Hardware Development Systems
CLASSE highly recommends dedicating individual systems to the development and control of critical lab hardware. In other words, think of the computer that's used to develop and control the hardware as part of the hardware itself. We then offer many options for remotely working with the software on this dedicated computer.
This approach has been very successful throughout the lab with the following benefits:
- Improved availability. The computer dedicated to developing and controlling any piece of hardware is always available. There won't be a time where the computer is offsite or occupied by some other critical function. It's always available remotely to the users who need access to it.
- Improved stability. With this approach, you avoid conflicts with other drivers and packages that could break and create downtime for this critical piece of software. For example, Inventor and RSLogix won't work if they're installed on the same computer, and it took some time to understand and remedy the problem when it was first discovered.
- Improved flexibility. This approach makes it much easier to train others and pass on responsibility for given pieces of hardware. There's no need to setup a new system or install software to bring someone new on board.
The Computer Group would like to help design and deploy appropriate methods for managing hardware for all users at the Lab who need to do so. We would be excited to meet at any point to find out how we can support your work while preventing issues in the future.
These computers are usually set up to test, develop, or integrate various devices into Lab systems. Often this requires frequently adding or removing connections to external devices. The initial setup may require installing drivers, adding communication software or programming Labview, MATLAB
, or other interfaces. These setups are almost always custom configurations, but do fall into one of several categories. For supportability reasons, the Computer Group would like to identify the lowest rated category your need requires. This will save you, the lab and the computer group time and effort.
Here are some general points to keep in mind when preparing your service request for a new Hardware Development System:
- Know what OS you're going to need. This should be informed by the following:
- What software is needed and what platform is it available on?
- What OS is going to run this hardware in production? Try and develop on the same OS.
- Remember that to move a setup into production, it should be able to run under any standard user account. The lab has been burned by development that stopped with a device functioning under one specific local account, which then failed when that computer was upgraded. Please ask in your service request if you need test user accounts, and if possible, test under one or more of the user accounts that will use this device in production.
- Please make sure to request all software the hardware depends on. If your hardware uses Labview, make sure to submit a request for Labview to be installed.
- Plan ahead. Each category has an expected ETA, but that is from the time your computer request reaches the front of the queue. Remember that the Computer Group often has multiple requests for new computers each week. A tentative time frame can be provided in our response to your service request.
Remember that there are standard categories
for any computer request. These are additions to that category level and should give some ideas as to complexity and time to set up.
These are computers set up to communicate with some hardware, but otherwise are standard computers.
The Leak Checking netbooks are an example.
- They use a standard OS install.
- There is a standard user account for the process.
- Any hardware is installed once by the computer group and "just works".
This setup does not add any time to the standard categories.
For each add 1:
- These are computers that need one additional complex software program installed, like Labview
- Need to be able to add standard hardware with traditional .inf or driver CDs.
- Need to be able to install software.
- Require one custom internal hardware install, like a Firewire card or Labview Card.
This is a standard Elevated Privileges setup. You will need to meet with the IT Director sign the Elevated Privileges form.
These systems are ones that:
- Require multiple Category +1's, such as multiple complex software installs (Such as Labview and Inventor), or require a complex software install and Custom internal hardware install.
- Require installing extra unusual management software that cannot reasonably be installed by the computer group.
- Require development or data capture software to run with elevated privileges.
These setups will violate University Policy 5.10, and require an exception. To get an exception, we'll need to have a meeting to discuss the setup, explore alternative ways of accomplishing the task, and write up a justification for the Security Liaison documenting why we have the exception, and our alternate security methods. You will need to meet with the IT Director sign the Elevated Privileges form.
You should note that there are likely to be additional software and labor costs for setting up and maintaining these computers, equivalent to about $100 in licensing and 2 hours in labor - this is strictly overhead on setup. Additionally, there will be on-going costs for maintenance.
Remember that the end setup for production SHOULD NOT be a Category +2.
These systems are ones that:
- Require multiple Category +2's
- Require custom hardware orders like special one-off computers
- Require running software or hardware with Elevated Privileges. Note this is different from installing hardware or software, this is the run-time program needing elevated privileges.
These setups will violate University Policy 5.10, and require an exception. To get an exception, we'll need to have a meeting to discuss the setup, explore alternative ways of accomplishing the task, and write up a justification for the Security Liaison documenting why we have the exception, and our alternate security methods.
You should note that there are likely to be significant additional software and labor costs for setting up and maintaining these computers, equivalent to about $100 in licensing and 8 hours in labor - this is strictly overhead on setup. Additionally, there will be on-going costs for maintenance. For these reasons, these sort of setups are strongly discouraged if there is any other method to achieve the required goals.
You will need to meet with the IT Director sign the Elevated Privileges form.
Remember that the end setup for production SHOULD NOT be a Category +3.
This category is special. Generally the only way to have such a computer would be to have multiple Category +3's, though long term plans for new systematic computing changes could fall under this. This is more to expect that the time aspect for setup may be long, and it likely will require more than one meeting to hash out what should be done.