Date: Fri, 10 Dec 2004 08:56:23 -0500
Author: "J. Terrence Klopcic"
Subject: Re: PHA (and/or MCA)
Paul et al.,
We are looking at updating our nuke spec equipment next year and bought both
the SpecTech UCS-20 and the Canberra Multiport for testing. Both are
proving to be what we hoped. The SpecTech in particular has proven to be
easy to use. It does supply everything in one package: Pre-amp power,
amplifier, MCA and MCS(!), and assorted other options. We use the UCS-20
with both NaI detectors and with Geiger counters. The software is pretty
complete and the USB connection worked immediately. The only drawback that
I've run into so far was in trying to intercept the USB commands using a USB
"sniffer" (part of an attempt to use the UCS-10 as an instructional example
for a scientific computing exercise). Apparently the software interface was
done in a non-standard way. This, however, is transparent to anyone who is
using the UCS-20 as it is designed to be used. The UCS-20 is our current
front-runner for replacement of the Accuspec equipment that we use in our
By the way, tech support at SpecTech was also very responsive and helpful.
I expect that we will use the Canberra Multiport in our Senior lab because,
NOT being a totally contained system, it requires the students to delve more
deeply into the parts and processes involved in producing the spectra that
we all know and love. It also offers some other capabilities - for example
outputs that are amenable for coincidence experiments although - tech
support-wise - you are much more on your own with Canberra. (Don't hold
your breath waiting for a reply from Canberra engineers.)
----- Original Message -----
From: "Paul Nord"
Cc: "Paul Nord"
Sent: Thursday, December 09, 2004 12:01 PM
Subject: Re: PHA (and/or MCA)
> Old thread here... What did you end up deciding?
> We've got approval to replace our cards. I'd like to go with the
> Canberra USB NIM modules (the MultiPort). The hangup is that their
> software is licensed through a dongle. That seems pretty primitive...
> and inconvenient.
> The SpecTech option looks to be a good buy when you factor in the cost
> of amplifiers and HV supplies. Though I've already got amplifiers and
> supplies. 2k channels may be enough for most of our needs. (Whoever
> designed the 2004 Pasco catalog knew nothing about spectroscopy. Look
> at the screenshot they put in! That's supposed to make we want to buy
> The catalog pages from Ortec look pretty outmoded. They don't have a
> standalone USB product except for the NaI base. They have only a
> thinwire ethernet interface. I need more versatility than just NaI
> inputs. I will call them.
> On Wednesday, February 4, 2004, at 09:53 AM, Richard Flarend wrote:
> > We use the SpecTech USB-MCA (USC20 is their name). At $3000 it is a
> > great buy (2K channels). When I looked a few years ago, I actually
> > decided to wait for this product to be released because it would be
> > portable from one computer to the next over the years (there was a
> > recent post to Tap-L concerning internal boards which required a type
> > of slot which is no longer commonly available). I would believe that
> > USB is going to be around for a long time. The external box type is
> > also easily movable from one lab to another and easily used with a
> > laptop without having to cart around a (dedicated) computer.
> > The software is also quickly progressing with the SpecTech. At first
> > we had lots of problems (we had one of the first), but those have been
> > solved and many new features are being added to the software. In fact
> > the company is very receptive of new software features from its users.
> > Richard Flarend
> > Penn State Altoona
> > Wolfgang Rueckner wrote:
> >> We've been phasing out our stand-alone multi-channel analyzers over
> >> the years and replacing them with boards in a computer. Some are
> >> strictly multi-channel scalers (MCS), others pulse-height analyzers
> >> (PHA), and some do both. Our present PHA board is a Trump-2K, made
> >> by EG&G. It's been working well but I have heard from other sources
> >> that (when it fails) EG&G charges $750 just to evaluate what's wrong
> >> with the board. Before we buy more, it might be a good idea to learn
> >> what else is out there worth considering. My question is: What PHA
> >> boards are you using in your labs, and are you happy with them (pros
> >> and cons). Thank you. Wolfgang
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