In a quantum optical laboratory, as well as in any physics laboratory, electronics is an essential tool. In particular for time correlated measurements where high speed electronics is needed.
The main idea of the easy-phi project is to build a simple, cheap but intelligent open hardware platform consisting of a 19" frame (or smaller), which can house a big variety of electronic modules.
To be smart, the rack’s back-plane includes the open hardware embedded computer Cubieboard (we may produce a future version with the Beaglebone). It is used to configure the connected electronic modules as well as providing connectivity via Ethernet, Wifi or USB.
The user will therefore be able to adjust each module parameters through a simple web interface, but also via Matlab / Labview modules. A monitoring system checks the back-plane voltages, temperatures, and synchronization signals.
The web interface along with a Wifi connection allows all modules to be controlled from a tablet computer, so researchers can pilot their experience from anywhere.
The USB connection is used by the module to send its characteristics/resources to the back-plane computer while allowing the latter to configure it. Communications between the different electronics modules are made through their front panels. This allows better visibility of the overall wiring while minimizing the noise added to the signal if it was routed through the back-plane.
The standard includes hardware, software, mechanics and the format of the high speed signals that connect modules between each others. The high-speed interconnection signal standard allows for up to 1GHz signalling.
All modules can be used independently, in a stand-alone mode, however to use all the configurations possible , the modules are best used with the standardized racks that can connect 5 or 12 modules.