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Condition monitoring of points machine motors using a PIC microcontroller

Spiers, Cory (2013) Condition monitoring of points machine motors using a PIC microcontroller. Internship Report, Murdoch University.



The Public Transport Authority of WA is responsible for delivering public transport services to members of the public in Western Australia. The internship participated in, as part of requirements of ENG450 was carried out in the control, communications and signals branch of Network & Infrastructure within the engineering department. This branch is primarily concerned with railway engineering. An important element within the rail networks are points machines, since are responsible for allowing trains to change tracks.

Eliminating points machine failures would be an advantage to the PTA as this would minimise traffic delays on the system. The proposed way of helping to eliminate these failures is to introduce condition monitoring – a form of pre-emptive maintenance to the machines.

A device was researched and designed from scratch that will be used for condition monitoring of the points machines. The design included building an electronic circuit, programming a microcontroller, implementing an external memory chip, adding all required sensory equipment and power supplies as well as assembling it within an enclosure.

Thorough simulations and testing were performed and documented to ensure the prototype performed to a satisfactory level. The simulations and tests performed were all successful, except for the failure of the high voltage regulator. The mistake has been identified and learnt from, and a new contingency plan is in place to rectify the mistake.

The final project at the time of this report resulted in a device that could log a measured current at a very high sampling rate. The only reason this project hasn’t reached full completion, which is reading current from points machines, is the impending arrival of a DC-DC converter which is overdue.

Many vital skills had been gained during this internship placement such as research, design and development in electrical engineering, time management, communication and consultation with other stake holders and a better understanding of how the workplace and businesses operate on a day to day basis.

Item Type: Internship Report (Bachelor of Engineering)
Murdoch Affiliation(s): School of Engineering and Information Technology
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