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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...


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...


The Self-Directed Virtual Internship

Steve Branam May 3, 2020

A number of my LinkedIn connections are college and university students at the bachelor's, master's, and doctoral levels, from all over the world. The embedded systems community constantly amazes me.

One fallout they're experiencing from COVID19 is cancellation of summer internships. This is very unfortunate, because an internship represents maintaining educational momentum and preparing for launch of a career with a taste of the real working world, along with some financial...


Simple Automated Log Processing

Steve Branam April 25, 2020

Text log data offers a wealth of information from an embedded system. At least during prototyping and development phases, most systems have some kind of serial log output, or use semihosting methods to log to a serial output channel in a debugger. Then you can capture the logs to a file.

The problem is that they tend to accumulate large volumes of data. Logs can be many thousands of lines long, especially when you run long duration tests. Finding information and evaluating trends in the...


Some Advice For Working From Home

Steve Branam March 28, 20201 comment

The other day I posted a short video of my WFH setup (and here's a May 1st upgrade). Today I have some general advice for WFH for people who are new to it.

I've been doing it randomly for the past 5 years, usually just one or two days a week here and there. Now it's a full-time thing for the duration of the coronavirus. So some of this wanders afield a bit, settling in for the long haul.

Some of it is based on things I've built up over years. It's unreasonable to expect that...


Examining The Stack For Fun And Profit

Steve Branam February 19, 20201 comment

Well, maybe not so much for profit, but certainly for fun. This is a wandering journey of exploration and discovery, learning a variety of interesting and useful things.

One of the concerns with an embedded system is how much memory it needs, known as the memory footprint. This consists of the persistent storage needed for the program (i.e. the flash memory or filesystem space that stores the executable image), and the volatile storage needed to hold the data while executing over long...


My Guiding Principles As An Engineer

Steve Branam February 27, 2021

These are my guiding principles as an embedded systems software engineer, forged over 40 years of experience. They shape the way I work and approach problems, and maintain my attitude in the face of adversity.

You may find them useful as well, whether working as a developer, a manager, or an executive, alone or on a team, when things are going well, and when they aren't.

They're a combination of favorite quotes and my own bits of derivative wisdom I've sprinkled...


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...


Learning From Engineering Failures

Steve Branam July 29, 2021
Contents: Introduction

I'm an informal student of engineering failures. They guide a lot of my attitude and approach towards engineering.

This is rooted in two of my favorite quotes:

  • George Santayana: Those who do not remember the past are condemned to repeat it.
  • Louis...

Introducing The VolksEEG Project

Steve Branam October 31, 2021
Introduction

The VolksEEG project is an open-source project with the goal of creating an electroenchephalogram (EEG) machine, fully cleared by the FDA for standard clinical use. All designs will be freely available for others to manufacture.

The project was founded by Alan Cohen, a medical device systems engineer with an electrical engineering/software (EE/SW) background in Boston, USA, and Dr. Bryan Glezerson


Your Career Archive

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...


The Missing Agile Conversation

Steve Branam May 15, 2023

In this article, we learn about Agile practices and how they use stories as units of development. Stories consist of a brief description, one to a few sentences. They don’t contain details sufficient to allow a developer to implement them. The Agile practice is to defer details as long as possible because conditions may change. When a developer takes on a story to implement, that’s the time for them to perform the work that has been deferred. They do this by having a conversation, a series of specific discussions working closely with the various SME’s (Subject Matter Experts) who have information relevant to the story.


VolksEEG Project: Initial Hardware Architecture

Steve Branam November 2, 20211 comment

The initial hardware architecture for the prototype VolksEEG uses an Adafruit Feather nRF52840 Sense, which connects to a PC via USB for UI (User Interface). Through several additional chips, this provides power to and acquires data from the ADS1299 ADC.

An important topic I mentioned in my introduction to the project is isolation, ensuring there is no conductive path for current through the patient. The architecture is therefore split into...


Review: Prototype to Product

Steve Branam October 16, 2021

Prototype to Product: A Practical Guide for Getting to Market, by Alan Cohen, is a must-read for anyone involved in product development, whether in a technical, management, or executive role.

I was reminded of it by Cohen's recent episode on Embedded.fm, 388: Brains Generate EMF, which is worth listening to a couple times through, especially if you're interested in medical device development. And in fact his first episode there, 


Video-Based STEM Embedded Systems Curriculum, Part 2

Steve Branam October 25, 2021
Contents: Introduction

This post continues from part 1. It contains the first three lesson plans.

Lesson Plan 1: Introducing Arduino

This lesson is first because Arduino is the simplest programming environment, yet allows lots of interaction with hardware. In...


Memfault State of IoT Report