The U.Q. days.
University of Queensland 1984-1992

My job at UQ was in a neuro-science lab doing electronic bits and bobs. The processor I mainly used there was the 6511Q - a 6502 based micro controller from rockwell. Rockwell had a Forth for the 6511Q which I used. The black boxes were usually stimulus generators and data loggers of one sort or another. The experimental subjects were animals - from bats that could hear 200 kHz to platypus that could detect weak electrical gradients in water.
Here's a C.V. extract written in 1992.

  • 1984 Appointed at PHYSIOLOGY and PHARMACOLOGY to work for Prof. Jack Pettigrew funded by a NHMRC grant. Designed and built sound sequencer and neural spike logger, interface them to I.B.M. PC. The above was programmed in assembler and the PC programmed in BASIC.

  • 1985 Designed and built a transient recorder, 4K ROM, 32K RAM 50KHz sample rate. Simulated pre-trigger, programmed in assembler. Interfaced to I.B.M. PC, the PC was programmed in Pascal. Designed and built Avi-phone prototypes one and two. The latter using a 6511Q micro-processor to implement digital delay lines.

  • 1986 Built a NEC 7220 based graphics display controller which was used to write a P.C.B. CAD system for the apple 2 (written in Pascal). Built stepper motor controller. Hoop position monitor. Digital sound generator for generating stereo with good phase characteristics

  • 1987 Ported CAD to IBM. Built 6511Q based Forth system use for all future 6511Q based projects. Designed and built digital signal averager which uses C.R.O. in X-Y mode to display menus, text and graphics. Sample rates to 100KHz. This averager featured a nice user interface. The averager was programmed in Forth and included major portions of Forth assembler.

  • 1988 Built an acoustic masking analyser for psyco-physical hearing measurement. I designed and built both electronics hardware for visually displaying reaction times for vision touch and hearing. This was used for our display for Univations at EXPO-88. I also made a system for measuring micro-electrode impedance.

  • 1989 Moved to new premises as the Vision, Touch and Hearing centre was set up. Designed a digital servo system using optical shaft encoders and a software implementation of the servo loops. Shaft encoder output can be up to 25KHz will servo routine running at 1KHz. The above system was used to build a controller for the hoop in the anechoic room and also to control a vestibular platform. I wrote a simulator and Forth compiler for the RTX-2000 Forth engine.

  • 1989 Wrote a cross-assembler , forth cross-compiler and native forth compiler for the transputer.

  • 1990 Photo-Refractor controller,

  • Servo systems for a tunnel to test how bats judge when to fold their wings to fly through an opening. This was done by flying them through a 6 metre tunnel which was fitted with infrared trip beams every 10 cm ( 56 beams plus some tunnel without i.r.) to sense position and speed of the bat. A transputer based card running my own forth compiler was used to calculate the desired window position every millisecond based on the bat's position and speed in order to give the illusion that the end of the tunnel was closer than it really was. The position commands were sent via the transputers 10 megabit/sec serial link to a servo system similar to the one in the anechoic chamber.

    I'm the one sitting down. Trish is the bat tosser and Ian is holding a microphone. Photo by Jack Pettigrew.

    There is a paper on this --
    Lee, D.N., van  der Weel, F.R., Hitchcock, P., Matejowsky, E. and Pettigrew, J.D.(1993)  Common principles of guidance by echolocation and vision. J. Comp. Physiol. A 171:563-572

  • 1991 I'm currently working on two main projects one using the transputer to generate complex waveforms to play digital sound at 250 khz sample rate. This is the first project that used GALS. The other involves testing platypus electro-reception by digitizing the electrical signatures of it's prey and replaying them through one of sixteen pairs of electrodes (in water) at difference voltage levels (volts to microvolts). I've also put object oriented extensions and floating point support into my transputer forth compiler and worked out a network protocol for hooking transputers to pc's. Designed and built an audio variometer. This is a device used by glider pilots to measure rates of climb and decent by differentiating air pressure using a solid-state pressure transducer. It can detect altitude changes of 10 cm/sec or so and produces visible and auditory feedback to the pilot (me).

  • 1992 I'm working on a new variometer which is based on a 68hc11 single chip micro-controller. This vario has airspeed sensing as well as altitude sensing. The 68hc11 does the altitude differentiation, digital filtering, speed compensation, keyboard scanning, display driving and hopefully can do speed to fly calculations.

Some how the Amiga didn't get a mention. The Amiga should have been a force to be reckoned with but somehow the market forces choose inferior machines to become the standard - I'd say the same about operating systems. One of the nice things about the amiga was a program called sculpt-3d - simple 3d modeling package I had a lot of fun with it. The transputer was another good idea that fizzled. The transputer had on board hardware to making linking it into large arrays easy but I think the high price prevented it being widely used and supported. I teamed up with Dave Keenan to make a transputer system. He did the PCB design an I wrote a version of forth for it.

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