Copyright © 1999 by H. Paul Shuch, Ph.D.
Executive Director, The SETI League, Inc.
PO Box 555, Little Ferry NJ 07643
email n6tx @ setileague.org
In addition to analyzing signals, some SETI League computers also control the station. Remember the computer-controlled radios discussed in the Microwave Receivers section of this block diagram? They can often be tuned by software, driven from the PC's serial, parallel or USB port. Antennas can similarly be computer-aimed, if they are equipped with software-driven azimuth and elevation rotors. Some SETI computers make lights ring and bells flash whenever they detect something interesting. And the most advanced of the computers used by SETI League members also dial into the internet when an interesting candidate signal is received, automatically alerting other participants that their assistance in signal verification is required.
Some SETI receivers are designed to operate solely under computer control. For several others, it is an option. A few receivers (notably the Icom model R-7000 series) require an accessory interface box to convert the receiver's control lines to RS-232 levels for connection to a computer's serial port. And some SETI signal analysis software (notably the SETIFox program from member and Software Committee co-chairman Dan Fox) are designed specifically to take advantage of this interface capability.
Control cabling is largely optional, because computer control of the complete SETI station is presently practiced only by our most advanced members, and even by them, it is still experimental. Except when using a computer-tuned receiver such as the WinRadio, all the necessary control functions can be performed manually, and usually are. But automation techniques will become more important in the years ahead, as more receivers, antennas, and networked signal verification protocols emerge which call for computer control.
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this page last updated 4 January 2003
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