The Control Computer

The control computer is a personal desktop or laptop computer that communicates directly with the microcomputer on the Brewer instrument via a RS-232 serial link. The control computer allows operation of the Brewer instrument either manually by entering commands from a menu or automatically by entering a sequence of commands that is scheduled as a function of solar zenith angle (SZA) or time of day. Nearly all of the data collected by Brewer instruments is collected during automatic operation. The manual mode is used mainly for setup, special tests, or debugging operations.

The control computer is programmed using GWBasic allowing users of the instrument to develop customized measurements or tests. Versions of the control program have been developed that use other computer languages, i.e., Matlab; however, these programs are not in general use. Preliminary results of measurements are calculated and summarized in real time allowing quick identification of instrumental problems.

Many operators automatically retrieve a daily file of raw data remotely (usually overnight) from field instruments using communication links such as telephone or the internet. Daily data files are typically 100 KB to 200 KB in size depending on observation schedule, location, and time of year, and are often archived into a central database on a day-to-day basis. Preliminary data results are reported in near real time for use in applications, such as UV Index forecast or public distribution of real time total ozone and UV Index values. In addition, programs can be uploaded remotely to the Brewer control computer allowing schedule changes or special tests to be carried out without on-site intervention.

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