Update .... stsetch2

John Shott shott at stanford.edu
Fri Feb 5 10:16:01 PST 2010

stsetch2 community:

I know that many of you are extremely anxious to know when stsetch2 will 
be back and operational and that many of you are frustrated that it has 
taken so long to repair. To be honest, it is frustrating to us as well 
and nobody is more disappointed than we that it has taken this length of 
time.  It is my belief and expectation that we finally assembled the 
hardware support, on-site field service, and off-site software support 
from STS to resolve this issue by the end of the day Monday (Feb 8).  I 
have every expectation stsetch2 should be operational at that time.

So what is going on and why has it taken so long?  One of the 
significant subsystems of this tool is a set of PID controllers that 
monitor and control the collection of heaters that keep the chamber area 
hot.  That subsystem is manufactured by West Instruments and is called a 
MLC 9000 (for multi-loop controller).  While raw heater power is 
available, the control system has failed.  That system actually consists 
of a DeviceNet control module, two interface modules, and two 4-loop PID 

The original diagnosis was that one of the 4-loop controllers had 
failed.  Elmer ordered a replacement from STS some time ago.  When it 
arrived, however, we found that we had been sent a module for a MLC 
9000+ series controller.  Apparently, our tool is one of the few tools 
that STS ever manufactured with the MLC 9000 series controllers before 
they upgraded to the MLC 9000+ series.  Unfortunately, despite their 
very similar names, MLC 9000+ controllers, components,  and software are 
incompatible with MLC 9000 elements.  So, STS had to find and send us a 
series MLC 9000 series 4-loop controller.  We have been awaiting that 
shipment ... and field service on site ... for much of this week.

In the meantime, we have been working with STS support in the UK to try 
to further pin-point the exact failure in this subsystem and have been 
working with a STS engineer named Steve Blackwell in the UK that 
literally has a full set of our generation MLC components on his desktop 
.... it turns out that these are the only MLC 9000 series components 
that STS has.  Steve now believes that it is more likely that the main 
MLC control module, rather than the 4-loop controller, has failed.

In any event, Steve has loaded the proper program into these components 
and FedExed them all to the STS facility in San Carlos.  On Monday 
morning, STS field service will be arriving first thing in the morning 
with these components to install them.  At the same time, Steve 
Blackwell and the lead software engineer from STS will both be on the 
phone and accessing our system remotely to make sure that everything is 
fully operational.  They are confident that this collection of resources 
will resolve our heater issues by the end of the day Monday.

I know that this has been terribly inconvenient and frustrating to all 
of you.  We certainly understand the critical importance of this tool to 
all of your research needs.  We will let you know the exact status of 
the tool on Monday afternoon.

If any of you would like to discuss this in more detail, I would be 
happy to do so .... either individually or in small groups.

Thank you for your patience,


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