In 2015 FCDT student Jack Lovell carried out his 2nd year collaboratory project with D-TACQ solutions in East Kilbride. D-TACQ Solutions Ltd is a premier supplier of turnkey data acquisition products and services. It specialises in high quality simultaneous digitisers, featuring high channel count, deep capture memory and open standard interfaces.
The project was a direct result of Jack’s PhD work with Culham, developing a new bolometer utilising Field Programmable Gate Array (FPGA) technology for the upgrade to the UK’s fusion device MAST (MAST-U). The system was produced in collaboration with D-TACQ (who supplied the hardware) and is currently being tested on JET.
The collaboratory project involved Jack working with D-TACQ on and off site to develop a framework to allow customers to insert their own custom signal processing module into the FPGA firmware. Additionally, a digital lock-in amplifier, which is important for extracting data in noisy environments, was developed as a proof-of-concept module using the new framework. The lock-in amplifier module is being used by customers in the UK and Germany, and the framework has allowed Jack’s bolometer system to be used on NSTX-U in the US and TCV in Switzerland.
Jack said of the experience, “In terms of FPGA technology, I was self-taught. I really appreciated the opportunity work alongside and learn from experienced practitioners about best practice. It is also really rewarding that this technology is now being used on fusion devices globally”.