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RESEARCH SUPPORT

Electronics Group
Engineering Group


E
lectronics Group


Demand for Electronics support remained strong during the year. Maintenance activities accounted for 13.8% of human resources,
administration and group support / renovations planning and disruption 35.8%, with the remaining 50.4% devoted to development activity.
The group’s accommodation was extensively renovated and expanded during 2003, using funds from the University’s Capital Management Plan,
Facilities and Services, RSES, and the Earth Physics and Earth Chemistry groups.

Notable developments undertaken included:

Assembly and bench testing of the prototype ‘INSB’ assembly to facilitate precision ‘Charge Mode’ data acquisition utilising Finnigan
electrometer amplifiers. (Mr D Corrigan, Mr N Schram).

Manufacture and testing of 3 ‘DSCC’ (embedded computer assemblies) and Solar
Cell regulators for deployment in Antarctica by the Geodynamics subgroup (Mr A. Welsh, Mr D. Cummins, Mr D. Cassar).

Design and fabrication of a precision data acquisition and high resolution (22-bit) magnet control and housekeeping system for the 61cm
Mass Spectrometer (Mr A. Latimore).

Installation and commissioning of refurbished safety interlocking and furnace control for the
‘Rig 3’ high pressure apparatus within the Petrophysics group. (Mr A. Forster).

Design, development and commissioning of a Programmable Sample Crusher Controller
for the VG5400 Mass Spectrometer (Mr D. Cassar, Mr D. Cummins, Mr A. Latimore).

Implementation and commissioning of updated control electronics for early SHRIMP II instruments (Mr A. Welsh).

Fabrication of 9 ‘Tesla Tamer’ precision magnetic field probes for ASI and the SHRIMP group (Mr J. Arnold).

Completion of construction and bench testing of two fibre-optically controlled High Voltage systems and test software for the renovated
61 and NG61 Mass Spectrometers (Mr N. Schram, Mr J. Arnold, Mr A. Latimore, Mr D. Cummins, Mr D. Cassar).

Design, manufacture and commissioning of a motorised Cryogenic Head Controller and a specialised microcomputer-firmware-based
GPIB interface for an existing electrometer, both on the VG5400 Mass Spectrometer (Mr D. Cassar, Mr D. Cummins).

Expansion and commissioning of industrial I/O capabilities on the VG5400 Mass Spectrometer (Mr J. Arnold).

Design and modelling of the feasibility of fitting 2 extra Ion Multipliers to the collector of the Neptune ICPMS (Mr D. Corrigan).

Completion and bench testing of an automated filament degasser controller to suit hardware under development for Triton Mass Spectrometer (Mr N. Schram).

Design of source pumping hardware and associated source adjustment and structural support for the existing 61cm Mass Spectrometer (Mr D. Corrigan).

Design, implementation and commissioning of a remote control facility for an industrial RF heater for the Potassium Argon sub group (Mr A. Forster).

Design and partial implementation of electronic and industrial hardware to facilitate automated operation of the Multi Anvil press for Earth Materials
(Mr A. Forster, Mr D. Cummins, Mr D. Cassar).

Staffing

The group comprises an Electronics Engineer and five Technical Officers supplemented by two Trainee Technical Officers, who commenced
duty in February 2003. D Corrigan continues to specialise in engineering design, working closely with both Engineering and Electronics staff.
His primary focus for 2003 was the upgrade of the existing 61cm Mass Spectrometer.

Outlook

2004 promises to be another interesting year, as we turn our attention to the proposed SHRIMP SI, commissioning of the updated 61cm
Mass Spectrometer, and several high-pressure-press automation projects. The group will assume responsibility for implementing the ‘In Service
Testing of Electrical Appliances’ component of the University’s Electrical Safety Policy, and this is expected to absorb significant resources
during the first quarter of 2004. There is anecdotal evidence that the ‘internal recharge’ system of cost recovery is affecting the flow of
spontaneous and low cost projects, however it does not appear to be affecting the flow of major projects. Group finances have been
restructured for 2004 to further encourage accountability and autonomy, whilst offering a financial strategic plan to ensure continuity
and update of resources. Group members and clients appreciate the renovated accommodation and this, together with an age-balanced
and enthusiastic staff profile and a culture of professionalism and client focus, positions the group well for the foreseeable future.


Engineering Group

2003 was a year of change for the engineering workshop. Work commenced on the mezzanine floor extension in May. As expected this
construction disrupted workflow until late in the year. Workshop staff took the opportunity to have a general clean up and re-arranged the
workshop, steel storage and welding bay resulting in cleaner, more efficient work areas.

Administration, Training, workshop maintenance and extra work relating to the mezzanine extension accounted for 39% of human resources,
external work 3%, with the remaining 58% committed to jobs for the school.

Prominent work in 2003 included:

Completion of quadrupole lenses for Stanford SHRIMP (Mr D. Hall, Mr V. Baek-Hansen, Mr A. Wilson).

Completion of prototype electrometers for NG61 mass spectrometer (Mr D. Hall, Mr V. Baek-Hansen, Mr A. Wilson,
Mr D. Thomson, Mr G. Woodward).

Continued work on the filament degasser for 61cm mass spectrometer (All staff)
Manufacture of high-pressure six kilobar hydrothermal bombs (Mr D. Thomson).

Manufacture of revised Faraday cups for SHRIMP multi-collector (Mr D. Thomson, Mr G. Woodward, Mr A. Wilson).

Refurbishment of high-pressure vessels (Mr G. Woodward).

Started on a new order of Tantalum crucible. (Mr B. Taylor, Mr A. Wilson, Mr. D Thomson, Mr C Were).

Manufacture of Tantalum heater elements (Mr R. Willison).

Overhaul of several core-drilling systems (All staff).

Additions and modifications to Helium line and Noble gas line including rock crusher (Mr G. Woodward, Mr B. Taylor,
Mr D. Thomson, Mr A. Wilson).

Manufacture of a revised mirror support for SHRIMP II (Mr G. Woodward).

Began work on new sample holders designed to extend the capabilities of the HelEx laser ablation ICPMS (Mr D. Thomson,
Mr G. Woodward, Mr A. Wilson, Mr C. Were, Mr V. Baek-Hansen).

Staffing

Mr A. Wilson was appointed to the position of workshop head following the retirement of Mr B. Waterford. Mr R. Willison
retired during the year. We were pleased to have Mr D. Hall on contract until August when Mr C. Were commenced his appointment
as a full-time technical officer.

The group is comprised of four full time technical officers, (Mr A. Wilson, Mr D. Thomson, Mr G. Woodward and Mr C. Were),
1 part time technical officer, (Mr V. Baek-Hansen) and second year apprentice Mr B. Taylor.

Outlook

2004 will be an eventful year for the Engineering workshop with several projects, including the 61cm mass spectrometer systems,
ICPMS sample holders and Optically Stimulated Luminescence systems requiring further work. The proposed SHRIMP SI and
other smaller proposals will offer some fascinating engineering opportunities. Training will be an important issue for us in 2004.
It is hoped that all staff will be fully trained on the operation of the CNC machines to improve flexibility and efficiency. The groups’
new financial arrangement will enable tooling and machinery upgrades to be better planned.

 

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