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Steve Branam December 30, 2020

Clive Maxfield and Adam Taylor recently published a series of blog posts about how to get and keep an engineering job, discussing preparation in high school through early career stages. I've just started a new job, and wanted to add some information on a particular aspect of changing jobs, the employment background check.

Over the past 10 years, I've changed jobs several times. Three of those jobs, including the most recent two, have required background checks as part of...


Painting with Light to Measure Time

Jason Sachs December 26, 2020

Recently I was faced with a dilemma while working from home. I needed to verify an implementation of first-order sigma-delta modulation used to adjust LED brightness. (I have described this in more detail in Modulation Alternatives for the Software Engineer.) I did not, however, have an oscilloscope.

And then I remembered something, about a technique called “light painting”: basically a long-exposure photograph where a...


The DSP Online Conference - Right Around the Corner!

Stephane Boucher September 20, 2020

It is Sunday night as I write this blog post with a few days to go before the virtual doors of the very first DSP Online Conference open..

It all started with a post in the DSPRelated forum about three months ago.  We had just had a blast running the 2020 Embedded Online Conference and we thought it could be fun to organize a smaller event dedicated to the DSP community.  So my goal with the post in the forum was to see if...


Review: Hands-On RTOS with Microcontrollers

Steve Branam September 20, 20202 comments

Full disclosure: I was given a free copy of this book for evaluation.

Hands-On RTOS with Microcontrollers: Building real-time embedded systems using FreeRTOS, STM32 MCUs, and SEGGER debug tools by Brian Amos is an outstanding book. It lives up to its name, extremely hands-on and practical, taking you from knowing nothing about RTOS's (Real-Time Operating Systems) up to building real multithreaded embedded system applications running on real hardware.

It uses the ST Micro


Review: Project Management for the Unofficial Project Manager

Steve Branam July 26, 2020

Software development projects are notorious for having problems. Late, over budget, not working properly, making people's lives miserable all around. Embedded systems add the further complication of hardware to that.

How many of us have lived through problematic projects? Hopefully some of them have at least been ultimately successful to make all the suffering worth it in the end, but there are plenty that haven't.

I don't consider myself a project manager, or a manager...


Scorchers, Part 3: Bare-Metal Concurrency With Double-Buffering and the Revolving Fireplace

Jason Sachs July 25, 20201 comment

This is a short article about one technique for communicating between asynchronous processes on bare-metal embedded systems.

Q: Why did the multithreaded chicken cross the road?

A: to To other side. get the

— Jason Whittington

There are many reasons why concurrency is


Make Hardware Great Again

Jeff Brower June 29, 20205 comments

By now you're aware of the collective angst in the US about 5G. Why is the US not a leader in 5G ? Could that also happen -- indeed, is it happening -- in AI ? If we lead in other areas, why not 5G ? What makes it so hard ?

This hand-wringing has reached the highest levels in US government. Recently the Wall Street Journal reported on a DoJ promoted plan 1 to help Cisco buy Ericsson or Nokia, to give the US a leg up in 5G. This is not a new plan,...


Tolerance Analysis

Jason Sachs May 31, 2020

Today we’re going to talk about tolerance analysis. This is a topic that I have danced around in several previous articles, but never really touched upon in its own right. The closest I’ve come is Margin Call, where I discussed several different techniques of determining design margin, and ran through some calculations to justify that it was safe to allow a certain amount of current through an IRFP260N MOSFET.

Tolerance analysis...


How to make a heap profiler

Yossi Kreinin May 23, 20141 comment

We'll see how to make a heap profiler. Example code for this post makes up heapprof, a working 250-line heap profiler for programs using malloc/free.

It works out of the box on Linux (tested on "real" programs like gdb and python). The main point though is being easy to port and modify to suit your needs. The code, build and test scripts are at github.

Why roll your own heap profiler?

  • It's easy! And fun, if you're that sort of person. What, not reasons enough? OK, how...

Jaywalking Around the Compiler

Jason Sachs December 9, 20193 comments

Our team had another code review recently. I looked at one of the files, and bolted upright in horror when I saw a function that looked sort of like this:

void some_function(SOMEDATA_T *psomedata) { asm volatile("push CORCON"); CORCON = 0x00E2; do_some_other_stuff(psomedata); asm volatile("pop CORCON"); }

There is a serious bug here — do you see what it is?


Recruiting New Bloggers!

Stephane Boucher October 16, 20157 comments

Previous calls for bloggers have been very successful in recruiting some great communicators - Rick LyonsJason Sachs, Victor Yurkovsky, Mike Silva, Markus NentwigGene BrenimanStephen Friederichs,


Little to no benefit from C based HLS

Christopher Felton April 4, 2014

Last updated 07-Nov-2015

As I write this I am on a plane and my destination is EELive 2014 where I am going to give a talk hardware design: the grunge era.  It is a shotgun introduction to three alternative hardware description languages (alt.hdl). The three languages briefly introduced in the talk are: bsv, chisel, and myhdl.  The goal of the talk is simply to raise awareness of the three...


Metal detection: beat frequency oscillator

Fabien Le Mentec January 30, 20161 comment
Plan Introduction Theory Electronics Software Tests ReferencesNext part: building the detector 1. Introduction

This article discusses the implementation of a beat frequency oscillator (BFO) stage for metal detector. While they are mentioned here and there, the article does not detail other important electronic stages such as the power supply, and user interface, the coil or the detector frame. I may write other articles on these topics, and other detection methods.Before...


A wireless door monitor based on the BANO framework

Fabien Le Mentec June 10, 20145 comments
Introduction

I have been thinking for a while about a system to monitor the states of my flat and my garage doors from a remote place. Functionnaly, I wanted to monitor the state of my doors from a remote place. A typical situation is when I leave for holidays, but it can also be useful from the work office. To do so, I would centralize the information on a server connected on the Internet that I could query using a web browser. The server itself would be located in the appartement, where...


Dealing With Fixed Point Fractions

Mike January 5, 20163 comments

Fixed point fractional representation always gives me a headache because I screw it up the first time I try to implement an algorithm. The difference between integer operations and fractional operations is in the overflow.  If the representation fits in the fixed point result, you can not tell the difference between fixed point integer and fixed point fractions.  When integers overflow, they lose data off the most significant bits.  When fractions overflow, they lose data off...


Oscilloscope review: Hameg HMO2024

Jason Sachs March 28, 20133 comments

Last year I wrote about some of the key characteristics of oscilloscopes that are important to me for working with embedded microcontrollers. In that blog entry I rated the Agilent MSOX3024A 4-channel 16-digital-input oscilloscope highly.

Since then I have moved to a different career, and I am again on the lookout for an oscilloscope. I still consider the Agilent MSOX3024A the best choice for a...


Mutex vs. Semaphore - Part 1

Niall Cooling April 12, 20195 comments

It never ceases to amaze me how often I see postings in forums asking the difference between a semaphore and a mutex. Probably what baffles me more is that over 90% of the time the responses given are either incorrect or missing the key differences. The most often quoted response is that of the “The Toilet Example (c) Copyright 2005, Niclas Winquist” . This summarises the differences as:

  • A mutex is really a semaphore with value 1

No, no, and no again....


Went 280km/h (174mph) in a Porsche Panamera in Germany!

Stephane Boucher July 10, 201712 comments

Those of you who've been following my blog lately already know that I am going through some sort of mid-life crisis that involves going out there to meet people and make videos.  It all started with Embedded World early this year, then continued at ESC Boston a couple of months ago and the latest chapter just concluded as I returned from Germany after spending a week at SEGGER's headquarters to produce a video to highlight their 25th anniversary.