Mason has been at Little River since 2017. He’s superb at what he does, and he’s wonderful to work with. Recently he helped everyone be able to work from home remotely. Thanks, Mason, for everything you do, including helping keep us safe in this time of the novel coronavirus COVID-19. I’m loving our new use of Discord for video, voice, and text chat.
Mason on Discord chat while we work from home.
Editor’s note: The remaining portion of this post was written by Mason.
I’m Mason Parrone’. I recently graduated from SIUC with a BS in Industrial Technology and Applied Engineering. I specialized in manufacturing technology and minored in economics, and I’ve got experience with electronics/robotics. I really get to apply what I learned at university every day on the job here at Little River Research & Design. Primarily I assemble all the electronics that go into our stream tables, hydraulic flumes, instruments, and flow controllers. I’m always looking for ways to improve quality and lower product costs. Some of my hobbies include hacking electronics, woodworking, PC building/gaming, and Rubik’s cubing.
Me at Little River wearing a bandolier of piezo speakers that were used in the now-retired Alix controller.
One of the electronics projects I led was the development of the K500 closed-loop flow controller. It’s an excellent device for our stream tables because the paddlewheel sensor measures the flow rate in real-time and adjusts the pump speed to maintain the desired flow rate. This is great for changes in head due to increasing or decreasing tilt on our tilting-base Em3 and Em4 stream tables, or, to account for changing water levels in the reservoir. It can even detect blocked filters or low water levels to keep the pump from running dry.
K500 controller being built.
I also apply my 3D printing expertise to model new parts that would be otherwise challenging to machine. For example, I recently helped us switch from an aluminum Emflume1 propeller to a 3D printed glass-reinforced nylon one. I’ve also used our 3D printer to design custom flume inserts which get a foam attached to the side after printing for a snug fit.
Two 3D Printed inserts for our flume—R&D, not production.
We make a lot of parts in-house here on our CNC mill and CNC router. Given the opportunity, I rework old CAM files to make fabrication of parts simplified, less prone to mistakes, faster, and with less waste. I also do a lot of prototyping of new instruments or improvements over old ones. I write all of the software for these instruments as well. Lastly, I keep our systems up and running by handling a variety of IT and desktop support needs.