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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...


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...

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: 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


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...


UML Statechart tip: Handling errors when entering a state

Matthew Eshleman March 8, 20204 comments

This is my second post with advice and tips on designing software with UML statecharts. My first entry is here.

It has been nearly 20 years since I first studied UML statecharts. Since that initial exposure (thank you Samek!), I have applied event driven active object statechart designs to numerous projects [3]. Nothing has abated my preference for this pattern in my firmware and embedded software projects. Through the years I have taken note of a handful of common challenges when...


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...


Massive Open Online Courses ( Transforming education )

Jayaraman Kiruthi Vasan October 10, 20124 comments

Emerging trends in online education have opened up unforeseen learning opportunities for aspiring students. Eminent instructors from the best names in the industry such as Stanford, MIT and Harvard provide several courses with video lectures online.

Named MOOCs,  Massive Open Online courses are accelerating the learning process in a radical manner.  Online universities like Coursera, edX, Udacity, Khan Academy and Udemy offer courses which are professionally relevant.


Jumping from MCUs to FPGAs - 5 things you need to know

Duane Benson July 31, 2023

Are you a microcontroller expert beckoned by the siren song of the FPGA? Not long ago, that was me. FPGA-expert friends of mine regularly extolled the virtues of these mysterious components and I wanted in. When I made the leap, I found a world seemingly very familiar, but in reality, vastly different. I found that my years of C programming and microcontroller use often gave pre preconceived interpretations of FPGA resource material which resulted in eye-roll class mistakes in my code. I’ve gleaned five things of vital importance to help you make that transition faster than I did.


A Beginner's Guide to Embedded Systems

Manasi Rajan December 6, 2022

I was in my Junior year of college when I first learned about embedded systems. Sure, I’d heard about this mystical world of sensors and IoT, the same way I’d heard about thermonuclear astrophysics; But, the phrase “embedded systems” didn’t really mean anything to me. This, here, is a guide for people like teenage me. We’re going to learn what an embedded system actually is, and why working on embedded software is the coolest thing you could ever do!

What's an embedded...

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...


Five ‘80s Movies that Inspired Me to Become an Engineer

Jacob Beningo July 20, 20227 comments

Five ‘80s Movies that Inspired Me to Become an Engineer

Movies and pop culture can incredibly impact society, particularly children. However, we never really know what conversation, demonstration, or movie could inspire someone to become an engineer. Recently in the Beningo house, we ran out of the film to watch for movie night. In desperation, I decided to find great movies from my childhood in the 80s. To my surprise, I realized how influential several of these films inspired me to...


C to C++: Templates and Generics – Supercharging Type Flexibility

Jacob Beningo March 24, 20242 comments

"C to C++: Templates and Generics – Supercharging Type Flexibility" illuminates the rigidity of C when managing multiple types and the confusion of code replication or macro complexity. In contrast, C++ offers templates, acting as type-agnostic blueprints for classes and functions, which allows for the creation of versatile and reusable code without redundancy. By using templates, developers can define operations like add once and apply them to any data type, simplifying codebases significantly. Generics further this concept, enabling a single code structure to handle diverse data types efficiently—a boon for embedded systems where operations must be performed on varying data, yet code efficiency is critical due to resource limitations. The blog walks through practical applications, showcasing how templates streamline processes and ensure type safety with static_assert, all while weighing the pros and cons of their use in embedded software, advocating for careful practice to harness their full potential.


A brief overview of flight control software

Igor Mišić May 3, 20193 comments

It has been a long time since the first drones appeared. If you are interested in such a topic, you may be confused about how and where to jump in. Since I went through the same phase, I'd like to write my findings here and help others.

For this blog post, I've created chart and table with all open source flight control programs I've been able to find.

The chart shows the course of development of the existing software. It is separated in years and you can see when which project...


Tenderfoot: Introduction to Magic (Numbers that is...)

Matthew Eshleman May 10, 20173 comments

Once upon a time, while participating in a source code review, I stumbled across the following C code in a header file:

struct Foo { //various structure fields char string_buffer[45+3]; //buffer requires about 45 bytes };

My right eyebrow raised, I took a note, and continued with the code review, only to later stumble into this line of code in the body of a C function:

char * temp_string_buffer = (char*) malloc(45+3);

Again, I took a note on this function, and continued...