How did the Febetron of ETHZ get a Second Life?
After thirty years of operation and several modifications, the control system for the Febetron 705 (generator for high-energy electromagnetic pulses) at the Laboratory for Anorganic Chemistry of the ETH Zurich had problems with spare parts availability and with reliability. So a new control system had to be built.
The newly developed control system is based on standard components such as a PLC (Programmed Logic Controller) and a PC-based data acquisition system. It replaces the old control system and also includes additional functions such as a control of all parameters and the automation of measurement processes. The old control system with all its modifications was reverse engineered and converted into a modern system concept.
For the laboratory, the execution of experiments has been simplified, the measurement parameters can be controlled more precisely and the spare parts situation is relaxed, since only modern components are used.
Expertise and Technologies
For this single piece, LabVIEW is used for programming of the control software on the PC, also to achieve easy modifications by the experimenters. Basic and safety functions are covered by a PLC (Programmable Logic Controller). The most important competence has proven to be that of system design, both for the reverse engineering of the old control system, which has been modified several times, as well as for the assembly and installation of the new control system.