Site Sights

SMEI Launch, 6th January 2003, Vandenberg AFB

Solar Mass Ejection Imager

This is a US Air Force commissioned project contracted out to the University of Birmingham. SMEI is a short time scale evaluation mission to observe the sun, and my involvement was to design and implement both the onboard and the ground support software for the instrument.

The SMEI instrument was delivered on time and integrated to the spacecraft in late April 2001.

This mission was launched from Vandenberg Air Force Base, on January 6th, 2003, at 14:19am GMT. The satellite completed initial checkout on February 6th, 2003, and is currently running normal operations. A first light all-sky map was produced from the very early data.

More information is on my SMEI pages.

Smart-2 Logo!


This is a European Space Agency project to examine gravity waves. The University of Birmingham has a sub-contract with Carlo Gavazzi Space to produce the control software for two sub-systems of the satellite.

The caging and release mechanism hardware is being designed by Rutherford Appleton Labs, with the flight control software being my responsibility.

In a similar fashion, the charge manangement system hardware is being designed by Imperial College, London. The application and interface software is again my responsibility.

More information is on my SMART-2 pages.

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SECCHI is the 'Sun Earth Connection Coronal and Heliospheric Investigation' - a suite of instruments consisting of two white-light coronagraphs, an ultra-violet imager, and the heliospheric imager.

It is being led by the Naval Research Laboratory Solar Physics branch, and the ASRG here has involvment with two of the instruments.

My role was to write an interface module for the ground test software setup to connect the camera electronics to the telemetry and commanding system.

More information is on my SECCHI pages.

JET-X Artist Impression

Spectrum-X Gamma

This multi-instrument platform was designed to examine the x-ray spectrum. The University of Birmingham is involved with the JET-X Instrument, for which I was responsible for the onboard software control system.

Sadly, this instrument programme produced a qualified flight-model instrument, but because of funding issues at the Russian Space Agency, it is unlikely to ever be launched.

JET-X is currently in storage in a cleanroom facility in Leicester.

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Mentor Graphics from A Windows-Based PC

We use Mentor Graphics design tools in the hardware group for our electronics design work.

Mentor has the capability set we need, and output format options which our PCB manufacturers prefer. Actel also have a set of plugin modules for integrating FPGA design work which we use in-house.

To permit access to Mentor from the design team desktop PC's, it is necessary to add additional fonts to the Exceed software.

I have written a set of instructions for configuring Exceed to do this.

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Satellite Toolkit

This piece of software for tracking statellite orbits is provided freely in an educational form by Analytical Graphics Inc. to the school.

It is used in the department as a learning aid for our students, and I provide some assistance with installation. I have put together a step by step installation guide.

The spacecraft contractor used this software, with the enhanced output modules for orbital prediction during the launch campaign of the Coriolis mission carrying the SMEI instrument.

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System Monitoring and Accounting Tools

To aid monitoring and rapid diagnosis of problems, I have installed Big Brother on some of the machines in the department. This free utility provides near-realtime monitoring capabilities, and the output produced is piped straight into a web page.

Three levels of alert are provided for, and it is shell-script based, so very easily customised.

I also installed the Multi-Router-Traffic-Graphing package to monitor bandwidth usage of my personal machine. Currently it monitors a number of network traffic parameters, hardware information, and machine load. An index to the currently provided graphs is available.

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RedHat Mirror

I maintain a mirror of some of the RedHat Linux distributions for Intel x86 machines. I also have network installable images for RedHat 9. Please note that I do not recommend installation of RedHat due to the change in support policy.

Note: Some RedHat 9 packages are built without certain features, which I find helpful. I have rebuilt Mozilla and XFree86 to include some missing options after RedHat stated they would not be re-enabled.

To do a network install, create the bootdisk.img, and optionally drvnet.img floppy disks. When prompted, do an ftp install from

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Mandrake Linux Mirror

I maintain a mirror of some of the MandrakeSoft Linux distributions for Intel x86 machines. I also have network installable images for these releases.

Please note that Mandrake Linux is aimed at i586 machines or later, so this distribution is not suitable for very old machines.

To do a network install, create the network.img. When prompted, do an ftp install from

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White Box Enterprise Linux Mirror

I maintain a mirror of the White Box Linux distribution for Intel x86 machines. I also have network installable images for these releases.

To do a network install, create the network.img. When prompted, do an ftp install from


There is a little bit of information about me on this site, and anyone who cares to take a look at my resumé is more than welcome to take a peek.

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Last Updated: 10-Feb-2006