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Contract Development Examples

CERN Trajectory Measurement System

Data Channel PCB

This project was carried out with Alpha Data Ltd and involved the design, construction, commissioning, support and maintenance of a new trajectory measurement system for the CERN Proton Synchrotron. The FPGA based system consists of 120 analogue signal acquisition channels, followed by FPGA based digital signal processing to derive the positions of the particle bunches undergoing acceleration in the CERN synchrotron.

The system continuously samples 120 Analogue channels at 125MHz, 14 bits and processes this data in real-time to determine information on the position of particle bunches as they orbit at around 437kHz. The system captures and processes 15 billion samples per second. Multiple Xilinx Vertex 4 FPGA's are employed in a modular system to capture and process the data. The system is controlled over a Gigabit Ethernet network from which portions of the resulting data can be accessed.

More information is at: http://portal.beam.ltd.uk/support/cern/

Blacknest Data System

The Blacknest data system is a data storage and manipulation system for Terabytes of Seismic data. The development work involved the system design and development of the system API's and back-end storage processes for the system as well as a number of GUI applications for user interaction with the system

Lifestream Video Conferencing System

BPSB-Switch Developed for a specific application of remote data and Video viewing, this project involved the development of a special purpose packet switched backplane system based on Gigabit Ethernet.
Here we designed the backplane system, a 5 slot backplane, a Gigabit switch card and ancillary cards for the mounting of a custom video compression card and redundant power supplies.


The Tape Digitiser was designed to digitise seismic analogue data as stored on 24 track reel to reel magnetic tape. The Linux based system uses National Instruments DAQ cards with the open source COMEDI DAQ interface to capture and process in real time the analogue data from the 24 analogue tape tracks. FM decoding of the tracks is done in real-time using FIR and IIR filters together with a Hilbert transform based FM Demodulator. The resulting digitised seismic data is stored on disk and can be written to DVD. The whole system is controlled with an easy to use GUI interface. As well as the software design and development we designed and produced the analogue, front-end, tape head amplifiers and anti-aliasing filters for the system.


The WrpServer system was designed to record and allow the playback of Wideband Radio IF signal channels obtained from a set of DdcServers. The WrpServer employs a set of Giga-bit Ethernet ports and an array of SCSI disks in a RAID configuration in order to record the Wideband IF signal channels in real-time. The overall maximum data rate processed by the system is about 48 MBytes per second when recording 8 Wideband IF channels.


The DdcServer is a part of a software radio system developed for Procitec that processes, in real-time, a digital broadband radio IF input signal with a bandwidth of between 200KHz and 2 MHz coming from a RF receiver via a Fibre FPDP interface. The input signal is transformed into narrow band channels (20 kHz) by digital down converting (DDC) using FPGA technology. Each channel can be used and programmed independently with the possibility of overlapping channels. The result consists of 150 narrow band channels which can accessed by remote systems though a Gigabit Ethernet interface. The overall data rate processed by the system is about 24MBytes per second. The system was implemented using the Linux OS as a network managed 19inch rack unit. 

CacheServer System

The CacheServer is a Video cache server for use in TV broadcasting environments. Quantel produce a broadcast quality Video processing system called Quentin. This system consists of a number of Video Servers with video and audio clips distributed across them. The servers have the video both at broadcast resolution, 25 M bit, and at 1.5 M bit MPEG. In use, for example, in a busy newsroom, a large number of journalists have the ability to view the video data using the Quantel Qview application from Microsoft Windows based Edit workstations: the machines upon which they type their copy, read email and so on.
The CacheServer was designed and developed by BEAM to act as a cache for the Video servers video information. It operates as a classic read-only cache of Video Data Thunks (The basic data chunk), accepting requests for Thunks from the multiple journalist's machines, forwarding these requests to the Video servers if it cannot satisfy them itself, and storing them (in RAM and on disk) for future use in a strictly "most recently used" manner. The system was implemented using the Linux OS as a network managed 19inch rack unit.

AstroFFT System

The AstroFFT Digital Spectrometer System was designed to pick out coherent signals from large levels of noise. One example of use isAstroFFT System to survey the Galaxy searching for maser emission from water both in star-forming regions and in the circumstellar envelopes of late-type stars.
The system processes, in real time,  multiple wide bandwidth (23MHz) analogue signals from a radio telescope. The system employs the Fast Fourier Transform (FFT) to calculate the spectrum of the signals and integrates the power of this spectrum over time.
The AstroFFT system consists of a network accessible host containing multiple FFT processing engines. Each processing engine has two, fast, analogue to digital converters connected directly to one of the latest generation of Field Programmable Gate Arrays (FPGA's). The FFT, power and integration calculations are performed by this FPGA. This novel architecture provides the high level of performance required with the flexibility to modify or use different processing algorithms. This was implemented as a Linux based 19inch rack system with GUI for system management.

RMON System

Developed for a TV equipment company, RMON is a remote monitoring and control system for broadcast video processing and editing systems. Based upon Linux technology and deployed on PC platforms it uses TCP/IP and PPP protocols across point to point modem links, Internet and local Ethernet networks. The system employs an easy to use GUI allowing technicians to access remote logs, control the remote systems and upload new software.

Clipnet System

This system was developed for Quantel. It is a Video clip network access system operating over Gigabit networks. It provides for the fast transfer of Video clips from one system to another as well as providing directory information. The system was written in 'C++' and ported to Linux, WindowsNT and Silicon Graphics IRIX systems.

Device Drivers for Xilinx FPGA gate array boards

Developed for state of the art reconfigurable computing the device driver links the Linux Kernel to the flexibility of a Field programmable Gate array.

Porting Projects

We have extensive experience in cross platform porting.
  • GNU Fortran to Embedded Alpha Processor System
  • GNAT ADA to Embedded Alpha Processor System
  • GNU 'C' and 'C++' to Embedded Alpha Processor System
  • GNU debugger to Embedded Alpha Processor System.
  • SHARC DSP host development environment to Sun Solaris x86 and Linux platforms
  • Port of telephone interface DSP driver to Unix
  • Device driver development for Linux
  • Port of RCS with user specific modifications to Unix


Research, Design and Development of Braille/Speech screen reading system for Blind users of Unix X-Window systems A longer time frame than most of our projects. Whilst a normal contact might run 6 months this collaborative project started in 1997 and is still progressing.

Development of Plasma Etching process control software

Developed in C++ under the Microsoft Windows operating system this GUI based application encapsulated process knowledge for the control of a plasma processing installation.

Hardware and Software for professional joystick

An analogue force joystick to mouse system mouse protocol converter. Developed for use in research modelling at British Aerospace. Embedded single chip microprocessor technology.

HBOX design and development

An interface box between a telephone line, PC sound card, telephone headset and external sound source. Used in call centre applications.