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Published July 22, 2014 | Published
Book Section - Chapter Open

BLASTbus electronics: general-purpose readout and control for balloon-borne experiments


We present the second generation BLASTbus electronics. The primary purposes of this system are detector readout, attitude control, and cryogenic housekeeping, for balloon-borne telescopes. Readout of neutron transmutation doped germanium (NTD-Ge) bolometers requires low noise and parallel acquisition of hundreds of analog signals. Controlling a telescope's attitude requires the capability to interface to a wide variety of sensors and motors, and to use them together in a fast, closed loop. To achieve these different goals, the BLASTbus system employs a flexible motherboard-daughterboard architecture. The programmable motherboard features a digital signal processor (DSP) and field-programmable gate array (FPGA), as well as slots for three daughterboards. The daughterboards provide the interface to the outside world, with versions for analog to digital conversion, and optoisolated digital input/output. With the versatility afforded by this design, the BLASTbus also finds uses in cryogenic, thermometry, and power systems. For accurate timing control to tie everything together, the system operates in a fully synchronous manner. BLASTbus electronics have been successfully deployed to the South Pole, and own on stratospheric balloons.

Additional Information

© 2014 Society of Photo-optical Instrumentation Engineers (SPIE). The BLASTbus electronics have benefited from the expertise and efforts of specialists at the University of Toronto's Physics Electronics Resource Center. The SPIDER collaboration gratefully acknowledges the support of NASA (award numbers NNX07AL64G, NNX12AE95G), the Lucille and David Packard Foundation, and the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation. The BLAST collaboration acknowledges the support of NASA through grant numbers NNX13AE50G S03 and NNX09AB98G, the Leverhulme Trust through the Research Project Grant F/00 407/BN. We further acknowledge the support of the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC), the Canadian Space Agency (CSA), the Canada Foundation for Innovation, the Ontario Innovation Trust, the Puerto Rico Space Grant Consortium, the Fondo Institucional para la Investigacion of the University of Puerto Rico, the Rhode Island Space Grant Consortium. F. Poidevin thanks the Spanish Ministry of Economy and Competitiveness (MINECO) under the Consolider-Ingenio project CSD2010-00064 (EPI: Exploring the Physics of Inflation). W. C. Jones acknowledges the support of the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation. A. S. Rahlin is partially supported through NASAs NESSF Program (12-ASTRO 12R-004). J. D. Soler acknowledges the support of the European Research Council under the European Union's Seventh Framework Programme FP7/2007-2013/ERC grant agreement number 267934. We thank the JPL Research and Technology Development Fund for advancing detector focal plane technology. Logistical support for this project in Antarctica is provided by the U.S. National Science Foundation through the U.S. Antarctic Program. We would also like to thank the Columbia Scientific Balloon Facility (CSBF) staff for their continued outstanding work.

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