2007-11-19 Finding an optimum

As mentioned before, we need an algorithm to find the correct setting in a cloud of points.

I've gotten an explanation on how Andrey (the software developer of the Russian team) does this and I've tried to describe it using our macro, which should be faster in flight.

What does their routine do? It takes the FFO voltage upper and lower limit as well as a FFO bias current and FFO control line (CL) current. The routine then starts. It's divided in two parts:

The main thing to remember for the initial setup is that if you set the FFO bias current and CL current, you don't know the resulting FFO voltage. You'll have to measure it back to know how you're doing. The main thing to remember for the fine-tuning is that we want to find an FFO bias and CL current that result in an FFO voltage that's right between Fiske steps since the sensor is less sensitive to temperature changes.

For the first part, it lowers Vmin by ten percent. The FFO bias current is then set and the FFO CL is swept, each time reading back the FFO bias voltage. If the bias voltage falls between Vmin and Vmax or maybe somewhat over them, the bias current has a good value. If however the voltage "jumps", i.e. a value is read back that is outside Vmax, the sweep is stopped and has failed. These jumps occur, because above a certain point in the I/V curve for that particular FFO, the current has a wildly different voltage as a result.

Upon failure, which is quite likely the first couple of sweeps, the FFO bias is set lower and a new sweep is started. When success occurs, the fine-tuning starts.

When fine-tuning starts, we know the FFO bias current to set, as well as the FFO CL lower and upper limit which results in the FFO voltage Vmin and Vmax. What is done now, is request, say, 8 points in this space and then see if the gap between these points is so big that we can safely say that it's a Fiske step. If so, the FFO bias current is lowered and another sweep is done.

Below is a screenshot (actually a photo) of Irtecon, Andrey's implementation:
irtecon fiske steps.jpg

Now on to our own problem; recreating the above with our macro.

The macro basically sets the FFO bias current and then sweeps over the FFO CL current. It'll read out the FFO voltage with each step of the sweep. Given Vmin and Vmax, it will bail out of the FFO voltage isn't between the limits. I thought I could just pass 0x0000 and 0xFFFF as the limits, so these won't be checked and just return all values. But alas, that won't work. During the macro its setup part, it'll try to make small steps to the Vmin, and it'll bail out as well if it's not reached. However when found, a sweep is made.

With the macros we could reproduce the same two phases that were explained above. We'll start with the user giving the example parameters.

For the initial setup, using the macro should be something as follows:

The macro can return nine result codes of which two are actually successful. The first few times, I got a 0 which means that the FFO CL setting is below FFO bias.

For the fine-tuning:

To debug, we need good visualization. This isn't good enough for this particular purpose, though. We can draw a plot and then redraw it, including the results of the macro. What we can't do, is clear out the macro results and begin again with the original plot. So that's on the to do list as well.