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Electronics Group 2007 Annual Report


In 2007 the Electronics Group has vastly improved precision fabrication capabilities with the acquisition of a professional surface mount component reworking station  complemented by dual dynascope vision systems, acquired with funding received from Vice Chancellor’s development fund 06. The new facility will allow the group to utilise advances in current electronic technologies to ensure our designs are modern and relevant to RSES. The February 2007 storm inflicted serious damage to the electronics workshop facilities causing considerable disruption to output which is reflected in the years administrative overheads. Despite the disorder the group has successfully supported the schools academic pursuits. 
     Demand for Electronic engineering has remained high during the year with developments into innovative Electrometer technologies, digital magnetic field control, stimulated emissions control and vacuum management. The Electronics Group continued to support RSES this year with resources distributed between electronic engineering development / fabrication, technical  maintenance, and administrative tasks.





Electronic Engineering Development and Fabrication



December figures
not yet available.

Technical Maintenance



December figures
not yet available


  • Trainee development
  • Service to wider University
  • Electrical Safety testing
  • General admin
  • Feb 2007 storm recovery



Increase due to storm recovery.





Table 1 Electronic Group Human Resources 2007

Developments and fabrications

Throughout 2007, RSES Electronics Group has continued to engineer and plan  electronic instrumentation requirements for Earth Chemistry’s new SHRIMP SI project. Also the Group has developed major and minor electronic devices for all RSES departments. The notable developments undertaken included;

Earth Chemistry Development projects
DVS Distributed Vacuum management System (Design complete) Cassar.
The DVS is a microprocessor controlled intelligent emergency vacuum shut down system. It has the ability to autonomously instigate correct venting and valve closing procedures during power failure to save vacuum integrity. Electronic engineering of DVS progressed throughout 2007 with initial design completed in October. The project has begun fabrication phase and is scheduled to commence system testing by early 2008.

IFLEX Electrometer (Design complete) Schram, Corrigan
In 2006 development began on a new concept for electrometer design based on experience gathered from previous Electronics Group projects namely the INSB .  The IFLEX is an ultra low noise analogue electrometer incorporating switchable range selection, charge mode facilities and improved construction feasibility. Electronic engineering of the IFLEX continued throughout 2007 by Schram and the project was extensively bench tested. Precision mechanical engineering of vacuum components were designed and constructed by Corrigan for the project. In 2007 the IFLEX project has produced a fully functional prototype. The design has undergone testing on SHRIMP 2 and progress towards commercial design has begun with the new technology destined for the SHRIMP SI project.

Beam Modulator (Complete) Redman.
The Beam Modulator project incorporates additional electronics to the existing high voltage electrostatic lens steering. The improvement allows variable rastering of the Ion beam on SHRIMP RG. Electronic engineering design and prototype complete, integration onto SHRIMP RG to begin by Redman after trainee exchange period. 

FC4 Field Controller 4 (Complete) Latimore.
Development of the FC4 project continued throughout 2007 with major improvements in technology gained from expansion into faster and larger digital Field Programmable Gate Arrays. The technology will also be utilised in a range of future developments. The prototype was extensively bench tested and construction of commercial design to be complete by the end of 2007. The project is scheduled for system implementation on SHRIMP SI in 2008.
RHVC 3 Remote High Voltage Controller 3(Active development)Latimore, Schram
The RHVC 3 project comprises control, management, distribution, enclosing and packaging of all SHRIMP SI high voltage power supplies. The project is currently at early the planning stage with hardware purchased ready to implement into the system.

SICMC Collector Motor Controller(Active development) Schram.

SIADU Analogue Distribution Unit (Active development) Sasaki
The SIADU project involves processing all analogue signals available from the SHRIMP SI and displaying them in real time to the user via a virtual meter LCD screen. This development eliminates the need to employ analogue meters as user interface. The project filters and drives signals to National Instruments acquisition technology. Electronic design is complete and the first ADU is currently under construction.

Earth Chemistry fabrication projects
Low Field Tesla Tamer 3a (Complete) Cummins.
Normal Field Tesla Tamer 3a (Complete) Cummins
Medium Voltage Amplifiers (Complete) Redman, Sasaki
Beam Monitor (Complete) Cummins, Sasaki

Earth Materials
One Atmosphere Furnace upgrade. (Complete) Cassar

Earth Environment
IICU Integration and Interface Control Unit  (Active development) Cummins
The IICU project provides two main functions in the Photon Counting Imaging System; it provides independent fully programmable current sources to drive Light Emitting Diodes as an alternative optical stimulation, and interfaces to the existing Minisys to allow control of the Liquid Nitrogen CCD camera system and other peripherals. The project utilizes microprocessor technology to create an autonomous controller for the Photon Counting Imaging System. Electronic engineering of the project is currently in its final stage and hardware construction is scheduled for December 2007.
Graphitization Furnace Control and Pressure Acquisition System (Complete) Schram
This device designed and built by Schram, enables automation of the proposed 12 channel Graphitization Furnace utilized for Accelerator Mass Spectrometer sample preparation. The project provides electronic control of temperature and digital acquisition of pressure. Electronic Engineering of the project is complete and the system is currently installed on the Graphitization Furnace waiting finial system testing.  

Earth Physics
Heating Mat Controller - Power Linearization  (Active development) Cassar, Tempra
The Heating Mat Controller project was first built in 2006 by Forster (now retired) and has been implemented in several projects for Earth Physics. The need arose for an improvement in the accuracy and linearization of power control. A superior method was tested for the acquisition of true RMS current and voltage enabling, in theory, vast improvements in absolute power measurement. The project is currently proceeding though bench-testing before addition to existing controllers.


Early in 2007 the Electronics Group management changed hands, relieving managerially duties from Schram and appointing Latimore as new group leader. Due to planned retirements of key staff during 2006 the group was required to appoint personnel in May 2007. The group has undergone a significant human resources change by promoting Cassar and Cummins into the ranks as qualified Electronics Technical Officers and also appointing two new Trainee Technical Officers Redman and Sasaki. The group now consists of an eclectic mix of experience, youth and enthusiasm with one Engineer - Latimore, two Senior Technical Officers - Schram, Corrigan, two Technical Officers -Cassar, Cummins and two trainee Technical officers - Redman, Sasaki.
            In October 2007 Electronics Group joined the Research School of Physical Sciences and Engineering’s trainee exchange program that allowed Redman a position at the RSPhySE Electronics Unit for a three month period, concurrently Trainee Technical Officer Daniel Tempra joined the RSES Electronics Group and has made considerable contributions.


The 2008 labour forecast for Electronics Group reveals high electronic engineering development time due to the continuation of  SHRIMP SI projects. The group will move into fabrication and implementation of designs generated in 2007 with intention  to remain focused on completing the SHRIMP SI project. The Electronics Group will continue our maintenance and technical counsel workload in 2008 which has remained a steady employment of resources each year and predicted to continue into the future. Further work will be required in 2008 for the proposed disassembling and reconstruction of SHRIMP 2, the proposal will inevitably shift the SHRIMP SI completion back relatively. The Electronics Group’s commitment to developing younger staff will continue through 2008 with extra funds and labour budgeted to training. We will endeavour to maintain our high standard of electronic competency now and into the future.

1 Input Node Switching Box


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Engineering Group 2007 Annual Report

With the construction of SHRIMP SI in full swing the time in the Engineering Workshop was in high demand this year.
63% of total hours for the year were devoted to charged RSES internal work. The total work done for clients outside RSES accounted for 10% of our time and 29% of our time was uncharged.

Internally the main commitments were:

SHRIMP SI- Mostly Multicollector and Source internal components (Mr G. Woodward, Mr C. Were, Mr D. Thomson, Mr B. Taylor, Mr B. Butler, Mr N. Best, Mr A. Wilson)
Some 250 hours of overtime was also completed on the SHRIMP SI (Mr D. Thomson, Mr B. Butler, Mr N. Best, Mr L. Gair)
General SHRIMP Maintenance (Mr D. Thomson, Mr C. Were, Mr A. Wilson)
Steel adapter plates designed and manufactured to allow Polycrystalline cubes to be used in the multi-anvil press in place of Tungsten Carbide cubes. (Mr B. Buttler)
Continuation of LA-ICPMS for Prof M. McCulloch (Mr B. Butler, Mr A. Wilson)
Manufacture of various field work equipment including speliothem coring drills   (Mr C. Were)
Precision diamond grinding of samples and pistons for use in high pressure/ temperature experiments in the Rock Physics laboratories for Dr I. Jackson (Mr G. Woodward, Mr C. Were, Mr D. Thomson, Mr B. Butler, Mr A. Wilson)
Heater canisters and various vacuum fitting and lab equipment for Dr S. Fallon (Mr B. Butler, Mr C. Were, Mr A. Wilson, Mr B. Taylor)
Mulit-Anvil capsules from various materials including Ir/Fe, MgO and Graphite for Dr R. Rapp and Prof H. O’Niell (Mr C. Were, Mr B. Buttler)
Lab items and modifications for Dr J. Brocks (Mr C. Were, Mr B. Taylor, Mr D. Thomson, Mr G. Woodward)

One large external project was taken on this year:

SHRIMP 2 Low Mass Head Assembly for “Australian Scientific Instruments”. (Mr G. Woodward, Mr C. Were, Mr D. Thomson, Mr B. Buttler, Mr N. Best, Mr A. Wilson)
Our time was also required by various faculties and research areas across campus for a multitude of smaller tasks.

Uncharged time was split as follows:

16%. Staff Training, both technical and general, including study leave.
38%. Workshop administration- Purchasing, workshop management, OHS Policy development and implementation, school committee work, and time logging.   
14%. Workshop Infrastructure. This includes the time taken for improvements and modifications to tooling, machines, workshop layout, workshop storage and assistance with workshop building maintenance.  The timber parquetry in the workshop is currently being repaired therefore extra time has been taken up moving machines and benches.
6%. Machine maintenance.
5%. Other- Sydney engineering exhibition, unloading deliveries.
16% of uncharged time was spent recovering from flood damage resulting from the February storm.
5% of uncharged work was spent on miscellaneous uncharged work both internal and from other areas of the ANU.


Current Workshop Staffing is as follows:
Mr A. Wilson, Mr D. Thomson, Mr G. Woodward, Mr C. Were, Mr B. Butler
Mr Brendan Taylor, who left early in the year, is yet to be replaced.
In August of this year Mr Nick Best was chosen for a six month secondment to RSES to assist with the SHRIMP SI. Nick has vast experience at the Royal Australian Mint and the John Curtain School of Medical Research; he has helped the SHRIMP SI project appreciably since his commencement with us.
Mr Lachlan Gair, also from JCSMR, joined our team for a short stint to assist with SHRIMP SI on overtime.

Other Developments   

Funding was granted from the Vice Chancellors infrastructure fund to the RSES Engineering Workshop this year for the purchase of a new CNC Lathe. A machine has been purchased and is due to arrive in early 2008. This machine will be unique to the ANU in that it incorporates both turning and milling.

An example of our work 

Above: Iridium/Iron alloy capsules-
Produced in the RSES Engineering workshop by Mr Brent Butler and Mr Carl Were
using Electro Discharge technology. The capsules are used in high pressure experimentation by Dr Robert Rapp.


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