Self Employed – so far so good.

When my three year term at CSIRO was coming to a close (on 31-December-2002) I asked for reduced hours for the following year.
Be careful what you wish for – you may get it – or not.
The group had a funding cut, I was asked what I wanted to do and I said I wanted to be a contractor.
That wish was granted
Did I get my wish for less work?
No - because before I finished the term I was booked out for about 12 to18 months of full time work.

Contracting from home has been good because my elderly mother needs me to do stuff for her during business hours. I am looking forward to a holiday though and can't see it happening for a while yet. But at least my bank balance has improved this year. I enjoy most of the projects I'm working on but would prefer to stick to one instead of changing context so often. I try to spend a minimum of 2 weeks of one project at a time – ideally longer but there are deadlines people have to meet so it doesn't always turn out that way. My year started with three projects all with a march deadline. Two were funded by JCOAL money (Japanese) and had the same review dates. The third was co-incidental. Most of my work is still for CSIRO but most is for a different groups than the one I worked for previously. My other client is jk-technology aka jk-tek aka Jerkins-Kwan technology (Barry Jenkins).

I can't discuss some things I'm working on, Barry has a project I will add once he is ready to deliver.

Mostly I write code in assembler for the Atmel AVR-mega128. I write some AVR code in ImageCraft 'C'. Some small projects use the AVR-mega8. All my PC code is in Delphi. Mostly this is test code to check out the AVR programs but some is stand alone applications.

2003 .

Modbus ethernet protocol converter. - CSIRO
An AVR-based device for converting “modbus over TCP” to modbus over serial. One of the few AVR projects done in “C” mostly I use assembler. The modbus device of interest in called a “trollex”.
This project included writing simulators and testers for a PC.
Ongoing - Next step is an I.S. (intrinsically safe) fibre version of the PCB.

Low power RF links and data-loggers for geo-technical measurements - CSIRO
An AVR based system primarily for monitoring roof de-lamination in underground mines. Can data-log, relay packets to extend range and sleep to reduce current drain.

12 to 8 bit conversion of mono-chrome images - JK-tek
A program to convert images take on a 12 bit axio-cam camera to 8 bit by removing unwanted shades and compressing the rest. This is to make them compatible with a particular image processing package which doesn't support 12 bit data.
Ongoing - Next step – to handle extra image sizes.

TBA – JK-tek

Light meter- JK-tek
A light meter for checking microscope illumination.
Future unknown.

CAS (collision avoidance system) - CSIRO
An ethernet based data acquisition system for taking 8 analog signals and making them available as UDP.


More Modbus ethernet protocol converter stuff – laid out our own PCB and ported the software to it (mega128 based).

More radio work, the project has grown to include longer range links for open-cut pits and chock monitor for long-wall operations. We are moving from RFM to Melexis RF chips. We lost funding from J-coal (japan) so we have to be even more frugal than last year.

Mostly I've been continuing to do telemetry stuff for CSIRO. Mostly it is the do with monitoring chocks in longwall underground coal mines.


Not doing much paid work which isn't such a bad thing. Still do a bit for CSIRO and I'm back at QUT part time project managing their robotic observatory (NTQO).

I stayed involved with NTQO for a while but it folded for a number of reasons.

I stayed on at QUT 3 days a week till the end of 2010 and worked for the high-power engineering group. We were working on building a small micro-grid for research and training.

Amongst other things I programmed a TMS 320F28 based system to generate the IGBT firing pulses  for a 30KV 3phase inverter stack (semicron).


I left QUT to be a carer for my 87 year old mother.
I continued to consult/contract to CSIRO but on a very limited basis.


Mum passed away in February 2012 and I'm doing more work for CSIRO.

Finally after 7 years of work we have our intrinsically  safe (I.S.) tilt sensors working in a longwall coal mine. These are based on the RF work begun in 2003 with a changed from reading extensometer data to reading tilt on long-wall chocks.
We can detect about 1/1000 of a degree angle change on 3 places on the chocks in order to compute "closure" ie the distance from roof to floor to a resolution of 200 micron.

These days I use assembler and winavr (gcc) to code the micros and sharpdevelop (c#) to code PC apps.
For certification reasons I'm still coding for obsolete mega128 AVRs.