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Jason Sachs's Embedded Systems Blog

Jason Sachs
Jason has 17 years of experience in signal conditioning (both analog + digital) in motion control + medical applications. He likes making things spin.

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Second-Order Systems, Part I: Boing!!

I’ve already written about the unexciting (but useful) 1st-order system, and about slew-rate limiting. So now it’s time to cover second-order systems. The most common second-order systems...

posted by Jason Sachs on Oct 29 2014 under Control Systems | Applied Math | Signal Processing 
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The CRC Wild Goose Chase: PPP Does What?!?!?!

I got a bad feeling yesterday when I had to include reference information about a 16-bit CRC in a serial protocol document I was writing. And I knew it wasn’t going to end well. The last time I...

posted by Jason Sachs on Oct 23 2014 under Software Development | Communications | System Design 
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Important Programming Concepts (Even on Embedded Systems) Part III: Volatility

1vol·a·tile adjective \ˈvä-lə-təl, especially British -ˌtī(-ə)l\ : likely to change in a very sudden or extreme way : having or showing extreme or sudden changes of emotion ...

posted by Jason Sachs on Oct 10 2014 under Software Development | System Design 
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Slew Rate Limiters: Nonlinear and Proud of It!

I first learned about slew rate limits when I was in college. Usually the subject comes up when talking about the nonideal behavior of op-amps. In order for the op-amp output to swing up and down quic...

posted by Jason Sachs on Oct 6 2014 under Applied Math | Signal Processing | Microcontroller 
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You Will Make Mistakes

</scorpion>: FAIL Anyone out there see the TV pilot of Scorpion? Genius hacker squad meets Homeland Security in a fast-paced thriller to save hundreds of airplanes from crashing after LAX air t...

posted by Jason Sachs on Sep 28 2014 under Software Development | Project Management 
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Important Programming Concepts (Even on Embedded Systems) Part II: Immutability

The previous article in this series discussed idempotence. This article will discuss immutability, and some of its variations in the topic of functional programming. There are a whole series of benef...

posted by Jason Sachs on Sep 14 2014 under Software Development | System Design 
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Important Programming Concepts (Even on Embedded Systems) Part I: Idempotence

There are literally hundreds, if not thousands, of subtle concepts that contribute to high quality software design. Many of them are well-known, and can be found in books or the Internet. I’m go...

posted by Jason Sachs on Aug 26 2014 under Software Development | System Design 
Comments (4) |

Someday We’ll Find It, The Kelvin Connection

You’d think it wouldn’t be too hard to measure electrical resistance accurately. And it’s really not, at least according to wikiHow.com: you just follow these easy steps: Choose t...

posted by Jason Sachs on Jul 28 2014 under Circuit Design | Measurement 
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10 Items of Test Equipment You Should Know

When life gets rough and a circuit board is letting you down, it’s time to turn to test equipment. The obvious ones are multimeters and oscilloscopes and power supplies. But you know about those...

posted by Jason Sachs on Jun 22 2014 under Tools | Test Equipment 
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Musings on Publication — and Zero Sequence Modulation

Perhaps you don’t think about it, but in order for you to read these articles, someone has to do something. And I don’t just mean writing them. Stephane Boucher has set up this website so...

posted by Jason Sachs on May 30 2014 under Miscellaneous | Power Electronics 
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How to Include MathJax Equations in SVG With Less Than 100 Lines of JavaScript!

Today’s short and tangential note is an account of how I dug myself out of Documentation Despair. I’ve been working on some block diagrams. You know, this sort of thing, to describe feedba...

posted by Jason Sachs on May 23 2014 under Tools | Miscellaneous 
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First-Order Systems: The Happy Family

Все счастли́вые се́мьи похо́жи друг на дру́га, ка́ждая несчастли́вая семья́ несчастли́ва по-сво́ему. — Л...

posted by Jason Sachs on May 3 2014 under Control Systems | Signal Processing 
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Lost Secrets of the H-Bridge, Part IV: DC Link Decoupling and Why Electrolytic Capacitors Are Not Enough

Those of you who read my earlier articles about H-bridges, and followed them closely, have noticed there's some unfinished business. Well, here it is. Just so you know, I've been nervous about writing...

posted by Jason Sachs on Apr 29 2014 under Tutorials | Circuit Design | Power Electronics 
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April is Oscilloscope Month: In Which We Discover Agilent Offers Us a Happy Deal and a Sad Name

Last month I wrote that March is Oscilloscope Month, because Agilent had a deal on the MSOX2000 and MSOX3000 series scopes offering higher bandwidth at lower prices. I got an MSOX3034 oscilloscope and...

posted by Jason Sachs on Apr 19 2014 under Test Equipment 
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How to Analyze a Differential Amplifier

There are a handful of things that you just have to know if you do any decent amount of electronic circuit design work. One of them is a voltage divider. Another is the behavior of an RC filter. I'm...

posted by Jason Sachs on Apr 13 2014 under Circuit Design | Analog Circuits 
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Garden Rakes Revisited: The Hall of Shame

A little while ago, I wrote about what I call the "garden rakes" syndrome in software, where there are little bugs or pitfalls lying around like sloppy garden rakes that no one has put away, and when ...

posted by Jason Sachs on Apr 12 2014 under Miscellaneous 
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March is Oscilloscope Month — and at Tim Scale!

I got my oscilloscope today. Maybe that was a bit of an understatement; I'll have to resort to gratuitous typography: I GOT MY OSCILLOSCOPE TODAY!!!! Those of you who are reading this blog may re...

posted by Jason Sachs on Mar 6 2014 under Test Equipment | Measurement 
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Bad Hash Functions and Other Stories: Trapped in a Cage of Irresponsibility and Garden Rakes

I was recently using the publish() function in MATLAB to develop some documentation, and I ran into a problem caused by a bad hash function. In a resource-limited embedded system, you aren't likely t...

posted by Jason Sachs on Jan 28 2014 under Software Development | Applied Math 
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Efficiency Through the Looking-Glass

If you've ever designed or purchased a power supply, chances are you have had to work with efficiency calculations. I can remember in my beginning electronic circuits course in college, in the last le...

posted by Jason Sachs on Dec 8 2013 under Power Electronics | System Design 
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Understanding and Preventing Overflow (I Had Too Much to Add Last Night)

Happy Thanksgiving! Maybe the memory of eating too much turkey is fresh in your mind. If so, this would be a good time to talk about overflow. In the world of floating-point arithmetic, overflow is p...

posted by Jason Sachs on Dec 4 2013 under Software Development | Tutorials 
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