Embedded World 2018 - More Videos!
After the interview videos last week, this week I am very happy to release two more videos taken at Embedded World 2018 and that I am proud of.
For both videos, I made extensive use of my two new toys, a Zhiyun Crane Gimbal and a Sony a6300 camera.
The use of a gimbal like the Zhiyun makes a big difference in terms of making the footage look much more stable and cinematographic.
As for the Sony camera, it takes fantastic slow-motion footage and...
Embedded World 2018 - The Interviews
Once again this year, I had the chance to go to Embedded World in Nuremberg Germany. And once again this year, I brought my video equipment to try and capture some of the most interesting things at the show.
Something new this year, I asked Jacob Beningo if he would partner with me in doing interviews with a few vendors. I would operate the camera while Jacob would ask the right questions to the vendors to make them talk about the key products/features that...
Linear Feedback Shift Registers for the Uninitiated, Part XIII: System Identification
Last time we looked at spread-spectrum techniques using the output bit sequence of an LFSR as a pseudorandom bit sequence (PRBS). The main benefit we explored was increasing signal-to-noise ratio (SNR) relative to other disturbance signals in a communication system.
This time we’re going to use a PRBS from LFSR output to do something completely different: system identification. We’ll show two different methods of active system identification, one using sine waves and the other...
Circuit Board Standoffs
If you are unable to find a circuit board mount in the size you need, there is an alternative. You could make them from tubing, like steel brake line, with a bolt in the middle. You could use plastic tubing with a bolt.Using a solid rod is also an option.
If you opt to use some type of rod, there are some things to keep in mind. Drill rod is very tough, but could be hard to thread smaller bolts. Mild steel rod isn’t quite as tough, but it easier to thread. ...
Is it a Bug or an Error?
Probably you’ve heard the story of how Adm. Grace Hopper attached a moth that was dislodged from a relay in the Harvard Mark II mainframe to an engineering notebook and labeled it the “First actual case of bug being found.”
Designers of electronics, including Thomas Edison, had been using the term bug for decades. But it was mostly after this amusing 1947 event hat the use of words like “bugs” and “debugging” took off in the emerging software realm.
So why is it that if a...
A Wish for Things That Work
As the end of the year approaches, I become introspective. This year I am frustrated by bad user interfaces in software.
Actually, every year, throughout the year, I am frustrated by bad user interfaces in software. And yet here it is, the end of 2017, and things aren’t getting much better! Argh!
I wrote about this sort of thing a bit back in 2011 (“Complexity in Consumer Electronics Considered Harmful”) but I think it’s time to revisit the topic. So I’m...
Linear Feedback Shift Registers for the Uninitiated, Part XII: Spread-Spectrum Fundamentals
Last time we looked at the use of LFSRs for pseudorandom number generation, or PRNG, and saw two things:
- the use of LFSR state for PRNG has undesirable serial correlation and frequency-domain properties
- the use of single bits of LFSR output has good frequency-domain properties, and its autocorrelation values are so close to zero that they are actually better than a statistically random bit stream
The unusually-good correlation properties...
Linear Feedback Shift Registers for the Uninitiated, Part XI: Pseudorandom Number Generation
Last time we looked at the use of LFSRs in counters and position encoders.
This time we’re going to look at pseudorandom number generation, and why you may — or may not — want to use LFSRs for this purpose.
But first — an aside:Science Fair 1983
When I was in fourth grade, my father bought a Timex/Sinclair 1000. This was one of several personal computers introduced in 1982, along with the Commodore 64. The...
Linear Feedback Shift Registers for the Uninitiated, Part X: Counters and Encoders
Last time we looked at LFSR output decimation and the computation of trace parity.
Today we are starting to look in detail at some applications of LFSRs, namely counters and encoders.Counters
I mentioned counters briefly in the article on easy discrete logarithms. The idea here is that the propagation delay in an LFSR is smaller than in a counter, since the logic to compute the next LFSR state is simpler than in an ordinary counter. All you need to construct an LFSR is
Linear Feedback Shift Registers for the Uninitiated, Part IX: Decimation, Trace Parity, and Cyclotomic Cosets
Last time we looked at matrix methods and how they can be used to analyze two important aspects of LFSRs:
- time shifts
- state recovery from LFSR output
In both cases we were able to use a finite field or bitwise approach to arrive at the same result as a matrix-based approach. The matrix approach is more expensive in terms of execution time and memory storage, but in some cases is conceptually simpler.
This article will be covering some concepts that are useful for studying the...
First-Order Systems: The Happy Family
— Лев Николаевич Толстой, Анна КаренинаHappy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.
— Lev Nicholaevich Tolstoy, Anna Karenina
I was going to write an article about second-order systems, but then realized that it would be...
How to Give Persistent Names To USB-Serial Devices on Ubuntu 14.04
If you have a bunch of USB-serial devices connected to your dock station and you needed to bind your USB-serial devices under static names so that all the USB-serial devices don't get to be assigned to random names by "udev" manager when you re-plug your laptop to the dock station, follow the instructions below. I will share the udev rules I created as a reference and give the step by step instructions to achieve persistent naming. All the steps worked on my Ubuntu 14.04...
Round-robin or RTOS for my embedded system
First of all, I would like to introduce myself. I am Manuel Herrera. I am starting to write blogs about the situations that I have faced over the years of my career and discussed with colleagues.
To begin, I would like to open a conversation with a dilemma that is present when starting a project ... must I use or not any operating system?
I hope it helps you to form your own criteria and above all that you enjoy it.
Does my embedded system need an...
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 using a MOSFET. How do you choose which circuit topology to choose? You basically have four options, shown below:
From left to right, these are:High-side switch, N-channel MOSFET High-side switch, P-channel MOSFET Low-side switch, N-channel...
Important Programming Concepts (Even on Embedded Systems) Part II: Immutability
Other articles in this series:
- Part I: Idempotence
- Part III: Volatility
- Part IV: Singletons
- Part V: State Machines
- Part VI: Abstraction
This article will discuss immutability, and some of its variations in the topic of functional programming.
There are a whole series of benefits to using program variables that… well, that aren’t actually variable, but instead are immutable. The impact of...
Discrete-Time PLLs, Part 1: Basics
Design Files: Part1.slx
In this series of tutorials on discrete-time PLLs we will be focusing on Phase-Locked Loops that can be implemented in discrete-time signal proessors such as FPGAs, DSPs and of course, MATLAB.
In the first part of the series, we will be reviewing the basics of continuous-time baseband PLLs and we will see some useful mathematics that will give us insight into the inners working of PLLs. In the second part, we will focus on...
PID Without a PhD
I both consult and teach in the area of digital control. Through both of these efforts, I have found that while there certainly are control problems that require all the expertise I can bring to bear, there are a great number of control problems that can be solved with the most basic knowledge of simple controllers, without resort to any formal control theory at all.
This article will tell you how to implement a simple controller in software and how to tune it without getting into heavy...
Getting Started With Embedded Linux - From Nothing To A Login Prompt
One of the famous observations that have been made related to embedded systems is referred to as “Moore’s Law”, which states that the number of transistors in integrated circuits doubles every year. This observation has held mostly true for the past several decades, so powerful CPUs are no longer simply relegated to servers, desktops, and laptops. Instead, we see powerful CPUs with increased capabilities being introduced into embedded systems on devices that live at “the edge”....
VHDL tutorial - combining clocked and sequential logic
In an earlier article on VHDL programming ("VHDL tutorial" and "VHDL tutorial - part 2 - Testbench", I described a design for providing a programmable clock divider for a ADC sequencer. In this example, I showed how to generate a clock signal (ADCClk), that was to be programmable over a series of fixed rates (20MHz, 10MHz, 4MHz, 2MHz, 1MHz and 400KHz), given a master clock rate of 40MHz. A reader of that article had written to ask if it was possible to extend the design to...
The Least Interesting Circuit in the World
It does nothing, most of the time.
It cannot compute pi. It won’t oscillate. It doesn’t light up.
Often it makes other circuits stop working.
It is… the least interesting circuit in the world.
What is it?
About 25 years ago, I took a digital computer architecture course, and we were each given use of an ugly briefcase containing a bunch of solderless breadboards and a power supply and switches and LEDs — and a bunch of
Donald Knuth Is the Root of All Premature Optimization
This article is about something profound that a brilliant young professor at Stanford wrote nearly 45 years ago, and now we’re all stuck with it.TL;DR
The idea, basically, is that even though optimization of computer software to execute faster is a noble goal, with tangible benefits, this costs time and effort up front, and therefore the decision to do so should not be made on whims and intuition, but instead should be made after some kind of analysis to show that it has net...
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 are RLC circuits and spring-mass-damper systems.
Spring-mass-damper systems are fairly common; you’ve seen these before, whether you realize it or not. One household example of these is the spring doorstop (BOING!!):
(For what it’s worth: the spring...
StrangeCPU #2. Sliding Window Token Machines
An in-depth exploration of Sliding Window Token Machines; ARM notes.Table of Contents:
- Part 1: A new CPU - technology review, re-examination of the premises; StrangeCPU concepts; x86 notes.
- Part 2: Sliding-Window Token Machines, an in-depth exploration of this curious technology; ARM notes.
- Part 3. Instruction Slides - The Strangest CPU Yet! Decoding instructions with a Sliding Window...
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 to run into hash functions. They have three major applications: cryptography, data integrity, and data structures. In all these cases, hash functions are used to take some type of data, and deterministically boil it down to a fixed-size "fingerprint" or "hash" of the original data, such that...
How to Arduino - a video toolbox
I've begun producing a new series of video tutorials for the hobbyist new to the Arduino or microcontrollers in general. My videos are very pragmatic - I prefer to answer the question "what is the quickest, simplest and most affordable way to accomplish this?". The videos are meant to be a quick source of "how to" knowledge for the hobbyist that is using an LCD display, ultrasonic sensor or accelerometer for the first time, for example. I hope you enjoy this series of...
10 More (Obscure) Circuit Components You Should Know
The interest in my previous article on obscure but useful electronics parts, "10 Circuit Components You Should Know" was encouraging enough that I thought I would write a followup. So here are another 10:
1. "Ideal Diode" controllers
Load-sharing circuits use diodes tied together at their cathode terminal to take the most positive voltage among the sources and connect it to a load. Works great: you have a DC/DC power supply, a battery, and a solar cell, and it will use whichever output is...
Real-time clocks: Does anybody really know what time it is?
We recently started writing software to make use of a real-time clock IC, and found to our chagrin that the chip was missing a rather useful function, namely elapsed time in seconds since the standard epoch (January 1, 1970, midnight UTC).Let me back up a second.A real-time clock/calendar (RTC) is a micropower chip that has an oscillator on it that keeps counting time, independent of main system power. Usually this is done with a lithium battery that can power the RTC for years, so that even...
Using XML to describe embedded devices (and speak to them)
This article discusses one of the typical development cycles in embedded device and communication design and presents a possible, light weight solution using the free DClib/netpp framework.The challenge
Assume we're faced with the design of an embedded device, be it a simple SoC unit or a more complex, uC controlled engine with various attached peripherals. From first prototype to the market, the following development cycle is typically walked through:
C++ on microcontrollers 2 - LPCXpresso, LPC-link, Code Sourcery, lpc21isp, linkerscript, LPC1114 startup
previous parts: 1
This blog series is about the use of C++ for modern microcontrollers. My plan is to show the gradual development of a basic I/O library. I will introduce the object-oriented C++ features that are used step by step, to provide a gentle yet practical introduction into C++ for C programmers. Reader input is very much appreciated, you might even steer me in the direction you find most interesting.
I teach my students that...
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 : likely to become dangerous or out of control
— Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary
Other articles in this series: