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Feeling Old On Shift September 26, 2006

Posted by gordonwatts in computers, physics.

Text from a recent shift summary at DZERO:

Lost beam at about 0915 due to a serial camac link error.  Felt old when most of the shift crew looked blankly at me when I said the word “CAMAC”.

Indeed. I played with CAMAC when I was an undergraduate and already the next generation technology, NIM, was showing up. I always used to think of CAMAC as the easy way to wire up logic gates. Need a few AND gates and an OR or perhaps a NAND to wire together a few signals (a trigger, for example)? Slap a few CAMAC modules together, string some lemo wires (or BNC), and there you are. Of course, these days one does the equivalent with a FPGA chip. But it was more fun with in the CAMAC days. 🙂 CAMAC and NIM are such universal standards you can still find them around Fermilab. I’ll try to remember to get some pictures when I return there next.



1. Mike Procario - September 26, 2006

I was an undergrad when I worked on my first particle physics experiment, E592 at Fermilab. When I returned from my summer stay at the lab, I was asked what physicists do on shift. I replied they eat donuts and play with the trigger logic. No expertise was needed to play with the trigger back then.

2. Philipp - September 26, 2006

Well, I have to admit, that I do like the NIM standard (being still a graduate student). Everything is clearly laid out (well most of the time…), so even if you’re new to an experiment you can understand whats going on…

3. gordonwatts - September 27, 2006

“You could understand what is going on!?” I remember being on AMY and looking at the L1 trigger and it was a hair-nest! There were only one or two people even allowed to touch it, it was so easy to mess up! 🙂

But it was so much more accessible than it is now. And you could make a change and see the difference right away. Sigh. The good old days. 🙂 (translate: We’re old!”)

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