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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 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 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 you just follow these easy steps: Choose t...

posted by Jason Sachs on Jul 28 2014 under Circuit Design | Measurement 
Comments (1) |

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 
Comments (1) |

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 
Comments (2) |

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 
Comments (1) |

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) |

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 
Comments (0) |

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 
Comments (4) |

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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How to Estimate Encoder Velocity Without Making Stupid Mistakes: Part II (Tracking Loops and PLLs)

Yeeehah! Finally we're ready to tackle some more clever ways to figure out the velocity of a position encoder. In part I, we looked at the basics of velocity estimation. Then in my last article, I tal...

posted by Jason Sachs on Nov 17 2013 under Applied Math | Signal Processing 
Comments (4) |

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) |

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) |

Fluxions for Fun and Profit: Euler, Trapezoidal, Verlet, or Runge-Kutta?

Today we're going to take another diversion from embedded systems, and into the world of differential equations, modeling, and computer simulation. DON'T PANIC! First of all, just pretend I didn't b...

posted by Jason Sachs on Sep 30 2013 under Applied Math 
Comments (2) |

Signal Processing Contest in Python (PREVIEW): The Worst Encoder in the World

When I posted an article on estimating velocity from a position encoder, I got a number of responses. A few of them were of the form "Well, it's an interesting article, but at slow speeds why can't yo...

posted by Jason Sachs on Sep 7 2013 under Signal Processing 
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