Skip Navigation | ANU Home | Search ANU | Directories
The Australian National University
Research School of Earth Sciences
Printer Friendly Version of this Document
Untitled Document


Electronics and Engineering Groups


Demand for Electronics support was strong during 2004, with resources allocated as shown:





Total hours worked



Staff did not take leave as forecast

Hours billed



Surplus because more hours worked




Higher administration % due to the nature of tasks undertaken (numerous small projects)

Human resources were utilized as follows:


Percentage of total hours





Administration & Group Support


The group should carry a budget surplus into 2005 due to a combination of higher hours worked and billed than forecast, and restrained capital expenditure. There may, however, be a significant shortfall ($18,000) in recharge earnings due to the incapacity of a major client to pay. Should this occur, the group might enter 2005 with a deficit.

The Electronics group enjoyed its first full year in the renovated facilities, which have proven to be effective and comfortable. Notable developments undertaken include:

  • Design, implementation and installation of an upgraded 3-channel furnace control system for the Attenuation Apparatus for Earth Materials (Mr A. Forster and Mr D. Cassar).
  • Substantial upgrade of the Multi-Anvil Apparatus, incorporating updated pressure and furnace control systems, together with automation software for Earth Materials (Mr D. Cassar, Mr A. Forster, Mr P. Lanc [Earth Chemistry]).
  • Commissioning of a precision data acquisition and high resolution (22-bit) magnet control and housekeeping system for the 61cm Mass Spectrometer used by Earth Environment, together with user software for instrument control, data acquisition and preliminary data reduction (Mr A. Latimore).
  • Design, installation and commissioning of updated high voltage control and diagnostics hardware on SHRIMP II, incorporating fibre-optic control (Mr A. Welsh).
  • Design, development, construction and commissioning of a source pumping and sample insertion system for the renovated 61 cm mass spectrometer for Earth Environment (Mr D. Corrigan, Mr A. Cooper [RSPhySE], Mr N. Schram).
  • Completion and testing of 9 “Tesla Tamer” precision magnetic field probes for ASI and the SHRIMP group, and fabrication of electron suppressors for the SHRIMP SI (Mr J. Arnold).
  • 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 used by Earth Chemistry (Mr D. Cassar, Mr D. Cummins).
  • The generation of preliminary specifications and estimates for the electronics associated with the proposed SHRIMP SI (Mr N. Schram).
  • Design, development, fabrication, firmware support and installation of versatile electrometer control cards and cabling to interface Keithley 642 and RSES-INSB electrometers to the automation facilities of the renovated 61cm mass spectrometer used by Earth Environment (Mr A. Welsh, Mr A. Latimore, Mr N. Schram, Mr D. Cummins, Mr D. Cassar, Mr J. Arnold).
  • Formal testing and documentation against benchmark comparators of the performance of the prototype RSES-Finnigan-INSB precision electrometer, optimized for ‘charge mode’ data acquisition on the 61 cm mass spectrometers used by Earth Environment (Mr N. Schram).
  • Design, construction and assembly of a filament degasser to support the renovated 61cm Mass Spectrometer (Mr D. Corrigan, Mr D. Cassar).
  • Design, construction, installation and commissioning of innovative ‘power-control’ and automation system to improve reliability and product quality of diamond composite materials produced by the 4 kilotonne press operated by Ringwood Abrasives (Mr A. Forster, Mr D. Cassar, Mr P. Lanc [Earth Chemistry]).


The group comprises an Electronics Engineer and five Technical Officers supplemented by two Trainee Technical Officers, both of whom have proven to be capable, independent and self-motivated technicians. Mr D. Corrigan continues to specialise in engineering design, working closely with both Engineering and Electronics staff. His primary focus for 2004 was the upgrade of the existing 61cm Mass Spectrometer.


2005 promises to be another interesting year, as we turn our attention to the SHRIMP SI, the commissioning of several degasser units and further mechanical design for the NG61 Mass Spectrometer. The strategic budget model arranged for 2004 proved accurate and useful for monitoring operational efficiency and expenditure and a similar model will be implemented for 2005. There is clear evidence that the ‘internal recharge’ system of cost recovery has affected the flow of spontaneous and low cost projects and it has challenged the abilities of our clients to raise funds to match their aspirations . Changes to the administrative and management processes used by the group, stemming from the RSES Administration restructure, will undoubtedly frustrate group efficiency during 2005, but the resulting changes should both improve operations from mid-year onwards and further facilitate the group’s drive towards independence, transparency and accountability. The SHRIMP SI will pose technical challenges to the group, which it is well positioned to address via its broad staff profile. The year will see increased responsibility passed to younger members, as several senior members move into or towards retirement. With an age-balanced and enthusiastic staff profile and a professional culture and client focus, the group is well positioned to meet school requirements within the foreseeable future.

Top of page

Engineering Group

In 2004 the Engineering Workshop was occupied with an abundance of short-term work, a few major projects and the usual amount of external work.

Administration, including Occupational Health and Safety, workshop maintenance and training accounted for 30% of human resources. External work comprised 5%, with the remaining 65% committed to jobs for RSES.

Prominent work in 2004 included:

  • A New coral coring rig for Prof M. McCulloch (Mr C. Were, Mr D. Thomson, Mr G. Woodward)
  • Preparation of tungsten carbide cubes and iron/iridium capsules for use in the multi-anvil press (Mr G. Woodward, Mr B. Taylor, Mr C. Were, Mr A. Wilson and Mr V. Baek-Hansen)
  • Refurbishment of high pressure vessels (Mr G. Woodward, Mr C. Were)
  • A lapping jig to obtain optical flatness on ceramic pistons used for seismic property measurements in the Rock Physics laboratories (Mr B. Taylor, Mr V. Baek-Hansen)
  • A Micro-Drill for precision sampling under an optical microscope for Prof G. Lister (Mr V. Baek-Hansen, Mr B. Taylor)
  • Secondary Column test bench for SHRIMP (Mr G Woodward)
  • New lid and faraday cup modifications to SHRIMP 2 Multi collector (Mr D. Thomson, Mr A. Wilson, Mr B. Taylor and Mr C. Were)


The group comprises four full time technical officers (Mr A. Wilson, Mr D. Thomson, Mr C. Were and Mr G. Woodward), one part time technical officer (Mr V. Baek-Hansen), and a third year apprentice (Mr B. Taylor).

An additional full time technical officer will join our team early in 2005.


The proposed SHRIMP SI will be a major commitment for the Engineering workshop in 2005 and beyond. Prior to the commencement of SHRIMP SI we hope to be involved with another multi collector, for the SHRIMP 2 at Curtin University.

As usual plenty of general school activity is expected.

Top of page