School of Engineering

Staff Profile

Richie Burnett

Electronics Support Engineer

Background

Background 

Richie Burnett received an M.Eng degree in electrical and electronic engineering with First Class Honours from Newcastle University in 1996.  He re-joined Newcastle University on contract in 2006 to lead the development of Digital Signal Processing electronics to support a multi-disciplinary MEMS bio-sensor project for the clinical diagnostic market.  He currently manages the electronics support facility in the Mechanical Engineering department and provides electronics support and design expertise to staff and students to facilitate teaching and research activities across the broader school of engineering.


Industrial Experience 

Prior to joining the university he gathered 11 years industrial experience employed as Electronics Design Engineer in various UK manufacturing companies.  During this time he designed products as diverse as: 

  • Laser-based smoke detection systems for the fire protection industry,
  • Infra-red paint curing equipment for the automotive manufacturing and refinish industries,
  • Ultrasonic distance measurement equipment for harsh environments,
  • DSP sound synthesis technology for the pro-audio market,
  • RF induction heating equipment,
  • Instrumentation for EMC compliance testing,
  • High-power RF amplifier design and characterisation,
  • Various high-power / high-voltage switched-mode power supplies,

Several of these products have gone on to sell worldwide in volumes of tens of thousands.

 

Consultancy 

Richie Burnett has provided electronics design consultancy to north-east manufacturing companies in the areas of analogue and digital circuit design, microprocessor systems, DSP & embedded programming, RF design, EMC compliance, and design practices for volume manufacture.

 

Skills set

His key skills areas are listed below: 

  • Analogue and digital hardware design,
  • Embedded control software programming, (PIC, dsPIC, SHARC)
  • Digital Signal Processing (DSP),
  • Radio Frequency (RF) design and construction best practices,
  • Instrumentation and measurement systems,
  • PCB design, (multi-layer, surface-mount, mixed signal, etc.)
  • Circuit simulation, (Microsim, NI Multisim.)
  • Power electronics design and testing,
  • Electronic characterisation of MEMS and piezo-electric resonant devices.


Interests 

His main interest areas are in the application of modern electronics techniques to current technical challenges or system requirements.  In particular the application of modern DSP and control techniques to instrumentation and measurement applications, maximising system performance whilst simultaneously minimising hardware requirements, size, weight and overall cost.

Modern micro-controllers are becoming increasingly powerful and capable of taking on more tasks in new electronic designs.  The division between classic embedded control and DSP is becoming more blurred, with digital signal processing techniques becoming invasive in several traditional embedded control applications.  This trend ultimately reduces the hardware requirements, whilst at the same time maximising performance, flexibility and repeatability.  The reduced hardware also has the added benefit of keeping cost and shipping weight to a minimum, and improving overall product reliability.

Richie is also a keen supporter of Newcastle United Football Club and has an interest in electronic music production and pro-audio technology.

Research

Research interests

Electronic drive and sensing schemes for high-frequency resonant mechanical devices.  In particular the use of good RF design and screening practices to minimise feed-though common in high-frequency MEMS devices.  Also the use of innovative analogue and digital signal processing, drive and sensing schemes to maximise signal-to-noise ratio and yield the best overall performance possible.

Electronic characterisation of multi-MHz and GHz level resonant sensors and filters.

Techniques for wireless power and data transmission to/from rotating machinery or through an isolation barrier.

Techniques for multi-channel high-resolution high-bandwidth strain gauge instrumentation on rotating machinery.

Electronic controller for multi-spectral imaging light source.

The general application of embedded control and modern DSP techniques to measurement and control challenges.

Teaching

Labs 

Richie Burnett teaches the MEC3015 Filter Class in which students are introduced to passive and active analogue electronic filters, and learn how to characterise their behaviour.  They gain familiarity with 1st-order and 2nd-order low-pass and high-pass filters, and learn how to use signal generators and oscilloscopes to graph the filters' respective frequency responses.  Finally they compare the responses of the different filters and discuss their respective merits.

 

Lectures 

He lectures on the subject of MEMS electronics and the issues to be considered when trying to take a high-frequency MEMS sensor to the electronic product stage.  This is based on a case study of completed electronics for a MEMS based bio-sensor.  Issues covered include electronic drive and sensing of the device, and typical techniques used to overcome capacitive feed-through inherent to high-frequency MEMS devices.

 

Teaching 

Richie has 20 years industrial experience in embedded control programming and supports the teaching of embedded programming in the department via the PIC microcontroller platform.  He also assists in the familiarisation of students with several CAD packages used for electronic circuit design, circuit simulation, and PCB design tasks.

 

MSc project supervision 

Sole supervisor for two MSc Mechatronics student projects:

1. Recreation of a Baird Televisor using modern electronic techniques

2. A persistence-of-vision clock


PhD supervision

Co-supervisor for two PhD students:

1. Sinziana Mirela Popescu, "Rapid prototyping of a low-cost graphene-based impedimetric biosensor."

2. Hayder Ashelaish, "High frequency biosensing based on microstrip filters."

Publications