Posts Tagged ‘Embedded Systems’

A Case For Electrical and Eelectronic Measurement

In Design Methodologies, Education, Embedded Systems on October 23, 2012 at 12:36 AM

Perhaps one of the least emphasized part of university education in electrical, electronics or computer engineering is related to the field of electrical and electronic measurements. Electrical measurements generally involve measuring current, voltage and resistance. In an embedded systems that has sensors, such measurements can play a critical role. The output of these sensors are converted to either current or voltage before further processing in software or hardware. Not only to test such a system but also to design it properly, it is important to understand the basic concepts of measurement like accuracy, repeatability, resolution, instrument error, instrument noise, capacitance of cables, probe resistance, instrument calibration etc. I had my first real experience with some really tough measurements to be done on an OC192 board for a telecommunication application while trying to debug some issues. I must say that while we place a lot of emphasis on software and hardware design issues, it is also important to consider the measurement side of the story in order to test if  the software and the hardware are working properly. Measurement concepts like instrument calibration, sensitivity and timing are very important in a test set-up. Sometimes, we miss out these things resulting in a mismatch between requirements and implementation.  Keithley’s Getting back to the Basics of Electrical Measurements is  good for introduction as well as for refreshing one’s basic knowledge.

Error Documentation: Why not?

In Design Methodologies, Embedded Systems on August 27, 2012 at 12:48 PM

I am sure that many of you who have used any software tool that throws up errors have spent time (at one point or another) figuring out what those errors mean. Every software tool that is used in any electronics or software design project throws up errors. Be it is GCC, EDA tools etc. One might have used the support channel of the vendor, user forums, websites like stackoverflow etc. to understand the meaning of those errors. A number of times, these errors do not make any immediate sense to the user. There are also many errors which can be because of multiple reasons. Once one gets a list of these reasons, one has to choose the one that is most likely to be applicable to the case at hand. All this reduces productivity. The time spent searching, gathering and analyzing information could have been better utilized focusing on design. Would it not be better if tool vendors also released documentation on the different kinds of errors that their tools might throw up and the associated reasons? I believe that this “ready-reference” would be very beneficial. After all during the development of those tools, the vendors are indeed aware of why a particular error has been thrown up. Why not just compile all that information in one place and help the user? Also, the errors are not always due to problems in the design source files. Sometimes they are there because the tool expects the user to structure the project, tool inputs etc. in a certain way. Given the complexity of modern EDA and other development tools and the time spent in learning them for effective use, it would only be welcomed if vendors offered this extra level of documentation.

Electronics Engineering through Real World Examples

In Design Methodologies, Education on May 5, 2012 at 11:46 PM

How much can you learn from an electronic device/equipment? Quite a lot! If you know its purpose and you have a basic understanding of its intended area of application, you can figure out quite a lot about the internal details of the device by simply looking at it. Once you have managed to crack open the device and expose its internals, you can learn quite a lot about electronic system design. Not only will it enhance your practical knowledge, it will tell you a lot about how actual real world products are designed, manufactured and packaged. Design is not everything in the real world. There are manufacturing and packaging considerations too. A product has to appeal to its intended consumer. The Electronics Engineering Video Blog hosted by David L. Jones is an excellent resource on learning by tearing down devices. As an example, I would recommend to watch the teardown of Zoom H1 Audio Recorder here.

Battery University

In Uncategorized on January 9, 2011 at 11:10 PM

Batteries are one of those components in an embedded system with which embedded designers are least concerned in general. Chip design, application and embedded software programming, GUI design etc. are the hot stuff for designers and engineers, batteries are not!Nevertheless, batteries are the lifelines for all hand held and implantable embedded systems. Their efficiency is paramount for an uninterrupted user experience and device functionality. It is nice to see that battery charger and analyzer company, Cadex has started a website named Battery University which has usable information on portable batteries. The information available can be made use of by both the users and the embedded system designers.