Capabilities

Materials

- Steel and stainless steel
- Aluminium
- Titanium
- Composites
- Plastics

3D CAD Design

- 3D modelling
- Photo realistic rendering
- Joint design
- Design optimisation

Analysis

- Hand analysis
- FE analysis
- Fatigue analysis

Systems Engineering

- Specifications
- Requirements
- Testing & verification
- Documentation

IP Protection

- Patent process
- Prior art
- Costs and benefits

 

Python Robot

We have designed a low cost robot which can be easily programmed via Python. Its purpose is to teach kids programming and electronics skill via fun challenges. 

The software is based on the MircoPython project. When the robot is plugged into a computer it comes up as a flash storage device. This allows Python scripts to be stored and executed straight from the robot’s memory. In addition a Python command prompt is available via a serial connection for executing commands in real time.

The robot’s hardware includes car like LED lights (headlight, tail light, indicators). In the first lessons these lights will be switched on and off. 

The micro controller’s in built analogue to digital converter can be used to measure the battery voltage and the battery current. A battery charger circuit is included and the battery will be charged when the robot is plugged into a USB port.

Currently the robot includes a 3 axis digital accelerometer. For the final version this will be changed to a sensor with an additional 3 axis gyroscope. The sensor can be read and programmed via the SPI bus.

Further lessons will teach handling of hardware and software interrupts. Hardware interrupts are created by pressing buttons or by the accelerometer when new data is available. Software interrupts can be created by CPU timers for example to blink the indicator lights. With pulse width modulation (PWM) it is possible to control the brightness of the tail light to switch from normal to brake lights. 

Extension boards make it possible to detect obstacles, control the robot via WiFi and add a camera. 

The distance sensor for obstacle detection includes a laser system and is based on the ‘time of flight’ of the laser light. The chip also includes a brightness sensor for switching the robot’s LEDs automatically when it gets dark. The sensor is controlled via the I2C bus.

Detailed tutorials will be provided to make it easier for teachers to prepare for lessons. The resources will also make it possible for motivated kids to learn about programming, micro controllers and Python at their own pace.

Current prototype

 Current Prototype

Current hardware of the prototype:

Item Description Interface
CPU STM32F407VGT6  
Micro USB Charging + Communication USB FS Device
Micro SD card slot Storage of Python scripts and data SDIO
Buttons User and reset button GPIO
Switches DIP switch for DFU mode and to disable reset button  
LEDs Head lights, tail lights and blinkers GPIO (PWM)
Accelerometer LIS3DSH from ST SPI + GPIO
Charging + Power supply LTC4081 from Linear  
Battery 500mAh LiPo  
Battery current  MAX4069 from Maxim (bi-directional) A/D Converter
Battery voltage Resistor network A/D Converter
Motor drivers DRV8835 from TI GPIO (PWM)
Motors 2 x Bipolar stepper motors, diameter 15 mm  
Distance sensor VL6180 from ST via extension header I2C + GPIO
Programming Via extension header SWD
Camera Via extension header I2C + DCMI
WiFi Via extension header GPIO + UART + SPI

 

A video demonstrating the laser 'time of flight' distance sensor.

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Computer rendering of the production concept. Main changes are the addition of an audio amp, digital volume adjustment and speaker to play audio files using the digital to analogue converter of the micro controller. 

 

Testing of the micro controller digital to analogue converter. Sound files are stored in the wave format on the SD card.

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Supporting Chinese rolling stock manufacturers

We continue to support Chinese rolling stock manufacturers during the tender process for Australian and overseas projects. Services provided include:

  • Review of documents prepared by the Chinese client such as letters, presentations and technical specifications to ensure they meet objectives, are easily understood and written in good English
  • Giving presentations and taking notes in meetings and telephone conferences
  • Explaining and interpreting western standards and specifications to the Chinese client
  • Developing strategies to ensure the Chinese customer is well presented
  • Suggesting technical solutions to meet requirements

Additionally we are currently suggesting ways how composite materials such as fibre reinforced plastics and sandwich panels could be used more widely in the rail industry to reduce mass, costs and energy consumption. 

All services are provided with absolute confidentiality to ensure safety and security of sensitive data.

USB Smart Charger

The USB Smart Charger allows charging of various gadgets from 12 V to 24V battery power. It is therefore ideal for installation in Recreational Vehicles, boats, cars and trucks.

Two charging ports with auto detect function are available. The auto detect function produces the required signals on the USB data lines to allow charging of gadgets from different manufacturers like Apple, Samsung or HTC.

The high power port can deliver up to 2.1A to fast charge tablet computers and large smart phones. At higher charging currents the charging voltage is automatically increased to the upper limit of the USB voltage range to compensate for losses in the connectors and cables.

The second charging port can deliver up to 1.0A and is ideally suited for regular phones. Both charging ports can operate at the same time at maximum charge current without overloading the charger.

Special attention has been paid to robustness and ease of installation. The built in power supply can cope with a wide input voltage range as the supply battery voltage can drop significantly during engine cranking and spike during charging via alternator. The power supply is also highly efficient which keeps the charger cool and minimises the load on the supply battery.

The charger can be mounted to any flat surface via two screws. Only the power supply cable runs behind the mounting surface and therefore the space requirements behind the mounting panel are minimal.

A prototype of the smart charger has been completed and extensive testing is underway.

Bondi 36

A friend of mine contacted me and asked if I was interested in designing him a boat for a home building project. I previously designed him very successful foils for his 505 and he clearly thought I was ready for bigger projects. Since I always wanted to design boats I couldn’t say no.

The Bondi 36 is a very comfortable racer or a very fast cruising yacht. The boat construction including mast, boom and interior is completely in carbon fibre to minimise weight and maximise stiffness. Hull, deck and all interior panels have a foam sandwich core.

The fit out is more that of a cruising yacht with a heater, fridge and proper oven usually not found on a pure racing yacht. The boat is designed to win races and to be taken out on extensive holiday cruises. To improve cruising performance where the weight of the crew is missing, the boat has 500 kg of water ballast on each side. The water ballast can also be used with a racing crew on the rail to really speed things up.

The boat is currently under construction in Hamburg / Germany. The hull inner skin and the deck skins were vacuum infused. The main advantage of infusing the skins is that all plies can be wetted out in one step and that there is ample time to place the fibres correctly. It is also a much cleaner process compared to hand laminating. The actual infusion process only takes a few minutes.

KJ Engineering Consulting produced the 3D design and all structural drawings including detailed instructions for how to build the more complex items. Difficult parts include the composite chain plates, the keel and mast support structure as well as the area around the forestay attachment which also has to accommodate the retractable bowsprit. All drawings are transmitted electronically in full size. The data can be fed straight into full scale plotters or milling machines to keep tolerances extremely tight. All panels fit the first time and do not require time consuming trimming to size. The whole boat has been built to a tolerance of approximately 1 mm.

Performance prediction and the construction framework drawings were prepared by Kay-Enno Brink. Composite materials and infusion advice is provided by CTM. Mast and boom are manufactured by Andy Steiner.

There are a lot of construction photos in the Gallery section. The Bondi 36 is being built to the absolute highest standards and the level of detail is absolutely outstanding. This is definitely one of the most advanced home building projects undertaken at least in Germany.

 

Open Source Data Converter

The Open Source Data Converter is a hardware and software project with the aim of providing cost effective bi – directional data translation from different input and output sources. All transmission is transparent and independent of the protocol used. The following input and output sources will be available:

2 x CAN Bus
2 x UART
1 x USB
1 x LAN
1 x Wi-Fi

The following shows a few of the possible scenarios

Two way communication between the CAN bus and a Wi-Fi Socket

In this mode data can be transmitted wirelessly between a tablet computer and an industrial NMEA2000, CANOpen or SAE J1939 network for example.

UART to CAN bus translation  

Legacy serial network data based on RS422 or RS485 is transmitted to a host computer for example via USB. The host computer translates the data to CAN frames and transmits the data via the USB port to the CAN bus.

CAN bus and UART to LAN and Wi-Fi bridge

Multiple source ports can transmit and receive data from multiple destination ports. CAN and UART data can for example be transmitted simultaneously via LAN and Wi-Fi.

For safety reasons data transmission to the UART and CAN bus ports can be disabled via software or hardware jumpers. There can only be one host computer attached via USB, LAN or Wi-Fi. Only the host computer can change settings.

Hardware schematics and source code will be made available.

Specification

Processor:                           STM32F107, 72 MHz clock speed

Operating System:          ChibiOS

Power:                               8 – 30 V DC

CAN bus:                             2 x TI ISO1050 isolated transceiver

UART:                                2 x MAX13448 transceiver

USB:                                 1 x USB full speed device

LAN:                                 1 x 10/100 Ethernet

Wi-Fi:                               1 x CC3000-TIWI-SL, IEEE 802.11 b/g

Currently software development is taking place on a Keil MCBSTM32C development board. The main aim is to verify adequate performance of the STM32F107 processor. Should the STM32F107 processor not be adequate it is planned to switch to the 168 MHz STM32F407 processor.