OpticsBenchUI Development Page




Statement



Opticsbenchui (www.opticsbenchui.com) promotes the use of Open source software in research laboratories and companies having interest in optics bench experiments.


Motivation



Optics bench experiments mainly require software in the two following situations:
  • manage individual control and/or data acquisition of each independent device. It is necessary for manually adjusting optics components on the bench (motor, camera, laser diode, shutter, analog to digital, digital to analog etc..). This may not be a problem from the software point of view since any commercial hardware device has its own control and/or data acquisition software shipped with it.
  • perform global control like automated scans or control loops involving cooperation between hardware devices on the bench. It requires data and control coordination between heterogeneous devices. Only an integrated software solution can satisfy this point.
  • There exist software commercial frameworks providing solutions for the second point. They may seem attractive because of their apparent simplicity, especially to project managers not expert in software who often start new projects with a simplified context in mind. However, experience tells that with time, increasing experiment complexity requires a growing level of expertise to handle such commercial frameworks. Additional complications arise due to a lack of software engineering vision impeding software components re-use and modifications. In the long term, the critical mass necessary to reach a sustainable level of expertise risks to be unattainable.


    Choosing Open Source Framework



    What is the alternative ? It is opportune to present Open Source as the right framework for optics laboratories and companies.
  • Open Source is free, fully accessible and modifiable which is to our opinion the best basis model to sustain increasing complexity in the long term.
  • Open Source original mission is to be as generic and compatible as possible with the largest range of hardware.
  • Open Source community has always grown bigger and stronger since the beginnings. It can be considered today mature enough to bring high-performance solutions to the most demanding experiments. Biggest and most complicated experiments like LHC at Cern are true incubators of Open Source software technologies. Big industrial hardware companies have understood that and provide Open Source drivers compatible with their hardware products on a regular basis.
  • Open Source is the ideal bridge between academic and business realities. Students and trainees already know a bit of academic programming languages. A student will feel immediately comfortable building his application using Open Source resources.

  • Laboratories and companies may keep in mind that the decision to be taken on the software framework will have important consequences in the long term. We are convinced that Open Source is the best solution. In this perspective, we offer our support for Open Source, like providing hardware and software technology watch studies, providing trainings methods and tools in all software aspects around Open Source (programming language, package management and environment). Our support is targeted towards the optics community within which we build our Open Source experience every day.




    OpticsBenchUI software



    OpticsBenchUI software is a demonstration software showing some possibilities to control optics bench experiments using exclusively Open Source resources. It allows control of three main category of devices:

  • DACs used to control voltage/currents
  • Motors to move mirrors and lens
  • Cameras to look at beam profiles

  • Once all devices are configured, a scan can be configured in the Acquisition section.

    Data are saved in a binary format fully accessible from C and Fortran code for data analysis.