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Electronics Group 2008 Annual Report


2008 has proven to be a productive year for the RSES Electronics Group. During this period we have implemented several long term projects, maintained operation of RSES electronic instrumentation and successfully provided in house training for staff members.  The demand for electronics engineering has been substantial for the year allowing the Electronics Group to distribute resources into development projects utilising equipment and staff effectively during 2008. This year the Electronics Group has successfully relocated SHRIMP 2’s instrumentation and also implemented several major electronic improvements during the procedure. The Electronics Group has continued developing electronic instrumentation for the SHRIMP SI project completing major system components ready for installation in 2009. The Electronics Group has made a commitment to staff development with one third of members attending tertiary courses in electronics engineering. The Group includes two trainee technical officers giving members the opportunity to participate in peer development.   

Electronic Engineering Developments and Fabrications

During the first half of 2008 Group focus was mainly on developing equipment intended for the SHRIMP SI project, Table 1 displays resource allocations of the group for the year where Earth chemistry receives the majority of development time. The maintenance load this period has been reduced from previous year’s accounts, however administrative purchasing overheads have burdened the groups productivity.

RSES Electronics Group Resource Distribution 2008

Electronic & Mechanical Engineering


Earth Chemistry


Earth Physics


Earth Environment


Earth Materials & Processes






Earth Chemistry


Earth Physics


Earth Environment


Earth Materials & Processes


Mechanical Workshop 




Electronics Group


Training & Development



The SHRIMP 2 mass spectrometer was originally built and located in Jaeger 3, the machine was scheduled to be relocated to Jaeger 5 following the completion of the new Earth Chemistry SHRIMP Laboratory. The Electronics Group was directly involved in the coordination, removal and reconstruction of SHRIMP 2’s electronic instrumentation. This period of downtime provided an opportunity to implement new electronics systems onto SHRIMP 2, including new analogue signal acquisition system, digital beam monitors, distributed vacuum management system and new power distribution. Technologies developed for these projects will also be utilised by the SHRIMP SI mass spectrometer in 2009. 

The main electronic engineering projects for 2008 are listed below with acknowledgments to contributing staff members;  





Earth Chemistry

  • SHRIMP SI Sample Stage Mechanical Engineering - Corrigan
  • IFLEX Electrometer - Schram
  • SHRIMP SI FC4, Field Controller 4 - Latimore
  • SHRIMP SI Beam Monitors - Cummins
  • SHRIMP SI ION, Optical communications network HUB - Redman
  • SHRIMP SI HV High Voltage system - Schram, Sasaki, Redman
  • SHRIMP SI SIMHK Magnet House Keeper - Sasaki, Redman, Latimore
  • SHRIMP SI Field Probes - Cummins
  • SHRIMP SI SIADU Analogue signal Distribution Unit - Sasaki
  • SHRIMP 2 S2ADU Analogue signal Distribution Unit - Sasaki
  • SHRIMP 2 Inchworm Motor Controller 2 - Latimore
  • Helix MC Line Solenoid valve Control unit - Champion
  • SHRIMP 2 DVS Distributed Vacuum management System - Cassar, Latimore, Redman, Sasaki
  • SHRIMP SI IPCS Ion Pulse Counting System - Sasaki, Latimore
  • SHRIMP 2 Relocation to J5 - Electronics Group

Earth Materials & Processes

  • Green Machine upgrade - Schram
  • J1PC - Jaeger 1 Process Cooling - Cassar

Earth Physics

  • Heating Mat Controller Upgrade - Redman
  • Pump Remote Control - Sasaki
  • Submersible pump modifications - Sasaki

Earth Environment

  • Graphitization Furnace: 12 channel - Schram
  • IICU - PCIS Integration & Interface control Unit - Cummins
  • Laser Ablation Cell Development - Corrigan
  • Liquid Nitrogen Cryogenic Heater motor stage controller - Latimore, Corrigan
  • Cave Sensor development - Cummins


The Electronics Group comprises of seven employees with one post employed on part time bases. The Electronics Group contains;

  • Engineer and Manager (Latimore)
  • Senior Technical Officer Mechanical (Corrigan)
  • Technical Specialist (Schram) Part Time post
  • Two Technical Officers (Cassar, Cummins)
  • Two Trainee Technical Officers (Redman, Sasaki)
  • Trainee Technical Officer 2008 Secondment (Champion)

In 2008 the Electronics Group hosted Greg Champion a Trainee Technical officer employed by John Curtin School of Medical Research. Greg worked in RSES Electronics Group for a two month secondment involving practical and theoretical training provided by Electronics staff. The Group has continued to involve training as part of daily operations and is committed to developing staff member’s technical skills and knowledge. This year David Cassar has commenced study into ANU’s Bachelor of Engineering degree, his tertiary expertises will broaden the Electronics Group’s knowledge base for future electronic engineering projects.    


The 2009 Electronics Group budget indicates replacing aging analysis equipment including purchasing a new Nuclear Magnetic Resonance probe a precision Magnetic field measuring device. In 2009 the Group has planned to purchase a flat panel printer capable of producing quality instrument panel designs that may be utilised throughout the wider University electronics community. Considerable time is forecast for SHRIMP SI implementation with the majority of components nearing completion at the end of 2008. Resources will be allocated to achieve a mid year completion of electronic instrumentation for the project, also major projects will continue concurrently including, installation of the Jaeger 1 Process Cooling for Earth Materials and Laser Ablation cell for Earth Environment. The Electronics Group will endeavour to provide timely professional service to support RSES research.

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Engineering Group 2008 Annual Report

Andrew Wilson1, David Thomson1, Carl Were1, Geoff Woodward1, Brent Butler1, Link Williams2, Ben Tranter2, Hayden Miller3 and Nick Best4
1 Research School of Earth Sciences, Australian National University, Canberra, ACT 0200, Australia
2 College of Science Apprentice on six to nine month rotation
3Trainee Technical Officer 50/50 Earth Materials/Workshop from October
4On Secondment from JCSMR Workshop for the month of January 2008

The Engineering Workshop was heavily occupied this year with internal work from all areas of the school. In an effort to provide parity to all major areas of the school, progress on the SHRIMP SI was somewhat compromised, although a completion within the first six months of 2009 should be quite achievable. Due to the high demand for workshop time from within the school very little external work was carried out.

A higher than usual amount of training was necessary for apprentices Link Williams and Ben Tranter as well as for Hayden Miller joining us half time in the last few months of the year. The purchase of some new equipment also added to our training requirements.

Workshop staff logged a total of 8818 hours to the month of November. 69% of total hours were devoted to charged RSES internal work. External clients accounted for 2% of our time. 29% of our time was uncharged.

Internally the main commitments were:

New Lathe showing side milling on SHRIMP SI component

SHRIMP SI- Internal mechanical components. (Geoff Woodward, David Thomson, Brent Butler, Link Williams, Ben Tranter and Andrew Wilson)
New hot pressing and rock deformation furnace assembly for Prof Ian Jackson (Brent Butler, Link Williams)
Coral coring kits for Prof Malcolm McCulloch and Dr Stewart Fallon. One kit for Dr Sander Scheffers of Southern Cross University. (Carl Were, Ben Tranter)
Ten new half inch bore pressure vessels for Prof Hugh O’Neill. (Carl Were, David Thomson)
General SHRIMP Maintenance (Ben Tranter, David Thomson and Link Williams)
SHRIMP RG ESA Modifications and deflection electrodes (Nick Best, Brent Butler and Andrew Wilson)
OSL Broadband Lens components (Andrew Wilson, Ben Tranter)
Gravitational instrument supports for Dr Herb McQueen (Ben Tranter, Link Williams, Brent Butler and Carl Were)  
Extensive support was also provided for Dr Masahiko Honda’s Noble Gas Laboratory including new standard tanks, furnace elements and heat shields, (Ben Tranter, David Thomson, Andrew Wilson, Carl Were and Brent Butler)

It is interesting to note that 24% of our charged time was spent on jobs which took less than 50 hours each to complete.   
2557 hours of uncharged time was accounted for as follows:
39% Staff Training
27% Workshop Administration
16% Workshop Infrastructure. This includes the time taken for improvements and modifications to tooling, machines, workshop layout, workshop storage and assistance with workshop building maintenance.
13% Machine Maintenance
5% of uncharged hours were spent at meetings, seminars, conferences and exhibitions as well as on some uncharged jobs.

Other Developments

Specially modified stainless steel vacuum fittings

A new CNC Lathe and a second hand Elecro-Discharge Machine (EDM) were installed early in the year. The Lathe, a Mori-Seiki NL machine, was funded with the Vice Chancellors infrastructure fund which we received late 2006. The Lathe is unique to the ANU in that it has live tooling enabling complex off axis milling, as well as the usual turning operations and has already proved a valuable asset.  The EDM machine, a Sodick Moldmaker 3, was purchased using workshop funds.

Brent Butler has again been involved in 'Worldskills' where the top apprentices are selected nationally to compete in the prestigious Worldskills international competition. Brent was selected as the Australian coach for the Manufacturing team Challenge event which is one of 40 categories to be held in Calgary later in 2009. Brent has been involved in this competition since being part of the team that won the international gold medal in Helsinki in 2005.


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