Web-based Remote Control and Monitoring of Experimental Apparatus: The System at BNL's NSLS by J.M. Skinner and R. Sweet

With the advent of increasing network speeds and technologies dealing with the internet and the World Wide Web, the potential exists for research at large user facilities to become a more distributed process in terms of manpower. We envision that in the future, it should be possible to send fewer people to research facilities, while others monitor and control experiments from remote locations. This concept might be extended to the point that only samples to be analyzed are sent to a facility, set up by an on-site technician, and the experiment would be largely controlled by a researcher at a distant site. For this to be feasible, software will need to be developed to provide the remote operator with most of the same control mechanisms and feedback that now exists only at the research station. With this in mind we present a web-based beamline control/monitoring program that demonstrates the potential for utilizing the web for remote operations.

Our Java applet can monitor and communicate with the data collection and beamline control software at NSLS beamline X12C. Commands typed at the command-line in the applet will be executed by the beamline software. The data images are updated as they are collected. A separate image viewer window can be popped up to allow rescaling and magnification of images. At beamlines using ADSC's MAR 300 software, our tool is configured to operate in monitoring mode only for security purposes. We plan to adapt our code to handle ADSC's CCD detector and the MAR 345 in the near future.

To see it in action, you can view an animation of the Java-based monitoring tool that was created while data was being collected on a MAR 300 at NSLS beamline X8C. Of course the update frequency of the actual software is much higher. The GIF animation was created with a limited number of snapshots to give viewers some idea of how the monitoring tool works.

A useful feature of this software is that it runs well over a 28.8kbs modem.

The point of NOBUGS is to collaborate and share with others that have similar software needs and interests. In that spirit, anyone interested in the above is welcomed to the source code. Please contact:

John Skinner (
for more information.