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Electronic Design Service

Custom Design

A major part of Micro-Robotics' business is in the design and production of embedded control systems to individual customer specification.

See our skill set and production facility.

Here are some recent embedded controller board designs selected from the many consultancy projects we have undertaken. We designed all of these boards, manufactured most of them, and wrote the application software for many.

Design portfolio

New Logger for BAS

New Logger for BAS The British Antarctic Survey has commissioned Micro-Robotics to produce a general purpose data logger that builds on technology developed for the Radar Controller.

The logger has dual redundant memory cards, an Iridium satellite modem, a GPS module and an I2C Bus as standard.

New features are two instrument channels, each consisting of a power-switchable RSR232 serial port and associated 12VDC power supply, a large number of general purpose I/O pins and a prototyping area. An Ethernet interface allows it to be configured using a web browser. The low power sleep mode is critical in extending battery life over the Antarctic winter.

Technologies

  • File systems on two SD cards for redundancy
  • Ethernet
  • Iridium satalite modem
  • GPS
  • Ethernet for Web server
  • Low power standby modes
  • Ultra Low power, low noise switching power supply

Software

Software will be written by the customer in Venom2.

4A Switch Mode Power Supply with 5µA Iq

4A Switch Mode Power Supply with 5µA I<sub>q</sub> Designed for the British Antarctic Survey, this is a switch mode power supply for instruments powered from a 12V battery. The 5µA quiescent current means the power supply can be left on continously for months without undue drain on the battery, removing the need for complex power switching. The efficency of better than 90% is remarkable, though not critical in this application.

Technologies

  • Low noise Switch Mode Power Supply design

USB - RS-232 Converter

USB - RS-232 Converter This implements the host side driver for a proprietary USB device protocol, and converts data received over the USB link into RS-232 serial messages.

Technologies

  • Custom board
  • Low power consumption (the whole installation is usually battery powered)
  • USB host for proprietary device class

Software

Embedded C, incorporating selected object drivers from Venom OS, written by Micro-Robotics.

Swimming Pool Plant Room Controller (Mk 3)

Swimming Pool Plant Room Controller (Mk 3) This pair of boards controls and monitors swimming pool plant. It senses chemical levels, flow rates, temperature, etc. and operates dosing pumps and heaters to maintain set point levels.

The controller is based on our VM2D module, which drives a full colour VGA touchscreen display.

Software

Application code written in Venom2 by Micro-Robotics. The HMI is based on our GUI Framework.

Technologies

  • VGA LCD & Touchscreen
  • USB and MicroSD Card file systems
  • Ethernet
  • CAN Bus
  • Fully isolated analogue inputs
  • Pulse counting inputs
  • Thermistor inputs
  • Relay outputs

Precision Complex-Impedance Instrument

Precision Complex-Impedance Instrument This device measures complex impedance (i.e. real and imaginary parts) to better than 0.01%. It can read twelve channels concurrently at up to 100KHz.

Technologies

  • Fast 16-bit ADCs
  • High speed, high precision analogue design
  • DDS (Direct Digital Synthesis) - of drive frequency
  • ARM Cortex-M3 Microcontroller (STM32)

Software

Embedded C: Full driver software, including Fourier techniques and complex analysis, written by Micro-Robotics.

Gas Sensor Interface

Gas Sensor Interface This controls an array of gas sensors to monitor air quality.

Technologies

  • Relays and digital outputs
  • 4-20mA 18 bit analogue input with overcurrent protection
  • All I/O connected by I2C
  • VM2 controller on standard application board (not shown)
  • Colour Graphics display (not shown)

Software

Venom2 code written by customer.

Graphical User Interface Controller: Medical

Graphical User Interface Controller: Medical This unit sits at the heart of several different high-end medical instruments. It was commissioned because embedded PCs proved too slow and unreliable.

Technologies

  • CAN Bus
  • SD Memory Card
  • Full colour LCD (TFT or CSTN)
  • Touch Screen
  • Very low power consumption

Software

Embedded C: Comprehensive self-test suite written by Micro-Robotics; application code written by customer.

Swimming Pool Plant Room Controller (Mk 2)

Swimming Pool Plant Room Controller (Mk 2) Previous version of the swimming pool controller, based on VM1.

Controls and monitors swimming pool dosing, flow rates, temperature, etc. Based around our standard VM1 controller (seen left of image), and also carrying our QVGA Display Driver and Ethernet modules.

Technologies

  • Ethernet
  • CAN Bus
  • GSM Modem with SMS text messaging
  • QVGA LCD & Touchscreen
  • Fully isolated analogue input sections
  • Pulse counting inputs
  • Thermistor inputs
  • Relay outputs

Software

Venom-SC: Application code written by Micro-Robotics. Venom-SC applications are easily modified by the OEM on site.

Ultra-High Impedance Buffer Amplifier

Ultra-High Impedance Buffer Amplifier Probe-head buffer amplifier to signal-condition pH and Redox probes for plant room control system above. Copes with source impedances in the Gig-Ohm range.

Technologies

  • Ultra-high impedance circuit techniques.

Vacuum Pump Controller: Medical

Vacuum Pump Controller: Medical Controls vacuum applied to an airtight dressing to reduce wound healing times. Has saved many lives. Mains or battery powered.

Very high volume product: 24,000 units manufactured by us as of December 2010.

Technologies

  • Pressure sensors
  • Pump Drive
  • Graphical user interface: 16-level grey scale QVGA LCD
  • Touch Screen
  • On board high capacity serial flash

Software

Embedded C: Self-test suite written by Micro-Robotics; application code written by customer.

Portable Vacuum Pump Controller: Medical

Portable Vacuum Pump Controller: Medical

Portable version of the device above. Can be worn at the patient's hip. Battery powered.

Technologies

  • Pressure sensors
  • Space/form-restricted design
  • Innovative pump drive software for power saving

Software

Embedded C: Full application and self-test code written by Micro- Robotics.

Remote-control Visual Basic application to monitor and control units in the field over telephone line, and also update operating system: written by Micro-Robotics.

Clinical Nerve Stimulator

Clinical Nerve Stimulator Delivers high voltage, low energy pulse stream to patient's skin and monitors response. Engineered for size, cost, user interface and power consumption.

Technologies

  • High voltage pulse generation and measurement
  • Small form factor graphics LCD
  • Very low power consumption
  • Ergonomic handheld design
  • Pay-as-you-go credit scheme with encrypted recharge facility

Software

Embedded C: Written by Micro-Robotics. PC-based recharge application written by Micro-Robotics.

Clinical Nerve Stimulator - Prototype

Clinical Nerve Stimulator  - Prototype Prototype for the above, based on our standard VM1 embedded controller. Fifteen prototypes were used in successful clinical trials before the production unit was commissioned.

The controller is not fitted in this image. It plugs into the black connectors and is the same width as the main board.

Software

Embedded C: Written by Micro-Robotics.

Down-Hole Data Logger

Down-Hole Data Logger Measures physical parameters several kilometres down a borehole, transmitting them to the surface over a current loop serial link. Based on our standard VM1 controller, seen here mounted in the centre of the main board.

This was a quick turn-around design to meet ship sailing deadline: six weeks from contact to working prototypes, further three weeks to production units.

Technologies

  • 10 channels of 16-bit analogue data acquisition

Software

Venom-SC: Application code written by customer.

Concrete Mixing Plant Controller

Concrete Mixing Plant Controller Controls weighing and mixing of ingredients in concrete production plant. Based around our standard VM1 embedded controller and QVGA LCD Driver module.

Technologies

  • 16-bit loadcell bridge analogue inputs
  • QVGA LCD for graphical user interface
  • Opto-isolated 4-20mA output

Software

Venom-SC

Pneumatic Mattress Controller: Medical

Pneumatic Mattress Controller: Medical High volume, low cost controller for therapeutic mattress. Alternating inflation of mattress cells to reduce risk of bedsores. 230/115 VAC Mains powered.

Technologies

  • Pressure sensors
  • Opto TRIACs

Software

Embedded C: Full application and self-test code written by Micro- Robotics.