Poster Open Access

Beyond a black box: “Hacking” a Nikon Metrology X-Ray CT Machine

Gajjar, Parmesh ; Mcdonald, Sam; Jørgensen, Jakob S. ; Behnsen, Julia ; Johnson, Chris ; Gray, Nico ; Lionheart, William; Turner, Martin; Withers, Philip J

X-Ray CT machines have been powerful tools for complete 3D imaging and analysis of medical specimens and industrial artefacts, ranging from the scanning of steam location and aeroplane jet engines to parasitic bacteria. Technological advances have meant that the cost of these machines is now affordable to many institutions. But, despite the wide scope and increased availability, most machines are restricted to being used as “black-boxes”, with the user limited to only those routines provided by the
manufacturers.

One unique feature of the 320/225 kV Nikon XTEK bay is its ability to be “hacked”, namely programmed in a custom manner by the user. The Nikon Inspect-X software comes with a graphical user interface that
allows the user to perform 2D and 3D scans, inspections, along with many options such regions of interest, shading corrections, automatic reconstruction and batch processing. The Inspect-X software also
contains a module enabling the entire system to be controlled through Visual Basic for Applications (VBA). The VBA editor is housed within the Inspect-X software, and is the same VBA editor found in
Microsoft Word, meaning that generic code can be developed away from the CT machine. Each aspect of the X-Ray source, manipulator and image processing pipeline can be accessed using individual functions,
allowing the user to build up a series of simple macros for performing certain tasks, e.g. switch x-rays on
and off, capture and save an image or rotate the manipulator by a set angle. These simple macros can
then be combined together in complex applications. The VBA programming capability of the 320/225 kV
Nikon XTEK bay demonstrates the nearly unlimited potential of lab-based X-Ray CT systems to resolve a
whole range of new complex scientific and industrial problems.

Poster delivered at TOSCA, Bath Sept 2016
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