PTCL Electronics

Department of Chemistry University of Oxford

When your experiment requires a new addition, we are ready to help.

We are able to offer advice as too where to obtain equipment from, such as whether it would in fact be more beneficial to build the unit in house, or to buy from an external supplier. We can sometimes get a discount from suppliers so it can be worthwhile speaking to us before purchasing any equipment.

Things to consider for when you approach us,

  • What size are you wanting? (we do not work in cm, they are not an official engineering term. We prefer mm or m (or thou/inch/feet for John)).
  • How much will it weigh? Some groups take their units overseas, so baggage weight can be an issue.
  • Do you have a price limitation?
  • How soon do you wish to have the unit?
    • days?
    • weeks?
    • months?
    • other time period?
    • Before a prescribed date?
  • How will you interface with the unit?
    • USB, other computer interface (e.g. a national instruments card) or another unit,
    • dials,
    • mixture of both,
    • no control whatsoever,
    • display,
      • analogue,
      • digital.
  • Can you see yourselves requiring more in the future? If so, how many? There are price breaks for some products at 5, 10 or 20 units, so it may be beneficial to get excess if there is the chance that you wish for a few units.
  • Can you see yourself requiring more features in the future? Some circuits or setups are easier to add to when designed as opposed to being added to, such as drilling more holes in a panel for BNC sockets and using a blind grommet (piece of plastic that covers a hole) to stop stray fingers from entering the unit.

We have a stock (see loan items) of the more regular commercial items people wish for, so an option is for you to borrow one of those units for a period of time to determine whether or not it is the item you are after, or if you would want a particular additional option.  In addition some of the supplier we deal have demonstration equipment that you can borrow to see if the equipment will meet your requirements. They can be used if you only require the unit for a short length of time (hours to a couple of weeks).

Have a look at our construction section if you need suggestions as to what we can produce or for ideas for future projects.

If your normal ordering people are away Kevin can order items through our normal suppliers and generally get them delivered within 48hrs of the order leaving the department.

The other information that is needed if you place an order with us, or request an external order, is the grant/cost centre code and your supervisors approval. If you are unsure what a grant code is or which one to use, then Kevin can sometimes find this out, or you can speak to your supervisor/someone in a leading role in your group for this information. For most projects that we work on, particularly the larger ones, we require the green light from the supervisor that controls the grant. If this is the case, then don't feel taken aback about this. It is always a good idea to let them know before we contact them so that the communication is not out of the blue. You can ask Kevin to delay for a few days so that you can speak to the supervisor in question.

Some things such as power supplies, we do keep a limited stock of. This includes a few 1.5A and 2.25A switching power supplies with 3, 4.5, 5, 6, 7.5,9 and 12 volt settings. Those have a number of output connectors due to the lack of standardisation, and because the polarity can be switched we typically put some heat-shrink over the connector to stop it being turned round and the unit blowing up. Along with those standard units, we also have several boxes of random supplies. They are generally thrown out, or brought down during a clear-out and John seems to think we will use all of them. If they are suitably rated, then we can change the plug on the supply over (if needed) and hand it over to be tested fully with the unit.

 There are a number of other things such as the multi-output power supplies that we may have premade up. We also proses a quantity of connectors, components and adaptors should they be needed.