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 Group 2009 Annual Report

Research School of Earth Sciences   Electronics Group   Annual Report 2009
Andrew Latimore, Tristan Redman, Norm Schram, Derek Corrigan, Daniel Cummins, David Cassar, Hideo Sasaki
Research School of Earth Sciences, Australian National University, Canberra, ACT 0200, Australia

Table 1
RSES Electronics Group Resource Distribution 2009

Labour totals hours %
Administration total 1307 15
Maintenance total 1355 16
R&D Total 5822 69
Total 8483 100 
Electronics Group overheads 717 55
Study leave + other 590 35
Total 1307 100
Earth Chemistry 828 61
Earth Environment 139 10
Earth Materials & Processes 212 16
Earth Physics 52 4
Mechanical workshop 35 3
External clients+ other 15 5
Electronics workshop 26 2
Total 1355  100
Research and Development    
Earth Chemistry 3615 62
Earth Environment 947 16
Earth Materials & Processes 1078 19
Earth Physics 3 0
Mechanical workshop 31 1
External clients + other 149 3
Total 5822 100


The Electronics Group provides technical support, research and development facilities and advanced electronics maintenance to all areas of RSES academic research.

During 2009 the Electronics Group undertook numerous engineering projects indicated by the proportion of labour distributed to Research and Development tasks, see table1. We have experienced a high demand for electronic maintenance this period, our group endeavours to promptly attend to any problem and pride ourselves on maintaining legacy equipment. This year has proven extremely productive with several major projects coming to fruition. The highlights of 2009 were the completion of electronic systems for Earth Chemistry’s SHRIMP SI mass spectrometer project and Jaeger 1 Process Cooling System, a major infrastructure project involving an intelligent and environmentally sound method to cool high pressure apparatuses.

Electronic Engineering Highlights

Shrimp SI
Several electronic engineering projects for the development of SHRIMP SI have been completed this year, each deserves commendation with significant design and fabrication required achievable only through years of experience and improvement to existing designs. The highlights include;

  • Commissioning the new Iflex electrometers, (Schram)
  • Sample stage mechanical design, (Corrigan)
  • High voltage control, (Schram, Redman, Sasaki)
  • Vacuum Management system, (Cassar, Latimore, Sasaki)
  • Motor control system, (Redman)
  • Field control system, (Latimore)
  • Magnet safety system, (Sasaki, Redman)
  • Data acquisition system, (Cummins,, Latimore)
  • Beam monitors, (Cummins, Redman)
  • Microprocessor (Latimore)

These systems are unique to SHRIMP SI involving hours of design, programming, construction and testing. The team has worked professionally to successfully produce all systems in view of an end of year completion schedule.

Jaeger 1 Process Cooling
During 2009 the Research School of Earth Sciences committed to designing a potable water saving plant to service all high pressure apparatuses utilised and situated in Earth Materials & Processes. The system has intelligence to cycle cooling water from a refrigerated unit to dry air cooler to maximise efficiency, minimising power consumption. The system provides chilled water to 20 experiments and will safely cut power and supply of water in the event of any detectable leakage, saving the school substantial water costs and reducing the schools environmental impacted. The project was a major initiative supported by ANU Green and was developed in conjunction with ANU F&S. All electronic controls were design and implemented by RSES Electronics Group. The project has proven to be a prominent illustration of water management and example for future conservation projects.

Laser Ablation Cell
During 2009 our mechanical engineering efforts have been partially focused on design and construction of a new gas distribution and control system for the ICP-MS Laser Ablation Cell device. Engineering drawings of the ablation cell were produced and construction of several cells has commenced. The Electronics Group has begun a new design for producing a more efficient and improved cell based on previous technologies. 

Our team has new projects insight for 2010 including the development of digital data recorders for Seismology and Graphitisation furnace system automation. These projects will allow the group to investigate new areas of electronics and mechanical design. The Electronics Group will endeavour to provide timely professional service to support RSES research.


Top of page

Engineering Group 2009 Annual Report

Andrew Wilson1, David Thomson1, Carl Were1, Geoff Woodward1, Brent Butler1, Link Williams2, Ben Tranter2, Hayden Miller3
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

Completion of SHRIMP SI was the priority for the Engineering Workshop for 2009.  Progress was very good with all internals completed during the year. Some work remains on the sample manipulator and various fitting and assembly details as required in early 2010. All workshop staff contributed well to the SHRIMP SI. Mr Geoff Woodward and Mr David Thomson in particular have made major contributions.

The usual demand from other areas of the school remained throughout the year so very little external work was undertaken.

An important project for 2010 will be the construction of a high temperature furnace for Dr Masahiko Honda’s new Mass Spectrometer. Considerable design work has been devoted to this project over the last few months by Mr Brent Butler and Mr Ben Tranter.

Workshop staff logged a total of 7469 hours to the month of December. 77% of total hours were devoted to RSES internal work. External clients accounted for 2% of our time. 21% of our time was uncharged.
26% of our charged/internal time was spent on jobs which took less than 50 hours to complete.

Internally the main commitments were:

Rock Mechanics Furnace Core- Showing fine helical
grooving in Aluminum Oxide for heater windings

SHRIMP SI- Internal mechanical components. (Geoff Woodward, David Thomson, Brent Butler, Link Williams, Ben Tranter, Hayden Miller and Andrew Wilson)

Safety Shields for 200T presses for Prof Hugh O’Neill (Hayden Miller, David Thomson)

Rotatable ICPMS slit mechanism for Prof Hugh O’Neill. (Carl Were)

Completion of ten new half inch bore pressure vessels for Prof Hugh O’Neill. (Carl Were, David Thomson)

General SHRIMP Maintenance (Carl Were, David Thomson and Geoff Woodward)

Laboratory acid column racks for Dr Oliver Nebel (Brent Butler, Ben Tranter and Carl Were)

Beam alignment posts and special vacuum fittings for Dr Stewart Fallon. (Andrew Wilson, Carl Were, Geoff Woodward)

Porewater samplers for Dr Stephen Eggins (Brent Butler)

Support was also provided for Professor Ian Jacksons Rock Mechanics Laboratory including new furnace cores, high temperature/pressure apparatus modifications and the usual sample preparation.  (Geoff Woodward, Ben Tranter, Andrew Wilson, Carl Were, Hayden Miller and Brent Butler)
1582 hours of uncharged time was accounted for as follows:

22% Staff Training
35% Workshop Administration
20% Workshop Infrastructure. This includes the time taken for improvements and modifications to tooling, machines, workshop layout, workshop storage and assistance with workshop building maintenance.
11% Machine Maintenance
12% of uncharged hours were spent at meetings, seminars, conferences and exhibitions as well as on some uncharged jobs.

Other Developments

A new CNC Machining Center is due to arrive early in 2010. This machine will add physically larger CNC milling capacity, the ability to do heavy cutting and advantages of a modern interface. The machine, an Okuma MB-56 Machining Center, was purchased using workshop funds made possible by the internal charge back arrangement which has been in place for several years.

During the year, Brent Butler coached the Australian national team to the silver medal in the 'Worldskills' teams manufacturing category in Calgary.

Good progress has been made this year documenting unusual tasks and jobs which are repeated regularly. Improved knowledge management is vital for retaining techniques and methods into the future.



Top of page