Technical Support Services Group (TSS)

Contact

Andy White
email: andy.white@york.ac.uk
tel: +44 (0)1904 322412

The TSS group is an interdisciplinary group of nine technician engineering staff.  The group are split across two distinct locations within the Electronics Department and provide both technical design and build support to all Departmental research groups as well as direct support to all practical teaching.   Three members of staff are predominantly based within our cleanroom suite and nano technology laboratories, the remainder cover all other areas including electronic and electromechanical.

The skilled group have expertise in a wide range of engineering skills, in particular the full range of the Electronics discipline but also in programming, embedded IT systems and increasingly in 3D mechanical design and manufacture utilising a range of in-house digital manufacturing equipment.

The group is managed by Mr Andrew (Andy) David White MIET, Senior MIEEE.

Andy joined the Electronics Department in 1983 initially as a trainee and has for a number of years managed this highly successful group.

The TSS group maintains and runs a number of hardware laboratories and workshops that provide essential support facilities to the research groups and teaching.  The services it offers can range from simple advice, cable making and parts sourcing through system design and build, to full engineering project management including international representation.

TSS Facilities

The Clean Room facilities for fabrication and measurement of nano-scale devices.

Printed Circuit Board Production Laboratory

This laboratory contains a comprehensive set of PCB production equipment able to produce through-holeplated PCBs.

Equipment includes:

  • Guillotine
  • Dry Film Laminator
  • UV Exposure Unit
  • Spray Developer
  • Spray Etch Machine
  • Through-Hole-Plating Line
  • Vacuum Paste Plating System
  • Curing Oven
  • Range of Ultrasonic Cleaning Baths

Fabrication Workshop

The fabrication workshop, contains a range of electronic and mechanical tools for the construction and testing of electronic systems including packaging into instrument cases or equipment racks.

Equipment available in this area includes:

  • Soldering equipment 
  • Desoldering equipment
  • Surface Mount Assembly equipment
  • BGA Rework Station
  • Precision Liquid Dispensers
  • Paste Stencil Printer
  • Vapour Phase Reflow System
  • Inspection Equipment (Binocular Microscopes and 3D Magnifier)
  • PCB Drills
  • Large Pillar Drill
  • Wide range of mechanical hand tools.

The fabrication workshop also holds a small Tool Makers Lathe and 4 Axis Auto Tool Change CNC Milling Machine which are both used by the technical staff in support of both teaching and research.

3D Design Office 

Using predominantly Autodesk CAD/CAM products the group uses 7 high end PC workstations for the design, simulation and output for production of 3D parts. These may be simple single parts through to complex fully assembled electromechanical machines.

Digital Fabrication Lab

One of the project laboratories contains an embryonic digital fabrication laboratory. The lab brings together several items of fabrication equipment as enabling technologies.  A high speed Auto Tool Change Router and Drill allows a fast chemical free production of simple PCBs. A CO2 Laser Cutter enables CAD designed cutting and engraving of multi materials from glass through wood, rubber and Perspex and a high resolution Liquid Polymer 3D Plastics Printer enables the realisation of novel and imaginative enclosures and associated support hardware.

Specialist Test Equipment

The TSS maintains a large array of electronic test equipment, the majority of which may be borrowed by research groups or used by undergraduates within the teaching laboratories. 

A wide range of advanced equipment is available including:

  • Tektronix DPO4054 Oscilloscope (500MHz 2.5 GHz sampling rate)
  • Tektronix MDO3024 Oscilloscope (200MHz 2.5 GHz sampling rate) Mixed Domain (3GHz Spectrum Analyser)
  • Tektronix MSO2014 Oscilloscope (100MHz 1 GHz sampling rate) Mixed Signal (16 Channel Digital Input)
  • RF Spectrum Analysers (up to 25GHz) with complex vector signal analysis software
  • RF Network Analysers (up to 6GHz)
  • RF Signal Generators (up to 7GHz)
  • RF Power Meters (up to 40GHz)
  • Frequency Counters (up to 18GHz)
  • Arbitrary Waveform Generators (50MHz)
  • Infrared Thermal Imaging Cameras
  • Environmental Temperature Test Chamber (-42°C to +190°C)
  • Audio Spectrum Analysers
  • Wideband Noise Source
  • Logic Analysers with Serial Bus Decode
  • Microcontroller Programmers
  • Programmable Logic Device Programmers
  • Vector Voltmeters
  • Audio Amplifiers
  • Low Distortion Oscillators

The TSS is a multidiscipline team with specialist knowledge in the following areas:

Project management (including international collaborations)

RF systems design and manufacture

Microcontroller system design

Embedded PC systems

PC networking system design

Programming

FPGA and DSP system design

Electronic construction techniques

Spintronic device design, fabrication and characterisation

Semiconductor device design, fabrication and characterisation

Vacuum technology and electron optics

Synthesis and characterisation of magnetic materials for data storage

PCB design techniques

PCB manufacture

Electronic equipment and component sourcing

Purchasing

Teaching module specification and design

Health and Safety

FPGA Design and Development Capabilities

The group has considerable expertise in Xilinx™ development systems, with many current taught modules and research projects making use of Xilinx FPGAs, and the teaching laboratories using the Xilinx University Programme programming and development software.

To support the higher requirements of our MSc in Digital System Engineering, a specialised teaching and project facility was developed by the group, providing a supportive environment where the students will design their own bespoke Spartan 6 development board.  This board's design is focused on allowing the implementation of embedded systems for use in their group project and can include a selection of I/O, networking, displays and sensors.

Large Scale Projects

The group has a successful record of designing, building and subsequent trial of complex electromechanical systems.

The group recently completed the design/build phase of a physically large machine of 3200m3.  The 30kW computer controlled motion system is for use in a collaborative project with the University of York Biology Department SkyGas project 

In the recent past the group have worked on a number of complex electro mechanical systems, the most recent being described immediately below.  Older previous relevant projects are then recorded below that.

 Scanner System for 3D Electromagnetic Field Measurements

This system was designed and built by the TSS team in response to a requirement of the Applied Electromagnetics Laboratory, which forms part of the Physical Layer Research Group, to accurately measure electromagnetic fields over a large (approximately 1m3) volume.  Positional accuracy in all three axis was required to be an impressive 0.005mm.  The TSS team designed the mechanical structure, specified the motors and drive systems, designed and built the custom electronic control systems, produced the bespoke control software programmes and realised the entire working system within the TSS facilities and utilising their expertise.  Additionally, the unique field probe devised by the Applied Electromagnetics Group to be positioned by the scanner was designed and built by the TSS team.

2008–2009 Project to design and build experimental radio based technologies for inclusion in to unmanned air vehicles (UAV).

2008–2009 Electronic systems/control systems other than mmwave for European Space Agency funded novel train based steerable vsat satellite antenna project under contract no. 20836/07/NL/CB.

2006–2008 High altitude WIMAX communications payload. Design, build and trial full featured complex high altitude WIMAX payload.

2005–2006 Capanina high altitude payload. For trial 2, the design and build of payload and all payload support systems other than mmwave systems.  Operation of successful mmwave ‘one off’ high altitude trial (79,000ft). Funded by the European Commission as an FP6 STREP.

1998–2001 The design, procurement and installation of 34GHz high power radar system.

1998–1999 The design, procurement, installation and operational handover of highly specialised 93GHz radiometer and support systems.

The technical support staff are located in a suite of rooms on the 4th floor and support the teaching and research work of the department. The group provides a full range of design and fabrication services, including PCB design and production, and circuit and system design and construction.