Intel 8088 - A blast from the past

Ed Nutter March 29, 2017

The Intel 8088 is an 8 bit processor related to the 16 bit 8086.

The Microcomputer class consisted of wire-wrapping the chips to perfboard using sockets.I had taken computers apart, soldered, etc., but had never used wire-wrapping to construct a computer board to that point.Most people carried the board to class.  A few people stared when I opened the plywood box with breadboard area, and plugged the full-sized power supply in.  The lid is wide enough to hold the 11x17 paper the...

Zebras Hate You For No Reason: Why Amdahl's Law is Misleading in a World of Cats (And Maybe in Ours Too)

Jason Sachs February 27, 2017

I’ve been wasting far too much of my free time lately on this stupid addicting game called the Kittens Game. It starts so innocently. You are a kitten in a catnip forest. Gather catnip.

And you click on Gather catnip and off you go. Soon you’re hunting unicorns and building Huts and studying Mathematics and Theology and so on. AND IT’S JUST A TEXT GAME! HTML and Javascript, that’s it, no pictures. It’s an example of an

Favorite Tools: C++11 std::array

Matthew Eshleman February 27, 2017

Many embedded software and firmware projects must be developed to high standards of reliability. To meet these reliability requirements, firmware project teams will consider many design tradeoffs. For example, an engineering team may avoid or outright ban the use of dynamic memory allocation, a feature typically accessed via the C library call "malloc" or the C++ allocator "new". When authoring software under such...

Who else is going to Embedded World 2017 in Nuremberg?

Stephane Boucher February 2, 20171 comment

These days I am particularly excited.  In a little bit less than a month and a half, I will be travelling to Nuremberg in Germany to attend Embedded World, by far the biggest Embedded Systems trade show with over 1000 vendors displaying their products and services.

I have downloaded the Duolingo app and I'm trying to do a minimum of 30 minutes per day to learn some German.  So far, I know that 'Frau' is a woman, 'Mann' is a man, 'Danke' is thank you and 'tschüss' is bye - still a...

My little runaway...

Ed Nutter January 19, 2017

Since most vehicles won't float and land gently from more than a few inches, some type of stand is needed to keep the vehicle stationary as work is being done.  It can also prevent crashes and broken things, which becomes more important as the vehicle becomes larger and heavier.

For now, most of my work is done with 1/10 scale or smaller vehicles, so I made a stand from leftover wood.  Full-size vehicles may require a hydraulic lift and jack stands.

Smaller vehicles can be held by...

The Other Kind of Bypass Capacitor

Jason Sachs January 4, 20173 comments

There’s a type of bypass capacitor I’d like to talk about today.

It’s not the usual power supply bypass capacitor, aka decoupling capacitor, which is used to provide local charge storage to an integrated circuit, so that the high-frequency supply currents to the IC can bypass (hence the name) all the series resistance and inductance from the power supply. This reduces the noise on a DC voltage supply. I’ve...

It ain't heavy, it's my robot...

Ed Nutter January 3, 2017

Unmanned Ground Vehicles - Design considerations for man-portable/packable vehicles

A UGV is “a ground based mechanical device that can sense and interact with its environment.” (Carlson, How)

A Field Robot is expected to work outdoors, though generally not in rain or snow, including rough terrain, dirt and dust. (Carlson, Reliability)

A Man-portable robot weighs less than 40 pounds, or is capable of being broken down into subassemblies for two soldiers weighing less than 40...

Unmanned Ground Vehicles - Design Considerations for Snow and Cold Environments

Ed Nutter December 27, 2016

It's that time of year when the white stuff falls from the sky across the US, and with it comes lower temperatures. These conditions must be taken into consideration when designing a vehicle for outdoor use.

A few definitions from wikipedia:

Flurry: light, brief snowfall

Snow shower: intermittent snowfall

Light snow: over 1km visibility

Moderate snow: 0.5 to 1km visibility

Heavy snow: less than 0.5km visibility

Blizzard: lasts 3 hours or longer, sustained wind to 35mph, visibility...

Vala applications on Embedded Linux: maybe a clever choice [part 1]

Felipe Lavratti December 19, 2016

Vala is a sexy, open source, high level programming language that appeared in 2006, it counts with a modern typing system, is object oriented, compiled and statically typed, it has a almost identical syntax to C# and is maintained by GNOME. The language was created as a power abstraction of the GLib and GTK libraries, two considerably lightweight and powerful libraries written in C, and it is used in projects such as GNOME Clocks, Shotwell, GXml and Elementary OS.


How to Succeed in Motor Control: Olaus Magnus, Donald Rumsfeld, and YouTube

Jason Sachs December 12, 2016

Almost four years ago, I had this insight — we were doing it wrong! Most of the application notes on motor control were about the core algorithms: various six-step or field-oriented control methods, with Park and Clarke transforms, sensorless estimators, and whatnot. It was kind of like a driving school would be, if they taught you how the accelerator and brake pedal worked, and how the four-stroke Otto cycle works in internal combustion engines, and handed you a written...

Introduction to Microcontrollers - Beginnings

Mike Silva August 20, 201311 comments

Welcome to this Introduction to Microcontroller Programming tutorial series. If you are looking to learn the basics of embedded programming for microcontrollers (and a bit of embedded hardware design as well), I hope these tutorials will help you along that journey. These are my first postings here, and I am writing this tutorial series because over the years I have seen countless newbies asking the same questions and tripping over the same stumbling blocks, and I thought I might be able to...

MSP430 Launchpad Tutorial - Part 2 - Interrupts and timers

Enrico Garante June 17, 201335 comments

What is an "interrupt"? It is a signal that informs our MCU that a certain event has happened, causing the interruption of the normal flow of the main program and the execution of an "interrupt routine", that handles the event and takes a specified action.

Interrupts are essential to avoid wasting the processor's valuable time in polling loops, waiting for external events (in fact they are used in Real-Time Operating Systems,

My Love-Hate Relationship with Stack Overflow: Arthur S., Arthur T., and the Soup Nazi

Jason Sachs February 15, 201551 comments

Warning: In the interest of maintaining a coherent stream of consciousness, I’m lowering the setting on my profanity filter for this post. Just wanted to let you know ahead of time.

I’ve been a user of Stack Overflow since December of 2008. And I say “user” both in the software sense, and in the drug-addict sense. I’m Jason S, user #44330, and I’m a programming addict. (Hi, Jason S.) The Gravatar, in case you were wondering, is a screen...

How FPGAs work, and why you'll buy one

Yossi Kreinin June 20, 201312 comments

Today, pretty much everyone has a CPU, a DSP and a GPU, buried somewhere in their PC, phone, car, etc. Most don't know or care that they bought any of these, but they did.

Will everyone, at some future point, also buy an FPGA? The market size of FPGAs today is about 1% of the annual global semiconductor sales (~$3B vs ~$300B). Will FPGA eventually...

MSP430 LaunchPad Tutorial - Part 4 - UART Transmission

Enrico Garante July 3, 201320 comments

Today we are going to learn how to communicate using UART with the Launchpad. For this purpose I will replace the default microcontroller that comes with the board with the MSP430G2553. It is the most powerful device in the MSP430 Value Line and it comes with an integrated hardware UART module, along with 16 Kb of Flash memory, 512 bytes of SRAM and an 8-channel, 10 bit ADC.

UART communication can be useful when dealing with sensors: as a basic example, we could...

StrangeCPU #1. A new CPU

Victor Yurkovsky February 25, 20136 comments

Summary: In this multi-part series I will share with you a design, implementation notes and code for a slightly different kind of a CPU featuring a novel token machine that resolves an 8-bit token to pretty much any address in a 32-bit or even 64-bit address space, using not much more than an adder.

Table of Contents:
  • Part 1: A new CPU - technology review, re-examination of the premises;  StrangeCPU concepts; x86 notes.

VHDL tutorial - part 2 - Testbench

Gene Breniman October 30, 20073 comments

In an earlier article I walked through the VHDL coding of a simple design. In this article I will continue the process and create a test bench module to test the earlier design. The Xilinx ISE environment makes it pretty easy to start the testing process. To start the process, select "New Source" from the menu items under "Project". This launches the "New Source Wizard". From within the Wizard select "VHDL Test Bench" and enter the name of the new module (click 'Next' to...

Using the Beaglebone PRU to achieve realtime at low cost

Fabien Le Mentec April 25, 20148 comments

I work as an engineer in a synchrotron facility. A few weeks ago, I helped the people in charge of the power supply developments to integrate a realtime control algorithm on a prototype platform: a BeagleBone Black (BBB) running Linux. I had already worked with this board in the past, and I found it very interesting given its excellent resources versus price ratio (around 40 euros). This time, I was impressed by its realtime capabilities. I thought it would be a good idea to...

Coroutines in one page of C

Yossi Kreinin August 20, 201315 comments

A coroutine is a function that you can jump back into after returning from it - and it remembers where it was in the code, and all the variables. This is very useful at times.

One use is generating a sequence of values. Here's how you can generate all the x,y pairs in a 2D range in Python:

def iterate(max_x, max_y): for x in range(max_x): for y in range(max_y): yield x,y for x,y in iterate(2,2): print x,y

This prints:

0 0 0 1 1 0 1 1

The yield keyword is like...

Chebyshev Approximation and How It Can Help You Save Money, Win Friends, and Influence People

Jason Sachs September 30, 201218 comments

Well... maybe that's a stretch. I don't think I can recommend anything to help you win friends. Not my forte.

But I am going to try to convince you why you should know about Chebyshev approximation, which is a technique for figuring out how you can come as close as possible to computing the result of a mathematical function, with a minimal amount of design effort and CPU power. Let's explore two use cases:

  • Amy has a low-power 8-bit microcontroller and needs to compute \( \sqrt{x} \)...

Who else is going to Embedded World 2017 in Nuremberg?

Stephane Boucher February 2, 20171 comment

These days I am particularly excited.  In a little bit less than a month and a half, I will be travelling to Nuremberg in Germany to attend Embedded World, by far the biggest Embedded Systems trade show with over 1000 vendors displaying their products and services.

I have downloaded the Duolingo app and I'm trying to do a minimum of 30 minutes per day to learn some German.  So far, I know that 'Frau' is a woman, 'Mann' is a man, 'Danke' is thank you and 'tschüss' is bye - still a...

New Comments System (please help me test it)

Stephane Boucher October 4, 201618 comments

I thought it would take me a day or two to implement, it took almost two weeks...

But here it is, the new comments systems for blogs, heavily inspired by the forum system I developed earlier this year.  

Which means that:

  • You can easily add images, either by drag and drop or through the 'Insert Image' button
  • You can add MathML, TeX and ASCIImath equations and they will be rendered with Mathjax
  • You can add code snippets and they will be highlighted with highlights.js
  • You can edit...

3 Good News

Stephane Boucher March 9, 20161 comment
Good News #1

Last week, I announced a new and ambitious reward program that will be funded by the new Vendors Directory.

This week, I am happy to announce that we have our firsts two sponsors!  Quantum Leaps & Abelon Systems have agreed to pay the sponsorship fee to be listed in the new Vendors Directory.  Because of their support, there is now some money in the reward pool ($1,000) and enough to pay for the firsts 500 'beers' awarded.  Please...

Go Big or Go Home - Generating $500,000 for Contributors

Stephane Boucher February 18, 20168 comments
In a Nutshell
  • A new Vendors Directory has been created
  • Vendors will be invited to pay a sponsorship fee to be listed in the directory
  • 100% of the basic sponsorship fee will be distributed to the *Related Sites community through a novel reward system
  • The goal is for the directory to eventually generate - drum roll please -  $500,000 on a yearly basis for contributing members on the *Related Sites
  • Members will choose how the reward money gets distributed between...

The New Forum is LIVE!

Stephane Boucher February 18, 20161 comment

After months of hard word, I am very excited to introduce to you the new forum interface.  

Here are the key features:

1- Easily add images to a post by drag & dropping the images in the editor

2- Easily attach files to a post by drag & dropping the files in the editor

3- Add latex equations to a post and they will be rendered with Mathjax (tutorial)

4- Add a code snippet and surround the code with

Helping New Bloggers to Break the Ice: A New Ipad Pro for the Author with the Best Article!

Stephane Boucher November 9, 2015

Breaking the ice can be tough.  Over the years, many individuals have asked to be given access to the blogging interface only to never post an article.  Maybe they underestimated the time it takes to write a decent article, or maybe they got cold feet. I don't blame or judge them at all - how many times in my life have I had the intention to do something but didn't follow through?  Once, maybe twice 😉 (don't worry if you don't...

Welcoming MANY New Bloggers!

Stephane Boucher October 27, 20153 comments

The response to the latest call for bloggers has been amazing and I am very grateful.

In this post I present to you the individuals who, so far (I am still receiving applications at an impressive rate and will update this page as more bloggers are added),  have been given access to the blogging interface.  I am very pleased with the positive response and I think the near future will see the publication of many great articles, given the quality of the...

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,

DSPRelated and EmbeddedRelated now on Facebook & I will be at EE Live!

Stephane Boucher February 27, 20148 comments

I have two news to share with you today.

The first one is that I finally created Facebook pages for and EmbeddedRelated (DSPRelated page - EmbeddedRelated page). For a long time I didn't feel that this was something that was needed, but it seems that these days more and more people are using their Facebook account to stay updated with their favorite websites. In any event, if you have a Facebook account, I would greatly appreciate if you could use the next 5 seconds to "like"...

Free Embedded Systems Books

Stephane Boucher May 28, 2013

Following the success of the Collaborative Writing Experiment: What are your favorite Embedded Systems Online Resources? blog post, let's try a second collaborative writing experiment.  This time, let's work on a file that will list the best embedded systems books that are available online for free.  I am not talking about books that are illegally made available for download by pirates, but books that are made available online by authors and/or publishers.

Do you know of...