New Electronics Shop offers array of services

Need disaster recovery for critical data lost after a computer crash? Or maybe your next research project requires state-of-the-art sensors or laser devices or custom-designed computer-controlled motion?

Enter the Electronics Shop.

It offers a one-stop shop for all of the University’s electronic needs.

Senior design engineer Arnold Heidbreder (left) and research associate Gavin Perry, Ph.D., work in the Electronics Shop.
Senior design engineer Arnold Heidbreder (left) and research associate Gavin Perry, Ph.D., work in the Electronics Shop.

This comprehensive electronics repair shop and instrument fabrication facility provides an extensive range of services for new project design and novel development work, as well as repairs of existing electronic devices and instruments.

The shop serves the Hilltop and Medical campuses, University-affiliated institutions and off-campus customers.

Research associate Gavin Perry, Ph.D., who has a degree in neural sciences from the University, and senior design engineer Arnold Heidbreder run the Electronics Shop. Perry and Heidbreder each have more than 30 years of electrical engineering and design experience.

Before the shop opened, Perry designed electronic and real-time computer-controlled projects for various Hilltop and School of Medicine labs, while Heidbreder worked as an electrical engineer, programmer and system manager for Central Institute for the Deaf (CID).

Perry and Heidbreder combine both electrical engineering and scientific experience.

“In this shop, scientists can work with people who understand the science behind a project and can focus on the technical aspects of implementing a cost-effective solution,” Perry said. “Scientists know how they want an experiment to run, and we can specify, create or redesign the hardware and software to meet their specific requests.”

Over the past decade, exploding technology has created a need for an integrated software, electronics and machine shop at the University.

Last year, the closing of the last departmental electronics shops in cell biology and the merging of CID with the School of Medicine created a need for an electronics shop.

The new Electronics Shop is a component of the Instrument/Machine Shop, which offers services such as the design and manufacture of custom components and systems.

The Instrument/Machine Shop is equipped with computer-controlled milling machines, precision lathes and many other specialized tools for fabricating plastic, metal and composite parts.

Because these shops are now together in one administrative entity, they can provide integrated solutions for complex electronically controlled mechanical systems. A single bill from the instrument shop simplifies bookkeeping for investigators and their administrators.

Although the Electronics Shop opened last fall, Perry and Heidbreder report that many University scientists are not aware of the services it offers and still go outside the University for their electronics services.

“One of the biggest advantages of opening the Electronics Shop at the University is that we often can provide the same services as outside companies, but at much more affordable rates, which allows scientists to dedicate more of their funds to research,” Heidbreder said.

The engineering team can work from a customer’s verbal description of the desired electronic or electromechanical system, create schematic diagrams and circuit boards from rough sketches and other designs, or help interpret and compare manufacturer’s specifications to integrate a cost-effective off-the-shelf solution.

Customers may bring projects to the shop for design and implementation consultations, or a staff engineer can come to their labs to facilitate integration of a device into a complex system.

Thanks to economical and rapid advances in the electronics industry, the best solution often involves a combination of purchased and modified or custom-built instruments integrated into a complete solution.

Modern instruments often contain microcomputers and require programming.

Perry and Heidbreder have extensive experience in an array of programming languages.

Some of the team’s recent projects include Internet-based embedded systems for controlling or monitoring experiments; specialized sensors for acquiring biological or environmental data; and motor or solenoid actuators to automate laboratory procedures.

For CID researchers, Heidbreder recently created a computer program that records the sound waves of patients with cochlear implants while they speak.

The Electronics Shop is located in Room 148 of the Shriner’s Building, 4553 Clayton Ave. on the Medical Campus.

For more information, go online to or call Heidbreder at 362-2294 or Perry at 362-2595.

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