High Performance, Low Cost…

Our Team and Workflow

During the course of building the instruments described on this website, I’ve had the great pleasure of working with two people whose contributions i’d like to acknowledge. Absolutely everything you’ll see here is the product of a team consisting of just three people - myself, Yuri Bakhtadze and Jasmine Patyi.

The workflow we’ve adopted to rapidly take concepts through to fully functional instruments may be of interest and so that’s explained briefly here.

Having a need or seeing a niche for a new instrument, Richard first investigates possible sensors and chipsets and then sketches up some preliminary schematics. As described elsewhere, our starting point is a tried-and-true base design that builds on either the Propeller or XMOS platforms. Our instruments will almost always make use of a LabVIEWTM-based front end offering a nice graphical user interface (GUI). A professional look and feel is an important aspect of any new design.

Schematics next go to Yuri. After finalising these, and discussions about component placement, Yuri then works on a draft PCB layout. There are typically several iterations at this stage until Richard checks out the final PCB layout for compatibility with the previously agreed-upon schematic.

We have our PCB’s manufactured by GoldPhoenix PCB in Shenzhen, China. Often, several designs are being developed in parallel and it is more economical to produce a panel having multiple PCB’s. Typically around 10 days after email submission, a FedEx package arrives back in Melbourne, Australia with bare boards ready to be populated.

We source most of the components for our instrument projects at either Digikey, or Mouser. These are large US electronics suppliers that have huge catalogs and highly efficient ordering and delivery systems. Components ordered from either of these vendors on a Monday have usually arrived in Melbourne within the same working week !

At this stage the PCB’s and parts are delivered to Jasmine, who is a true expert at hand soldering SMT devices. Over the years Jasmine has assembled numerous PCB’s for me and they rarely ever have problems. Recently we’ve also had excellent results using a temperature-programmed toaster oven to fabricate PCB’s.

While Jasmine is populating the PCB’s, Richard works on code development so that populated boards, once received, can be tested. Code is written in Spin/ASM on the Propeller and XC on XMOS-based designs, while on the PC end we use LabVIEWTM.

Once we are at this final stage the code gets tweaked as experiments are carried out to characterize and document the performance of each new instrument.

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Yuri Bakhtadze

Yuri graduated from the Radiophysics Department in the Faculty of Physics at Tbilisi State University in Georgia.

He has scientific research and instrument development and design experience, holding a number of positions including at the Analytical Instruments Design bureau, Georgian Technical University, Tbilisi State University, Tbilisi, Republic of Georgia, the CSIRO Division of Atmospheric Research in Aspendale, Victoria and at Monash University in Melbourne, Australia.

Since 2000, Yuri has been working under the business name Maze Smart Solutions in the field of printed circuit board design. You will see the Maze name on most of the PCB’s on this website.

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Jasmine Patyi

Jasmine has many years experience in electronic circuit assembly.

Today, SMD’s (surface-mounted devices) are ubiquitous in her electronic prototype and production assembly work at her daytime full-time job.

With keen eyes for detail, Jasmine uses a soldering station and her steady hands to turn piles of electronic components into finely finished electronic assemblies.