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Wednesday, May 13, 2009

commissioning a machine

For complex machinery such as a synchrotron light source, one of the major considerations is the commissioning process. This is the process where all of the diagnostics need to be turned on and calibrated and the machine is tested component by component. This is what the LHC is going through right now, and what its recent problems relate to.
I keep trying to avoid some realities about this field I am in. One is the size and complexity of the machines. In order to come to terms with this, I have to come to terms with the commissioning process. I suppose the basic idea is to do it step by step. First you commission the linac and get the electrons looking good there. Then you inject into the booster and see if you can ramp it up to high enough energy. Then you inject into the storage ring, turning on your BPM's and trying to get a good orbit.
Somehow this seems so engineering oriented, I want to run away from the whole thing. I guess the problem for me is the stress level involved. I worry that there aren't enough people, and it will just turn into a mess. It also sounds like the end of research for me. The process also seems backwards, in that I'm building something without really knowing how it works first.
For practice, looks like I may be able to be involved with/observe the PETRA III commissioning.

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