EOL/CDS Aircraft Platform Software Product Guide

This page describes the software that has been developed for internal use and is available to outside users.

I maintain an Email list for announcing new versions of ncplot, ncpp, and xpms2d. If you would like to be added, send Email to Chris Webster.

NCAR-RAF/nimbus netCDF file conventions/format.
Examples for extracting Time from the netCDF file..

Program Descriptions

A sample netCDF file
aeros - Download
This is our next generation real-time and post-processing display tool being developed for HIAPER. It runs under both Windows XP and Linux.

ncplot - User's Manual - Download
This is our primary tool for viewing data. ncplot will work with both low-rate and high-rate data files. Plots Time-series, XY and XYZ, ASCII, spectral analysis, and more. Requires netCDF 3.0 or later.

ncpp - User's Manual - Download
Display program for PMS1D Histogram data. Building from source requires netCDF 3.0 or later, and libraf.

xpms2d - User's Manual - Download
Display program for PMS2D data. PMS2D data are NOT contained in the netCDF file but must be requested from RAF separately. Building from source requires libraf.

asc2cdf - User's Manual - Download
ASCII to netCDF (LRT only, also does NASA Ames DEF ASCII files). Has no GUI (i.e. Motif not required), includes man page.

nc2asc - User's Manual - Download
Java netCDF to ASCII converter. Lets you select which variables, and time periods. Can also output PMS histogram data.

ncReorder - Download
netCDF reorder. Speeds up read access of netCDF files by a factor of 20-40. Accomplishes this by converting the UNLIMITED record dimension to a fixed dimension.

cpidisplay - Download
Display program for CPI data.

The programs described below will require that you install the files include.tar.Z and libraf.tar.Z.

Contains RAF header files required by many of our programs. This is the only file that won't create its own directory. All the Makefile's look for these include files in the directory $LOCAL/include. So you may put them anywhere and 'setenv LOCAL' correctly (or modify the Makefiles). No compilation neccessary.

Contains various C and C++ routines used across many of our programs. Requires include.tar.Z to compile. This library should be installed in some directory where your compiler will find it. Our Makefiles do NOT have a -Ldir flag to locate this file.

The program called g2n converts GENPRO-II data sets to the RAF netCDF format. A man page is available. It has no GUI (i.e., Motif is not required). Building from the source requires netCDF 3.0 or later. Questions regarding g2n should be directed to Ron Ruth.

Averages data down to rates less than 1 sample per second (e.g. 10 second data). Reads one netCDF file (LRT only) and produces another.

Extract subset of a netCDF file and produce' another netCDF file.

Merge two NCAR/RAF datasets. Has no GUI.

Provides statistics (mean/std dev/min/max).

A skeleton program to perform your own processing.

LRT = Low RaTe. All data has been averaged to achieve 1 sample per second.
HRT = High RaTe. Variables at different rates, mostly at 25 samples per second. Rates achieved through FIR filtering.


Development platform(s)

Our primary development platform is Redhat Enterprise 5 on i386 architecture, using GNU's C/C++ compilers (g++ version 3.4.3).

ncplot, ncpp, and xpms2d have been ported to a number of Unix platforms, including MacOS. All of the programs will require editing the Makefile to suit your environment.


All the programs will require that you have installed the netCDF library from Unidata (available via anonymous ftp from ftp.unidata.ucar.edu).

We have developed a set of conventions for aircraft data; NCAR-RAF netCDF conventions.

Motif or Lesstif

For all the GUI-based programs, you will need Motif 1.2 (or greater) installed on your system. Motif is bundled with Solaris 2.4 and later in /usr/dt. Most commercial Unix boxes come with Motif. Metro Link sells Motif for Linux for $150; alternativly a group is working on a free version called Lesstif. ncplot suffers numerous cosmetic problems when used with Lesstif.

05/2009: OpenMotif is now available for free. It comes bundled with RHEL4 and RHEL5, but is not available with Fedora Core due to a license conflict. I have been able to locate some RPMS from the Stanford Music School available at pbone.net.


Making life easier (for those building from source)

The simpliest way to set things up, especially if you have to build the libraries, is to create a /home/local/raf (or something/raf). Then under this, create directories called include and lib, then untar the source here. e.g.
cd /home/local/
mkdir raf
setenv LOCAL /home/local/raf
setenv JLOCAL /home/local/raf
cd raf
mkdir lib include
uncompress ncplot.tar.Z
uncompress ncpp.tar.Z
uncompress xpms2d.tar.Z
uncompress libraf.tar.Z
tar xf libraf.tar
tar xf ncplot.tar
tar xf ncpp.tar
tar xf xpms2d.tar
At this point you will need to edit Makefiles, and make sure they are correct for your installation (Solaris or Linux) by commenting/uncommenting the correct section near the top.
cd libraf
make install
cd ../ncplot
cd ../ncpp/src
cd ../../xpms2d/src

Make sure Makefiles are edited appropriatly.


For system use:
  • install binaries into /home/local/bin or wherever you put these things.
  • For personal use (e.g. no root access):
  • install binaries into ~/bin, and add ~/bin to your $PATH.
  • The following environment variables are used by the programs:

      setenv DATA_DIR         /my/data/directory
    setenv LPDEST my_printer # May already be set.
    setenv HOME ~ # Should already be set.

    Known problems


    For further information contact:

    Chris Webster
    National Center for Atmospheric Research
    EOL/Computing, Data and Software Facility
    (303) 497-1044

    email Chris Webster

    RAF Home Page | EOL Home Page | NCAR Home Page

    Last update: Sun May 24 16:30:52 MDT 2009