16-19 October 2016
Copenhagen University
Europe/Copenhagen timezone

Social sourdough - Twitter as an experiment control user interface

19 Oct 2016, 09:30
Marble Hall (Copenhagen University)

Marble Hall

Copenhagen University

Thorvaldsensvej 40
Oral Contribution Keynote Wednesday


Michael Wedel (European Spallation Source ERIC)


Over the last years, powerful mobile computing devices with internet access such as smart phones and tablets have become ubiquitous. In parallel, new software and services have emerged that provide a multitude of possibilities to exchange one-to-one, one-to-many and many-to-one information. This combination of hardware and software forms an enormous infrastructure that is capable of transferring billions of messages every day - can it be used in the context of experiment control? One aspect is distribution of sensor data and status information from "slow equipment" with relatively low update rates to a group of stakeholders in regular intervals. A service that is well suited for this form one-to-many communication is [Twitter][1]. Users can send messages, so called "Tweets", about which all "followers" of the author are notified. The length of messages is severely limited, but images can be included in the form of a short URL. Twitter offers an [API][2] that can be used through a [Python package][3], so that messages can be created and sent out programatically. A home made sourdough fermenter serves as a model system to test this approach. The fermenter consists of a styrofoam box with two 7W heaters that can be switched on and off via USB-controllable 240 VAC plugs and a DS18B20 temperature sensor. The hardware is connected to a Raspberry Pi Model B, which is running [NICOS][4], a Python based open source experiment control system developed at MLZ. Modules to communicate with the hardware have been added to the system as well as a module that can publish sensor readings over Twitter in regular, user specifiable intervals. Whenever the fermenter is loaded with a batch of sourdough, the temperature and heater status is made available to followers of [@Gaehrold][5], an account which was created for this purpose. Twitter also has a private messaging feature, where users can communicate in one-to-one channels. Another module has been added to NICOS that listens to these messages, executes contained commands and replies with results. The module allows simple access control based on Twitter user names, so that commands are only accepted from a limited group of people. [1]: https://twitter.com/ [2]: https://dev.twitter.com/rest/public [3]: https://github.com/bear/python-twitter [4]: http://nicos-controls.org/ [5]: https://twitter.com/Gaehrold

Primary author

Michael Wedel (European Spallation Source ERIC)

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