The mission abort/destruct system was another real-time project. Essentially, it is a range safety system which is used to command mission abort in situations which could result in loss of life or property. Specifically, in the Kwajalein Missile Range numerous missile tests take place. All incoming as well as outgoing test missles are monitored by the Range Safety Team. Should the missile stray from its predicted/designated course the Range Safety Officer can issue the necessary commands to detonate the missile. The equipment that is used for this purpose is controlled by the software that I've written.
The software is distributed accross two pairs of geographically distant computer systems. They are connected via RS-232C serial lines as well as ethernet (the pair). The four computers were MicroVAX IIs running VAXELN, a real-time version of VMS from Digital Equipment Corporation.
The four computers were connected to the main range safety VAX computers that provided path prediction and other information to the Range Safety Officer.
My task was to program the four MicroVAX systems to control the RF equipment (IRIG Tone Generators, Tone Decoders, High Power Amplifiers, Directional Antennas via the MicroVAX). Upon command from the Range Safety Officer the system had to send the pre-programmed tone sequences, verify that they have been sent successfully and possibly retry the attempt within 100 milliseconds.
Development of the system was accomplished in the VAX/VMS environment using the development tools for VAXELN (the target operating system). All code was written by me in C. Since performance was key I had to write custom device drivers for several of the Q-Bus cards that were used to interface to the external equipment.
Strict development quidelines were followed (and imposed by the customer). I have utilized the DEC development system components (CMS - Code Management System, MMS - Module Management System, LSE - Language Sensitive Editor, etc.) for this purpose. (Personal note: DEC documentation was superb, I could not have done the job without such high quality material, especially since I've not worked on a MicroVAX prior to this assignment.)
This project required close communication with the customer, although they were located half way around the world. This presented no problems and the system was successfully delivered.
Laszlo Kiss — deltaprime.com — (602) 418-9922