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You Don't Need an RTOS (Part 3)

Nathan Jones June 3, 20241 comment

In this third article I'll share with you a few cooperative schedulers (with a mix of both free and commercial licenses) that implement a few of the OS primitives that the "Superduperloop" is currently missing, possibly giving you a ready-to-go solution for your system. On the other hand, I don't think it's all that hard to add thread flags, binary and counting semaphores, event flags, mailboxes/queues, a simple Observer pattern, and something I call a "marquee" to the "Superduperloop"; I'll show you how to do that in the second half of this article and the next. Although it will take a little more work than just using one of the projects above, it will give you the maximum amount of control over your system and it will let you write tasks in ways you could only dream of using an RTOS or other off-the-shelf system.


Finite State Machines (FSM) in Embedded Systems (Part 4) - Let 'em talk

Massimiliano Pagani May 22, 20242 comments

No state machine is an island. State machines do not exist in a vacuum, they need to "talk" to their environment and each other to share information and provide synchronization to perform the system functions. In this conclusive article, you will find what kind of problems and which critical areas you need to pay attention to when designing a concurrent system. Although the focus is on state machines, the consideration applies to every system that involves more than one execution thread.


You Don't Need an RTOS (Part 2)

Nathan Jones May 7, 20246 comments

In this second article, we'll tweak the simple superloop in three critical ways that will improve it's worst-case response time (WCRT) to be nearly as good as a preemptive RTOS ("real-time operating system"). We'll do this by adding task priorities, interrupts, and finite state machines. Additionally, we'll discuss how to incorporate a sleep mode when there's no work to be done and I'll also share with you a different variation on the superloop that can help schedule even the toughest of task sets.


Finite State Machines (FSM) in Embedded Systems (Part 3) - Unuglify C++ FSM with DSL

Massimiliano Pagani May 7, 2024

Domain Specific Languages (DSL) are an effective way to avoid boilerplate or repetitive code. Using DSLs lets the programmer focus on the problem domain, rather than the mechanisms used to solve it. Here I show how to design and implement a DSL using the C++ preprocessor, using the FSM library, and the examples I presented in my previous articles.


Linear Feedback Shift Registers for the Uninitiated

Jason Sachs April 28, 2024

In 2017 and 2018 I wrote an eighteen-part series of articles about linear feedback shift registers, or LFSRs:

div.jms-article-content ol > li { list-style-type: upper-roman } Ex-Pralite Monks and Finite Fields, in which we describe what an LFSR is as a digital circuit; its cyclic behavior over time; the definition of groups, rings, and fields; the isomorphism between N-bit LFSRs and the field \( GF(2^N) \); and the reason why I wrote this series

You Don't Need an RTOS (Part 1)

Nathan Jones April 11, 20247 comments

In this first article, we'll compare our two contenders, the superloop and the RTOS. We'll define a few terms that help us describe exactly what functions a scheduler does and why an RTOS can help make certain systems work that wouldn't with a superloop. By the end of this article, you'll be able to: - Measure or calculate the deadlines, periods, and worst-case execution times for each task in your system, - Determine, using either a response-time analysis or a utilization test, if that set of tasks is schedulable using either a superloop or an RTOS, and - Assign RTOS task priorities optimally.


Unraveling the Enigma: Object Detection in the World of Pixels

Charu Pande February 8, 2024

Exploring the realm of embedded systems co-design for object recognition, this blog navigates the convergence of hardware and software in revolutionizing industries. Delving into real-time image analysis and environmental sensing, the discussion highlights advanced object detection and image segmentation techniques. With insights into Convolutional Neural Networks (CNNs) decoding pixel data and autonomously extracting features, the blog emphasizes their pivotal role in modern computer vision. Practical examples, including digit classification using TensorFlow and Keras on the MNIST dataset, underscore the power of CNNs. Through industry insights and visualization aids, the blog unveils a tapestry of innovation, charting a course towards seamless interaction between intelligent embedded systems and the world.


Finite State Machines (FSM) in Embedded Systems (Part 1) - There's a State in This Machine!

Massimiliano Pagani February 5, 20243 comments

An introduction to state machines and their implementation. Working from an intuitive definition of the state machine concept, we will start with a straightforward implementation then we evolve it into a more robust and engineered solution.


Ten Little Algorithms, Part 7: Continued Fraction Approximation

Jason Sachs December 24, 2023

In this article we explore the use of continued fractions to approximate any particular real number, with practical applications.


Elliptic Curve Cryptography - Multiple Signatures

Mike November 19, 2023

The use of point pairing becomes very useful when many people are required to sign one document. This is typical in a contract situation when several people are agreeing to a set of requirements. If we used the method described in the blog on signatures, each person would sign the document, and then the verification process would require checking every single signature. By using pairings, only one check needs to be performed. The only requirement is the ability to verify the...


Ten Little Algorithms, Part 2: The Single-Pole Low-Pass Filter

Jason Sachs April 27, 201516 comments

Other articles in this series:

I’m writing this article in a room with a bunch of other people talking, and while sometimes I wish they would just SHUT UP, it would be...


Ten Little Algorithms, Part 1: Russian Peasant Multiplication

Jason Sachs March 21, 20156 comments

This blog needs some short posts to balance out the long ones, so I thought I’d cover some of the algorithms I’ve used over the years. Like the Euclidean algorithm and Extended Euclidean algorithm and Newton’s method — except those you should know already, and if not, you should be locked in a room until you do. Someday one of them may save your life. Well, you never know.

Other articles in this series:

  • Part 1:

From Baremetal to RTOS: A review of scheduling techniques

Jacob Beningo June 8, 201617 comments

Transitioning from bare-metal embedded software development to a real-time operating system (RTOS) can be a difficult endeavor. Many developers struggle with the question of whether they should use an RTOS or simply use a bare-metal scheduler. One of the goals of this series is to walk developers through the transition and decision making process of abandoning bare-metal thinking and getting up to speed quickly with RTOSes. Before diving into the details of RTOSes, the appropriate first step...


Ten Little Algorithms, Part 4: Topological Sort

Jason Sachs July 5, 20151 comment

Other articles in this series:

Today we’re going to take a break from my usual focus on signal processing or numerical algorithms, and focus on...


Ten Little Algorithms, Part 5: Quadratic Extremum Interpolation and Chandrupatla's Method

Jason Sachs November 11, 20159 comments

Today we will be drifting back into the topic of numerical methods, and look at an algorithm that takes in a series of discretely-sampled data points, and estimates the maximum value of the waveform they were sampled from.


Ten Little Algorithms, Part 6: Green’s Theorem and Swept-Area Detection

Jason Sachs June 18, 20173 comments

Other articles in this series:

This article is mainly an excuse to scribble down some cryptic-looking mathematics — Don’t panic! Close your eyes and scroll down if you feel nauseous — and...


Practical CRCs for Embedded Systems

Stephen Friederichs October 20, 20153 comments

CRCs are a very practical tool for embedded systems: you're likely to need to use one as part of a communications protocol or to verify the integrity of a program image before writing it to flash. But CRCs can be difficult to understand and tricky to implement. The first time I attempted to write CRC code from scratch I failed once. Then twice. Then three times. Eventually I gave up and used an existing library. I consider myself intelligent: I got A's...


Linear Feedback Shift Registers for the Uninitiated, Part VII: LFSR Implementations, Idiomatic C, and Compiler Explorer

Jason Sachs November 13, 20171 comment

The last four articles were on algorithms used to compute with finite fields and shift registers:

Today we’re going to come back down to earth and show how to implement LFSR updates on a microcontroller. We’ll also talk a little bit about something called “idiomatic C” and a neat online tool for experimenting with the C compiler.


Elliptic Curve Cryptography

Mike November 16, 20156 comments

Secure online communications require encryption. One standard is AES (Advanced Encryption Standard) from NIST. But for this to work, both sides need the same key for encryption and decryption. This is called Private Key encryption.