Product development: Invention, design and fabrication of the mechanics, motion control, and safety system for a nuclear cancer treatment device. The treatment concept, initially conceived by an oncologist, was developed to a patentable prototype by Arthur Zatarain and Dave Spako. Although both of them contributed to the overall design, Arthur primarily worked on development of the industrial computer control system, motion control components, and user interface. Dave primarily worked on the wire-guide mechanics, enclosure design, and safety system. Both men are named inventors on the related patent.
The remote afterloader guided a thin nuclear-tipped wire through a catheter placed near the patient's target treatment area. Multiple catheters, connected to a rotating turret, allowed multiple treatment positions in a single session. The high power of the nuclear tipped wire required the afterloader to operate without anyone (other than the patient) in the lead-lined treatment room.
The motion control system used servo-controlled pinch rollers to deploy the wire within a few millimeters of the target position. The wire's nuclear tip could be continuously moved with millimeter precision to complete a treatment profile configured specifically for the tumor's size and shape.
System software operated under standard DOS modified for realtime, deterministic processing. The core programs and hardware abstraction layers were written in Pascal, supported by hardware drivers written in C, Assembly, and Pascal.
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