Well, we've made good progress getting some systems running again. The Launch Control Center is now operable, and I was able to get Management to dump some of the old, antiquated software we were using, like PCAnywhere, in favor of a new program I use here at home called TightVNC. We use it for remotely connecting to, and controlling, a bunch of servers that provide all the display screens in "Mission Control".
Quite frankly, PCAnywhere is a PIG for resources, and extremely slooooow. It would take about 40 seconds from when you hit the "connect" button until the remote desktop appeared. With TightVNC it happens so fast you barely have time to count "One....Two..." and BAM, you're connected and displaying the remote desktop.
On top of that, PCAnywhere is $200 per pair of PC's you want to use it with, and TightVNC is free, as it's licensed under the GPL, like Linux. It's faster, can be more secure, and very simple to set up and use.
People's jaws dropped when I did the demo, as they were used to starting PCAnywhere, and then going for a cup of coffee.
Considering we use this type of software to control several dozen computers, I think I just earned my salary for the month.
We still have to figure out the clock system, as it's been changed several times without proper documentation, and nobody knows who did what. It's a robust system using several GPS units that spit out a time code to a "server" box (basically a NMEA-0183-to-RS-485 converter), and it's one of those things that "just runs", but if it ever broke, we'd be lacking a paddle to get back down sh1t creek without proper documentation!
Today we started on one of my 'specialties', the Weather Radar System. When we first powered it up and tried to command the antenna, things went nuts, and the PC we use to control it shut everything down to prevent damage. If you've ever seen a fully-steerable 3 Meter dish go bonkers, you know it's not pretty. We found corroded slip rings, and loose connections to the servos, synchros, and tachs. When we first powered it up, it took about 15 minutes to run "fsck", as the last person to shut it down just pulled the plug, NOT something you do to a UNIX Operating System unless it can't be avoided.
Tomorrow I'll look through the logs to see when the last time was that it was powered up and exercised, and that will probably explain why the loose connections weren't noted in the written log ("Antenna won't sync" or something similar), and the lack of operation would also explain why the slip rings got all crummy from just sitting.
After that we'll check the installed TWTA, and swap in the spare for testing.
Compared to all the PC bashing I've done lately, doing some "Real RF" work will be fun!
In meme form.... And many, many more....
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