Dorking & District Radio Society

One Route Through Product Design (Part 1) - 27th March

Bob Burns G3OOU

We all want our projects to be successful and to take the minimum time and costs to complete. Unfortunately, many projects either fail, never get completed or become too expensive or complex to be commercially viable because they were incorrectly specified in the first place. 'Scope creep' is another classic reason for project failure. In addition, product design, particularly in the RF field, is frequently regarded as difficult and the preserve of a highly qualified but limited group of specialists. This illustrated talk seeks to address those experiences and views by offering a relatively flexible design methodology. It is based on a 'Top Down' concept with a route map of the various stages and commences by reinforcing the need to separate the 'What will it do?' (the User Specification) from the 'How will it do it?' (the Technical Specification). These techniques are applicable to almost any form of mechanical, electronic or software project.

The talk will concentrate on the first design level 'What is it' and will also briefly consider the link from the 'What' stage to the start of the 'How' stage for an example receiver design and concludes with a brain storming session. Here the audience divides up into a number of teams who will each choose their own product and define a User Specification for that product.

No circuit or electronics design knowledge is required by participants at this stage but some knowledge of the use and functions of, for example the above receiver, is required. The results from the brainstorming sessions will be recorded by a member of each team for future use. Following on from the first talk, an optional second talk will look at the processes and techniques that may be used to generate a Technical Specification and a prototype design. Club members may decide to adopt one (or more) of the team products from the brainstorming sessions for a future club project.

Bob first became interested in RF electronics when he was about 12 years old and his cousin had brought round a crystal set that he could not get to work. From that point onwards he was hooked. After qualifying in 1962/3, he spent the next 22 years working in RF engineering on HF and VHF receiver and transmitter design including three years working for himself.

In 1984 Bob moved into systems engineering working on computerised fire detection equipment for oil rigs but left in 1988 to take up software engineering, specialising in database applications. Since retiring he has returned to RF hardware engineering for his own amateur radio station. Bob also mentors a number of enthusiasts over the Internet on RF topics and maintains a technical website