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Feasibility of setting up a CAMAC system

Posted: Wed Oct 14, 2020 11:47 am
by ChristofferBraestrup

Not necessarily out of need, more out of historic and technical interest, I'm considering purchasing a CAMAC crate and some modules to play around with, complimenting NIM equipment and automating some measurements setups, since stuff like 8ch. ADCs seem really inexpensive.

I have never worked with the system before, and would like to hear from someone who has.

Can a CAMAC crate be operated without GPIB/IEEE488 ?

How difficult is it to get a simple counting system/mca/mcs running?

Is there any unavoidable books I should look for?

Thanks in advance, I know this is a very open question.

Re: Feasibility of setting up a CAMAC system

Posted: Thu Oct 15, 2020 5:46 am
by Richard Hull
CAMAC is a natural, more modern successor to the NIM systems of the 60's and 70's. They are far more expensive per unit module and crate than NIM. NIM went surplus by the metric ton making a lot of modules to choose from on the surplus market. CAMAC is a good deal more rare with less of a selection. Unfortunately, CAMAC came in as the computer revolution was getting cranked up and far simpler solutions using a desk top or lap top hooked to a small box of specific finished function, stunted and blunted the growth of CAMAC. Now, entire one piece solutions built around fast micro controllers do not even need the computer save for a place to store the streaming data from the box via USB connection. The IEEE buss is pretty much dead and dying save for legacy gear still functional.

As regards NIM, CAMAC and the IEEE buss.....If it still works, fits your budget, and is a viable solution, make use of it.

Richard Hull

Re: Feasibility of setting up a CAMAC system

Posted: Thu Oct 15, 2020 10:41 am
by ChristofferBraestrup
Thanks for the explaination! From what I've seen, there are some standard CAMAC modules that pops up fairly often, like crate controllers (which I believe is the unit that ALWAYS needs to be in a crate for it to do anything), memory and ADC's. For reasonable prices as well. If I lived in Tennesee, where I believe NIM and CAMAC electronics are nesting, I would have no issues getting an inexpensive setup, but shipping a CAMAC crate to Europe is probably not going to be very economical, even if I got it almost for free.

I think I'll keep my eye out for a crate, maybe one of those portable mini-crates, or a lose backplane (could be powered from a NIM psu) before aquiring any CAMAC modules.

The other issue with CAMAC stuff is the relying on LEMO cables, which are also an order of magnitude less economical than BNC cables. Chinese connectors are available, however, or one could rerofit the CAMAC modules with SMA connectors.