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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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Important Programming Concepts (Even on Embedded Systems) Part V: State Machines

Earlier articles in this series: Part I: Idempotence Part II: Immutability Part III: Volatility Part IV: Singletons Oh, hell, this article just had to be about state machines, didn’t it...

posted by Jason Sachs on Jan 5 2015 under Software Development | System Design 
Comments (5) |

Voltage Drops Are Falling on My Head: Operating Points, Linearization, Temperature Coefficients, and Thermal Runaway

Today’s topic was originally going to be called “Small Changes Caused by Various Things”, because I couldn’t think of a better title. Then I changed the title. This one’s...

posted by Jason Sachs on Jan 19 2015 under Circuit Design | Analog Circuits 
Comments (0) |

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) |

How to Estimate Encoder Velocity Without Making Stupid Mistakes: Part I

Here's a common problem: you have a quadrature encoder to measure the angular position of a motor, and you want to know both the position and the velocity. How do you do it? Some people do it poorly -...

posted by Jason Sachs on Dec 27 2012
Comments (21) |

Thermistor signal conditioning: Dos and Don'ts, Tips and Tricks

In an earlier blog entry,  I mentioned this circuit for thermistor signal conditioning: It is worth a little more explanation on thermistor signal conditioning; it's something that's often don...

posted by Jason Sachs on Jun 15 2011
Comments (5) |

Adventures in Signal Processing with Python (MATLAB? We don’t need no stinkin' MATLAB!)

OK, now back to some down-to-earth topics after that last philosophical diversion. This post will be a short tour of PyLab, and a springboard for a number of other topics — including that long-a...

posted by Jason Sachs on Jun 23 2013
Comments (6) |

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 
Comments (0) |

Important Programming Concepts (Even on Embedded Systems) Part IV: Singletons

Earlier articles in this series: Part I: Idempotence Part II: Immutability Part III: Volatility Today’s topic is the singleton. This article is unique (pun intended) in that unlike the o...

posted by Jason Sachs on Nov 11 2014 under Software Development | System Design 
Comments (2) |

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 
Comments (0) |

Analog-to-Digital Confusion: Pitfalls of Driving an ADC

  Imagine the following scenario:You're a successful engineer (sounds nice, doesn't it!) working on a project with three or four circuit boards. More than even you can handle, so you give one of...

posted by Jason Sachs on Nov 19 2011
Comments (2) |

Byte and Switch (Part 1)

Imagine for a minute you have an electromagnet, and a microcontroller, and you want to use the microcontroller to turn the electromagnet on and off. Sounds pretty typical, right?We ask this question o...

posted by Jason Sachs on Apr 26 2011
Comments (8) |

Help, My Serial Data Has Been Framed: How To Handle Packets When All You Have Are Streams

Today we're going to talk about data framing and something called COBS, which will make your life easier the next time you use serial communications on an embedded system -- but first, here's a quiz: ...

posted by Jason Sachs on Dec 11 2011
Comments (7) |

Short Takes (EE Shanty): What shall we do with a zero-ohm resistor?

In circuit board design you often need flexibility. It can cost hundreds or thousands of dollars to respin a circuit board, so I need flexibility for two main reasons: sometimes it's important to b...

posted by Jason Sachs on Oct 19 2013 under Circuit Design 
Comments (2) |

How to Build a Fixed-Point PI Controller That Just Works: Part I

This two-part article explains five tips to make a fixed-point PI controller work well. I am not going to talk about loop tuning -- there are hundreds of articles and books about that; any control-sys...

posted by Jason Sachs on Feb 26 2012
Comments (4) |

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 
Comments (7) |

Lost Secrets of the H-Bridge, Part III: Practical Issues of Inductor and Capacitor Ripple Current

We've been analyzing the ripple current in an H-bridge, both in an inductive load and the DC link capacitor. Here's a really quick recap; if you want to get into more details, go back and read part I ...

posted by Jason Sachs on Aug 24 2013 under Power Electronics | Signal Processing 
Comments (4) |

How to Build a Fixed-Point PI Controller That Just Works: Part II

In Part I we talked about some of the issues around discrete-time proportional-integral (PI) controllers: various forms and whether to use the canonical form for z-transforms (don't do it!) order ...

posted by Jason Sachs on Mar 24 2012
Comments (2) |

Another 10 Circuit Components You Should Know

It's that time again to review all the oddball goodies available in electronic components. These are things you should have in your bag of tricks when you need to design a circuit board. If you read m...

posted by Jason Sachs on Oct 30 2013 under Circuit Design 
Comments (1) |

Optimizing Optoisolators, and Other Stories of Making Do With Less

It’s been a few months since I’ve rolled up my sleeves here and dug into some good old circuit design issues. I started out with circuit design articles, and I’ve missed it. Today&r...

posted by Jason Sachs on Dec 14 2014 under Circuit Design | Analog Circuits | Optimization 
Comments (1) |

Which MOSFET topology?

A recent electronics.StackExchange question brings up a good topic for discussion. Let's say you have a power supply and a 2-wire load you want to be able to switch on and off from the power supply us...

posted by Jason Sachs on Sep 1 2011
Comments (4) |
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