Lab-Tools - Bespoke

Scientific Instrumentation and Software -
Bespoke Design for Industry and Academia

Here at we can design you high quality scientific and industrial instrumentation and software. Previous designs have all been tested in the demanding environments of active on-going research programs at universities around the globe.

International sales of complete instrument packages have been made to the UK, France, Italy, Canada, Australia, the USA, and Japan. We are particularly knowledgeable about Nuclear Magnetic Resonamce (NMR) and Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) instrumentation, but have also implemented instrumentation and software for a range of other disciplines including Ultrasonics, Fibre-Optics and SANS.

Designs are usually USB interfaced, and frequently incorporate field programmable gate array (FPGA) units to ensure high speed handling, in parallel, of the peripherals. Instrumentation can incorporate web-control and or web-monitoring interfaces, using a techique compatible with most fire-walls.

We have a wide range of existing designs that can be adapted, or we can design new instrumentation for you, so please do discuss with us designs that you may interested in commissioning.

Please E-mail us at

Example multi-module USB interfaced R.F. instrument for Nuclear Magnetic Resonance (NMR) research :

Novel NMR 1D-Imager

The R.F. processing is implemented in VLSI devices, the I.F. processing in a Field Programmable Gate Array (FPGA) device, and the A.F. processing in the PC using an Array Programing language.
Note: The RF modules are Export Controlled devices.

Available Designs :

Designs that can be incorporated or adapted include a range of high performance USB interfaced signal generation / digital scope / transient recording/averaging modules, with optional RF and low-noise pre-amp stages :

USB Direct Digital Synthesizer : frequency agile / sweeping: 0.001 to 150MHz, 14 bit

USB Averaging Analogue Data-Capture for Digital Scope / Transient Recorder/Averager uses : 0 to 65MS.s-1, 12 bit.

USB R.F. Digital-Receiver, with direct digital sampling of the RF, quadrature 32 bit digitally controlled oscillators, three stages of FIR filtering, digital output gain scaling, followed by optional signal processing and Transient Recorder/Averager stage: 0.1 to 32MHz (below Nyquist), 12 bit.

Optional additional front-end pre-amp module : very low noise : sub-nanovolt.Hz1/2, 120MHz bandwidth.

Optional data processing algorithms in firm-ware uploaded to a 100k gate FPGA over the USB interface.

Optional data processing algorithms in high-level array-manipulating languages.

If you have specific requirements that can be best encompassed at the design stage, please contact us regarding them :


Hardware Design:

Logic : now mainly using programmable devices.
Analogue : Ultra precision + low noise.
RF : particularly using digital techniques (to 1GHz).
Power : to 10KV, 1KA.
Pressure : 10$^{-6}$ mBar to 4 kBar.
Temperature : 4K to 1500K.

Software Design:

I use 8 software/firmware languages regularly, others as the need arises:
Maple, Apl, LabVIEW, C, VHDL, Tcl/Tk, Sed (really!), Csh;
sometimes Fortran, Basic, Pascal, Occam, Assembler,
M4, Yacc/Bison, Lex/Flex, Pearl, Java, JavaScript.
Which I use depends on the problem.
It is now possible to produce code which runs on multiple platforms.



Design and Implementation Methodology

The publication of an article in Vector gives some idea of the methodologies that we apply to the development of advanced instrumentation :
APLX version 4 - from the viewpoint of an experimental physicist.
Dr Beau Webber, Lab-Tools Ltd. Vector, v23:3.

A few examples of the software.

Recent Item:

Net-Control :

Home Automation : Turn-up your central heating from the office.
Industrial Control : Monitor the plant while on tbe road.
Researchers : Control your experiment from home.

Simple control and monitoring from over the web, without having to cut holes in firewalls or run home web-servers.

Build-a-Page :

This program, which has a graphical user interface, is a tool for PCs that is designed to automate the construction of web pages with many graphical images. Copies of the images are rescaled for the web, an html web-page is created from minimal supplied and stored information. They are then uploaded to the web server. All in a few clicks.
Can be customised using stored configuration data and by editing templates.

This is the first of a series of tools based on well-tested software widgets created for the Kentish music web-page

Pine2CE v1.1 :

This program, which has a simple graphical user interface, is a tool for PCs that converts address books in the mail reading system :
Pine (University of Washington) to that of Microsoft Outlook 2003 and Sun Communications Express.
Version 1.1 now also generates an .ldif address book, suitable for import into a range of email programs.

Earlier Designs, some available for free download

Software Taster.

To celebrate the success of the Nasa Rover "Spirit" in bringing back colour stereo pictures of crater Gusev on Mars, the following Stereo Panoramic Viewer was written over the next few days.

This enables viewers to stereoscopically pan around and zoom into the pictures of Mars, without needing special viewing hardware. This works for both monochrome and colour stereo panoramas.

Learn more : StereoPanorama
a viewer and manipulator for Panoramic Stereo images.

Written using MicroApl's AplX array language interpreter, this compact application (125 kBytes) makes good use of the array manipulation capabilities of Apl, MicroApl's implementation aiding the graphic import/display/export.

A view into part of the first B+W stereo pair of panoramic images from "Spirit"'s navigational cameras. The high-resolution cameras return panoramic stereo images in colour.

Algorithms :

I will place a list here soon, but here is one algorithm that I believe is not available elsewhere :

Monotonic filter

Do you have a signal that should (in a certain range) always be increasing (i.e. a tank filling) or decreasing (i.e. an object cooling) but for which the measured signal has fluctuations? Monotonic will do a good job of extracting the underlying trend, removing much of the noise, without having a characteristic 'width' like conventional averaging/bandwidth filtering algorithms. It's main disadvantage is that it is an N2 algorithm, but with current processor speeds that is usually of no consequence.
Monotonic details

Windows Tools :

Transient Processor v2.1

For capturing, displaying and manipulating transient laboratory data, this PC based instrument offers many advantages, while handling like a traditional oscilloscope. It is based on a standard Pentium PC, uses National Instruments cards and is programmed in LabView.
Transient Processor v2.1 details

Convert Thermocouple EMF to Temperature

An easy to use Windows tool to convert signals from a thermocouple to temperature. So far only for Copper-Constantan (Type T) thermocouples. Based on NIST calibration ITS90. It is programmed and compiled using LabView.

This is freely downloadable, but if you use it for work or to make money, donations would be appreciated - then I might add some of the other thermocouple types and place more freely downloadable offerings on this web page.

emf2temp details

Unix Tools :

Convert Thermocouple EMF to Temperature

A unix program/filter to convert signals from a thermocouple to temperature. So far only for Copper-Constantan (Type T) thermocouples. Based on NIST calibration ITS90. It is programmed in Apl, translated to C and compiled :

This is freely downloadable, but if you use it for work or to make money, donations would be appreciated - then I might add some of the other thermocouple types and place more freely downloadable offerings on this web page.

DoD22 : Show and Analyse Area Multidetector Data for ILL D22

Highly specialised, this program is placed here for the benefit of users of Small Angle Neutron Scattering Diffractometers at the Institute Max von Laue - Paul Langevin in Grenoble, France.

DoD22 obtains the configuration information it needs from the stored parameter tables associated with each set of area detector data. Thus it can convert lists and ranges of measurement runs to I(q) with no further user intervention needed.

It has three modes : Show, Programmable, Analyse.

show_001006.jpg dod22 details

Please contact us if you would like a copy of an existing design, or would like to commission the design and construction of a new piece of laboratory apparatus or software.
E-mail us,

2000 ... 2011