[ M_R_C_A_T ] Remote Operation of MRCAT Beamlines

Running the MRCAT beam lines remotely.

General considerations

While we are in maximum telework operations mode, mail-in and remote operations is a good way to perform your ex situ experiments. Make sure to contact your assigned Staff support scientist about details of your samples so that the proper detectors and reference standards can be installed at the beamline. If it is your start day it's also probably someone else's end day. Part of the time on site will be used to take down the old setup and start the new one. Please be patient!

Please prepare samples in your lab and send them to us mounted or ready to mount in our standard sample holders ahead of time as much as possible, this will allow the Staff support scientist more time at the beamline to help setup and align and get you started. If you are going to use both beamlines at the same time (CAT members only) we'll have both staff members on the email chains for discussion each giving you the go ahead for the respective beamline. During your startup time please consider calling the respective beamline if you think it will help communicate more quickly. The ID phone number is +1.630.252.1710 and the BM number is +1.630.252.6792. The nature of remote operations is that if a change needs to be made at the line (gases, detectors, etc.) it may take some time for your Staff support scientist to make the changes for you. Expect an experiment to take a bit more time than usual.

While it is not possible to have users come on site for approved experiments, it is unclear when normal operations will resume. As with this entire situation the circumstances and changes are fluid. We want to keep you up to date and start getting data as quickly as possible. Don't hesitate if you run into any trouble while running to contact your Staff support scientist, they have experience running remotely and would rather fix a simple mistake than having something go off the rails.

Recording experiment time

The APS has requested that we record start and stop time for all beamtime. This is a new recordkeeping device that will be place from now on as far as we can tell. It will be particularly important for proprietary beam time. As you start to run your experiments, please use the following URL to record the starting and stopping of your ESAF. This can be done more than once if you end up taking a break with no beam or switching back and forth between ESAFs. Note that this page can be reached outside of the APS firewall.

ESAF Beamtime Reporting Form

In addition, there is the usual Floor Coordinator request URL that you can use if you need an intervention that requires physical presence outside of what can be handled by the Staff support scientist. This page can only be reached from inside the APS firewall, i.e. from an X2Go session.

Floor Coordinator Request

Beamline remote control

If you are intending to measure your samples remotely, we are recommending a program called X2Go. This will allow you to create an X11 session in a window on your home computer that looks exactly like your desktop at the MRCAT beam line. Until you log out of this desktop, it will remain active even if you close the window. All you have to do is run the X2Go program again and reconnect to your session. The familiarity of the setup and the ease of use is why we recommend this. You will log in with the same credentials you always do. The only concern is the possibility of another user creating their own desktop at the same time, causing a conflict when trying to move motors and collect data. To help prevent that we are requiring every spokesperson for the experiment to contact the Staff support scientist prior to your time, and do not start anything until you have received a confirmation email or call that you can start using it. Likewise at the end of your time you will have to log out of your desktop and let the Staff know that you are finished with everything. We will terminate all X2Go sessions when starting a new user.

Ion chamber gases

For the moment we do not have remote control of the gas mixture in the ion chambers. We are working on a solution but there is no target date for implementation yet.

ID line

Most of the time, the ID line needs only nitrogen gas in the in-line ion chambers and argon in the fluorescence chamber. If you expect to need a different mixture, please discuss this with your Staff support scientist to minimize the amount of time they have to spend at the APS.

BM line

If you are running a number of different edges in the same run, please make a judicious choice of gases so that you are not asking your Staff support scientist to come in multiple times a day to change gases.

Camera access

ID line

The Insertion Device line has a camera system with 5 cameras, each of which has pan-zoom-tilt capabilities. For the moment this system is more easily accessed from the MRCAT network so the best way to use it from within your remote X2Go session. Please ask your Staff support scientist for the user name and password.

BM line

The Bending Magnet line has a camera system with 4 cameras, each of which has pan-zoom-tilt capabilities. For the moment this system is more easily accessed from the MRCAT network so the best way to use it is from within your remote X2Go session. Please ask your Staff support scientist for the username and password.

Reference foils

We have added filter wheels that can hold up to 7 reference foils. The wheels are placed between the It and Iref ion chambers and can be controlled as motor "fw1" in the beamline control software. "mabs fw1 0" wil move the wheel to reference position 1, the home position. At the moment, the command uses values starting from 0 to 6 for positions 1 to 7.

Last edited on 25 Jun 2021