PHELIX is controlled by use of the PCS. This serves when PHELIX is aligned as well as to control the sequence of a high energy laser shot. Due to safety reasons, it is forbidden to stay next to the laser while shooting, thus the laser must work completely remotely controlled. Important settings and diagnostic data are stored after each shot by the PCS.
The PCS bases on the Control System Framework (CS) developed at GSI and used by about 15 groups worldwide. Described in key words the system uses the object oriented approach, is scalable, distributed, event driven and free available (GNU Public License). Programming language is LabVIEW™.
With the PCS about 30 cameras, more than 50 motors, five power meter, about 30 end-switch controlled elements (these can be flipped into and out of the beam line), five gate and delay generators (see PTS), and many other things are controlled. Furthermore, charging and discharging of the capacitor banks (all together 7 power supplies, relays, ... ) used to flash the lambs of the pre-amplifier and main amplifier laser heads are controlled. Additionally, cooling water circuits and the pressure of several vacuum vessels are read out.
The PCS guarantees the safe operation of the laser. For this purpose several reading points are used to check the conditions. If a failure is detected the laser is automatically set to a safe state.