Robert Lamkin founded Trailblazer Design in 2001 to develop electronic products for customers, to enhance existing products and to troubleshoot product design problems.

Robert W. Lamkin






This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


Primary Strengths and Experience

  • Expert at system level design and product definition.
  • Expert developer of electronic products that include hardware, firmware and software.

  • More than 25 years experience with Digital and Analog Circuit design, Schematic capture, PC board development, Embedded processors, Firmware, and Software.

  • Especially adept at pinpointing and fixing hardware and firmware design problems.

Summary of Technical Expertise


  • Schematic Capture

  • Microcontrollers – ST, PIC

  • USB

  • Ethernet

  • Bluetooth

  • Digital Design

  • Video Systems

  • PSpice, HSIM

  • Industrial Controls, PLCs


  • C

  • C#

  • Python

  • JavaScript

  • Objective C

  • GUI design

  • Microsoft Developer Studio

  • Visual C++, Visual Basic


  • IAR Embedded Workbench for ARM

  • Debuggers

  • All Electronic Bench Tools – Oscilloscope, Logic Analyzer, DVM, TDR, Z analyzer, ICE, GPIB/IEEE488 and many more.



Principal, Trailblazer Design, LLC, San Jose CA 2014 – 2015 Projects

Android Smartphone Accessory System – Hardware/Firmware Developer

  • Version 1 - Performed requirement analysis and wrote specifications from broad customer requirements for a patented “blade-based” smart phone accessory system initially targeting Android phones. Presented alternative USB 2.0 system design topologies and block diagrams. Explained the pros and cons of each, in aiding selection of final approach. Selected components and did the schematic design for the first version of the system including USB hubs, Realtek USB to micro-SD bridges, and micro-SD memory. Checked the layouts of the base module, memory module and interconnecting flex circuit. Worked with the layout vendors, and PCB assembly houses to correct problems and build the first prototype boards. Tested and brought up each of these boards on the bench.

  • Version 2 – Added additional requirements to charge using USB 2.0, USB On-the-go (OTG), and USB BC 1.2. Added a microcontroller to manage the complex charging requirements. Wrote firmware to use virtual COM port interface with smart phone software. Again, worked with the layout vendors, and PCB assembly houses to correct problems. Tested and brought up the revised boards on the bench.

Ethernet Switch System with POE – Hardware Developer

  • Performed system design, block diagrams, component selection, schematic design and layout checking of several PC boards in this system. The most complex was a 24-port switch with 10/100/1Gbps ports and Power over Ethernet (37.5W). Also drew the schematics for two associated backplanes and an adapter PC board. Used the Vitesse VSC7422 switch, and VSC8522 copper PHY for the 24-port switch board. Used the Linear Technologies 4270/4271 chipset for POE+ (25.5 Watts). The Vitesse VSC7422 uses a QSGMII interface for the management port. Arranged for design reviews from Vitesse and Linear Technologies application engineers and incorporated their suggestions.

Fingerprint Sensor Power Subsystem – Hardware/Firmware Developer 2013 Projects

  • Designed Li-poly battery system and several approaches to current sharing for a fingerprint sensor board.

  • Checked layout.

  • Troubleshot and brought up first PC board hardware and firmware.

Data Center Asset Tracker – Hardware/Firmware Developer

  • System and schematic design of RS-485 network based system. Drew system block diagram. The system uses multiple PC boards, each with an ARM Cortex processor to track data center assets and report information about them to a central computer using USB, and USART interfaces.

  • Conceived, designed, prototyped and brought up a custom Photo detector circuit to monitor coded signals sent via flashing LEDs on power strips. Wrote circuit operation description for user manual. Troubleshot problems after part substitution during manufacturing.

  • Initial bring-up of first PC board hardware and firmware.

Portable Phone Dock Audio Player Review – Expert Hardware Review

  • Reviewed MAX9879 Stereo Class D Audio circuitry of this Microchip PIC24 based audio player.

Bluetooth to GPS Serial Port Adapter – Hardware Developer

  • Schematic design of a Bluetooth to a GPS UART adapter board with Li polymer rechargeable battery and Microchip charge manager.

  • Interfaces were USB, Apple Co-processor, JTAG and WT12 Bluetooth module using the Standard UART protocol.

USB to 4-Serial Ports Adapter – Firmware Developer

  • Wrote real-time firmware in C for the ARM Cortex M3 processor using the IAR Embedded Workbench for ARM (compiler, linker, debugger). The project involved agile software and firmware development of USB 2.0 and USART interfaces to the ARM processor. It is a real-time system relying on software speed to keep up with 4 960kbps USART ports.

Electromagnetic Site Survey – Electromagnetic Environment Expert 2011 - 2012 Projects

  • Performed a site survey of sources of electromagnetic interference disrupting a precision tool at Intel Corporation. Surveyed for magnetic field, RF and microwave interference using appropriate measuring instruments.

  • Wrote a report summarizing results and making facility recommendations.

Power Quality Monitoring – Power Quality Expert

  • Xandex Petaluma, CA. Removed 480 VAC mains power quality monitors from old facility prior to customer moving.

  • Mills Peninsula Hospital. Installed power quality monitors on site.

Electromagnetic Field – Electromagnetic Environment Expert

  • Pre-installation site survey for a mass spectrometer at Scripps Institute of Oceanography.

    • Installed power quality monitors on site.

    • Performed a magnetic field survey.

    • Wrote a consulting report with recommendation to relocate a power transformer.

Battery Backed-up Portable Power Monitors – Hardware Developer, Power Quality Expert

  • Defined the requirements, designed, prototyped and tested approaches to battery backup for long-term power mains current monitoring including during power outages.

  • Custom switched-mode charger for LiIon, LiFePO4 or NiCad cells, filter selection for sensitive current probes.


  • Defined the requirements, designed, built and tested two power monitors including PQube power monitors with Ethernet connectivity and SLA battery backup. Packaged all in rugged Pelican cases.

  • Installed the power quality monitors at two data centers. One during testing of power backup diesel generators, one during normal operation.

Mobile Fleet Electrical System Troubleshooting – Power Quality Expert

  • Found the reasons for premature depletion of an auxiliary electrical system in client’s mobile fleet vehicles. This system was used to power installed centrifuges and refrigerators and allow collecting biological samples at managed care facilities. The solution turned out to be simply larger capacity batteries.

Implantable Headache Relief System Troubleshooting – Mixed Signal Electronic Expert

  • Determined, on an emergency basis, the reasons that the hand-held transceiver for the company’s miniaturized implantable headache-relief implant did not work for patients with larger skull sizes. Analyzed the reasons for increased error rates with distance. Built a prototype system that performed well.

  • The work involved system performance analysis, circuit design, P-spice circuit modeling, prototype circuit construction, and PCB layout of a filter designed to look at the device’s response signal in the presence of a much larger power transmission signal. Then decoding the BPSK signal to determine the source of communication errors. Developed a receiver coil configuration to largely cancel the transmit signal.

Apple Worldwide Developer Conference (WWDC10) 2010 Projects

  • Developed skills in Xcode and Objective-C for iPad and iPhone development.

Automated Ultrasonic Cleaning Machine Refurbishment – Hardware/Firmware Expert

  • Troubleshot and repaired a Chao Tung Ultrasonic Enterprise Robotic Ultrasonic Cleaning Machine.

  • Repaired major manual PLC modes including mechanical movement, pump motors, and heating controllers.

  • Downloaded and deciphered the PLC ladder code using Omron CX-One and used it systematically to troubleshoot problems with the machine.

  • Additional work to include replacing missing chain link counter and reprogramming the CPM-1A PLC controller.

Intra-cardiac Medical Video Imaging System – Video Expert 2009

Performed electro-optical troubleshooting of video image quality issues for medical imaging technology that will address the common need to see what you are doing in percutaneous intra-cardiac procedures.

  • Source the problems being unclear initially, methodically broke the imaging system into pieces: illumination source, illumination optics, sensor optics, image sensor, and electronics.

  • Quickly discovered the problems to be in the image sensor and illumination source.

  • Found off-the-shelf imaging systems that met the companies’ requirements.

Laser Ranging and Tracking System, EOO, Inc. – Software/Firmware Consultant 2001 – 2007

  • Completed the electronic and software development and optical alignment of a laser ranging and tracking system through customer acceptance (U.S. Army).

  • As System Consultant, wrote algorithms for range, azimuth and elevation calculations in Matlab, and translated those to the DSP software written in C/C++.

  • Wrote a significant part of the FPGA code for transmitting data packets, system test and integration, optical alignment, project tracking and coordination.

  • Performed field follow-up and site testing with the customer. The system included:

      • custom telescope and optics,

      • purchased off-the-shelf laser,

      • TEIPD photo-detector,

      • 75 Msps flash 12-bit A/D conversion (AD9432),

      • digital signal processing using Altera Flex 10K EPLDs,

      • ADSP-21060 SHARC processors,

      • FPGA control of stepper motor attenuators for laser beam and receiver attenuation control,

      • host PC and purchased off-the-shelf peripheral devices.

  • Wrote a stand-alone C# Windows program to calculate, based on meteorological data, distance and angle corrections for measurements made with this system.

High Voltage and Current Pulse Tester – Hardware Developer 2005

Paracor, a medical device company focused on providing unique, technology-driven solutions for the treatment of heart failure including the HeartNet™ System with Integrated Defibrillation Electrodes, for the prevention of sudden cardiac arrest when used with an implantable cardioverter-defibrillator (ICD).

  • Accepted responsibility for the substantial redesign, construction and testing a 1500 volt, 100 ampere pulser used to test and qualify implantable electrode connectors in accordance with ISO 11318.

  • Design used capacitor bank storage switched by IGBTs to apply the high voltage or current pulse to cardiac electrode connectors.

Consumer Hose Reel – Hardware Developer 2004

  • Selected and integrated a wireless remote control chipset for this consumer product.

Portable Ultrasound System Analog Front End – Hardware Developer 2003

  • Performed design qualification testing of an Analog Front End board for a battery-powered ultrasound system. Troubleshot sensitive custom front-end analog electronics.

  • Recommended and tested design modifications to allow the board to meet design specifications and eliminate image artifacts. Set up test equipment suite using Lab View.

LED Low-Heat Light Source – Hardware Developer 2002

  • Designed an LED light source to illuminate semiconductor wafers during manufacturing without heating them. Investigated LED technology, selected components and constructed the first unit.

  • Troubleshot manufacturing defects in the first prototype unit.

Symphonix Devices, Inc., San Jose CA 1998 – 2001

Principal Engineer, Electrical Design Manager

Symphonix developed the world's first, FDA-approved, middle-ear implant for those with moderate to severe sensorineural hearing loss.

  • Provided electrical design group technical leadership, modeling expert for the group. Developed several Audio Processors. Projects included integrating analog and digital signal processors in the product line.

  • Complied with ISO 9001 quality system for a class III active implantable medical device.

  • Instituted the use of worst-case and statistical modeling to set manufacturing test limits.

  • Modeled a custom CMOS integrated circuit for a hearing implant using PSpice and Nassda HSIM.

  • Investigated and selected high-speed mixed signal modeling software, including:

    • Cadence Sceptre,

    • HSIM,

    • PowerMill and others.

Cardima, Inc. Fremont CA 1994 – 1998

Program Manager

Worked with physicians to develop a catheter-based RF (radiofrequency) ablation system for a minimally invasive cure for atrial fibrillation, the most common cardiac arrhythmia.

  • Developed a controller that regulated RF energy delivery to several catheter electrodes simultaneously, to maintain a desired ablation temperature and avoid destructive tissue overheating.

  • System used custom analog hardware to regulate temperature, and used LabVIEW software.

  • Worked with physicians to test this system in animal models and in early human (IDE) studies.

  • Prototyped a computerized imaging display station used to locate and display electrophysiology recording catheters in the heart and to display a superimposed map of the heart’s electrical activation during arrhythmias. Utilized C, C++, Microsoft Developer Studio, Windows 3.1/95/NT.

Cardiovascular Imaging Systems, Inc. Sunnyvale CA 1991 - 1994

Sr. Engineering Project Manager

CVIS invented intravascular ultrasound, brought it to medicine and had a highly successful IPO.

ADAC Laboratories Inc. Sunnyvale & Milpitas CA 1982 - 1991

Software Engineer promoted through various positions to Project Manager

Many projects, the largest of which, the Genesys Gamma Camera, doubled the company's sales in the first year of production. Coordinated and managed the activities of over 30 technical personnel on that project.

Convair Division of General Dynamics, San Diego CA 1969-1973

Electronics Engineer supporting space launches using the Atlas-Centaur. Responsible for the flight timer, parts of the guidance system and their computerized ground test equipment.


University of California, Berkeley Graduate School 1973-82

  • Pursued Ph.D. in Bioengineering, successfully completing all coursework including 108 graded units in computer architecture, logic design, microprocessor interfacing, bioengineering, cardiology, neuroscience, electrophysiology, mathematical modeling, math, chemistry, and genetics. GPA 3.8/4.0. An additional 172 units of research work on a pass/fail basis.

  • Awarded an NIH training grant fellowship.

  • Performed research in three main areas:

    • The electrophysiology of the retina. Developed an infrared microscopy system to observe turtle retinal cells while recording intracellularly from them. Visible lights could be flashed to elicit the cells electrical photo-response. Published in the Journal of Neurophysiology by my research professor.

    • Changes in the evoked potential response of the superior colliculus with training aimed at understanding the neural basis of learning. Performed more than 50 animal brain surgeries, implanted electrodes using stereotaxic apparatus including both acute and chronic electrode placement surgeries.

    • Measurement and mathematical modeling of human eye movements.

BSEECS, University of California, Berkeley 1964-1969

Engineering curriculum with an upper division specialization area in solid-state integrated circuit design and semiconductor device physics.

Professional Development Training

Project Management Tools and Techniques, Project Management Seminar, The Mentor Group

Hot Chips Symposium on High Performance Chips

Motivating and Managing Technical Professionals, Santa Clara University

Fundamental Design Techniques for Stratix Devices, Altera, 2002

LabVIEW seminars

Introduction to Acoustics, University of California Extension, 1999

Gate Array Design Course, LSI Logic

Professional Development Seminar on Software Engineering Methods, Digital Equipment Corporation

Reducing Time-To-Market, AEA Seminar

Professional Organization

Life Member, Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE)

Page 1 of 6