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Information Technology

Engineering


SCADA: Elcon, Onspec, Modicon [1985 - 1989]

- South Africa (Johannesburg)
  • Bateman Process Instrumentation

Industrial Automation [1982 - 1984]

- South Africa (Johannesburg)
  • Messina Electronics
  • Sugar Mills: Amatikulu, Darnell,
  • Breweries: Garankwa,
  • Soap: Uniliver
  • Messina Mines

Telecommunications Marketing [1981]

- South Africa (Johannesburg)
  • STC (Standard Telephones & Cables)

PACT, CDC, Cyber 17, 18 [1977 - 1980]

- Israel (Haifa)
  • Elbit Computers

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Messina Electronics - Johannesburg, South Africa
[1982 - 1984]



In early 1980s, Messina Electronics designed and manufactured a micro-computer, based on the eight bit Motorola 6800 micro-processor. This micro-chip operated at either 1MHz or 2 Mhz clock. The so called "Commander" micro-computer, was programmed with a Basic-like Process Control Language (PCL) that featured very specialised Real-Time functionality, targeted at software development for industrial applications. The peripherals included 10MB Pertec Cartridge Disk Drives, 8" flexible diskettes and a cassette tape. The "Commander" conquered the South African market, competing against the (later giant) AppleII and was installed in industrial "Turnkey Process Control" applications at Mines, Breweries, Sugar Mills, Soap manufacturing factories, Truck engines production and in office type applications, like Accounting and Inventory Control.

Messina Electronics also manufactured "water level detectors" for the South African military industry. The innovative design of these units involved the manufacture of a hybrid circuit and some high quality encapsulation technique, within military standard enclosures. The units were installed in army vehicles, but after some exhaustive tests and a short field run, a significant percentage of the units malfunctioned.

My investigations concluded that test carried out by the Quality Control department, was responsible for the hybrids "hardware weekness". The test-rig that was used, produced inversed voltage (inductive) spikes, as various loads were switched in and out for routine quality test measurements. These spikes caused just enough fatigue-type damage, clearly visible under the microscope, that weakened the units to the extent that shortly thereafter they would fail. I had suggested to connect a Germanium diode (with a low cutoff voltage, of under 0.3V) in parallel to the switch contacts. Our Production Manager Mr Hank Grootveld, the Engineering Manager Mr Norman Brown and our Managing Director Mr. Pat O'Sullivan were very happy indeed when the production line was reinstated.
1982 - 1984
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