Open-Source Licenses Made Easy with Buildroot and Yocto for Embedded Linux

George Emad October 2, 2023

In this article I will try to explain what are the copyrights/copyleft, what are the popular opensource software licenses, and how to make sure that your Embedded Linux system complies with them using popular build systems ; Buildroot or YOCTO projec

There are 10 kinds of people in the world

Colin Walls September 27, 2023

It is useful, in embedded software, to be able to specify values in binary. The C language lacks this facility. In this blog we look at how to fix that.

Getting Started With Zephyr: Devicetree Overlays

Mohammed Billoo September 25, 2023

In this blog post, I show how the Devicetree overlay is a valuable construct in The Zephyr Project RTOS. Overlays allow embedded software engineers to override the default pin configuration specified in Zephyr for a particular board. In this blog post, I use I2C as an example. Specifically, I showed the default I2C pins used for the nRF52840 development kit in the nominal Zephyr Devicetree. Then, I demonstrated how an overlay can be used to override this pin configuration and the final result.

Embedded Developers, Ditch Your IDEs – Here’s Why!

Amar Mahmutbegovic September 25, 2023

Ditching your Integrated Development Environment (IDE) temporarily can be a transformative learning experience in embedded development. This post invites you to explore the underpinnings of IDEs by delving into alternative tools and processes like Makefile, CMake, Vim, GDB, and OpenOCD. Understanding these tools can demystify the background operations of IDEs, revealing the intricacies of compiling, linking, and debugging. This journey into the “under the hood” aspects of development is not just about learning new tools, but also about gaining a deeper appreciation for the convenience and efficiency that IDEs provide. By stepping out of your comfort zone and experimenting with these alternatives, you can sharpen your skills, enhance your knowledge, and possibly discover a more tailored and streamlined development experience. Whether you're a novice or a seasoned developer, this exploration promises insights and revelations that can elevate your embedded development journey.

C to C++: Using Abstract Interfaces to Create Hardware Abstraction Layers (HAL)

Jacob Beningo September 21, 20235 comments

In C to C++, we've been exploring how to transition from a C developer to a C++ developer when working in embedded system. In this post, we will explore how to leverage classes to create hardware abstraction layers (HAL). You'll learn about the various inheritance mechanisms, what an virtual function is, and how to create an abstract class.

The Backstreet Consultant

Ido Gendel September 18, 2023

In the uncharted land between Arduino-wielding kids and qualified electronics engineers emerged an entirely new market for embedded work. In this article, based on my personal experience and observations, I will attempt to outline this young market, the forces operating within it, and the kinds of people involved.

A short history

Up until fifteen years ago, give or take, embedded design was done exclusively by trained professionals: not just because of the required technical know-how, but also...

Are We Shooting Ourselves in the Foot with Stack Overflow?

Miro Samek September 8, 20234 comments

Most traditional, beaten-path memory layouts allocate the stack space above the data sections in RAM, even though the stack grows “down” (towards the lower memory addresses) in most embedded processors. This arrangement puts your program data in the path of destruction of a stack overflow. In other words, you violate the first Gun Safety Rule (ALWAYS keep the gun pointed in a safe direction!) and you end up shooting yourself in the foot. This article shows how to locate the stack at the BEGINNING of RAM and thus point it in the "safe" direction.

nRF5 to nRF Connect SDK migration via DFU over BLE

Mike Voytovich September 7, 20232 comments

This writeup contains some notes on how I was able to migrate one of my clients projects based on the nRF5 SDK, to nRF Connect SDK (NCS) based firmware, via a DFU to devices in the field over BLE.

FPGA skills for the modern world

GLENN Kirilow September 4, 2023

With the ever increasing number of applications involving video processing, AI or edge computing the appetite for suitably skilled FPGA Engineers has never been higher from the market which is expected to grow to $15 billion USD by 2027!

In terms of industries opportunities can be typically found within:

  • Automotive
  • Aerospace
  • Defense
  • Data Processing

However this list is certainly not exhaustive as any application requiring algorithms which can leverage from highly parallel and...

Who needs source code?

Colin Walls August 31, 2023

Many developers feel that the supplying source code is essential for licensed software components. There are other perspectives, including the possibility of it being an actual disadvantage. Even the definition of source code has some vagueness.

Introduction to Microcontrollers - Beginnings

Mike Silva August 20, 201314 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, 201342 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,

VHDL tutorial - A practical example - part 3 - VHDL testbench

Gene Breniman June 25, 20118 comments

In part 1 of this series we focused on the hardware design, including some of the VHDL definitions of the I/O characteristics of the CPLD part.  In part 2, we described the VHDL logic of the CPLD for this design.  In part 3, we will show the entire VHDL design and the associated tests used to prove that we have, in fact, designed what we started out to design.

First, let's pull all of the pieces of the prior design together into a...

Analyzing the Linker Map file with a little help from the ELF and the DWARF

Govind Mukundan December 27, 201522 comments

When you're writing firmware, there always comes a time when you need to check the resources consumed by your efforts - perhaps because you're running out of RAM or Flash or you want to optimize something. The map file generated by your linker is a useful tool to aid in the resource analysis. I wanted to filter and sort the data generated in an interactive way so I wrote a C# WinForms application that reads the data from the map and presents it in a list view (using the awesome

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...

How FPGAs work, and why you'll buy one

Yossi Kreinin June 20, 201315 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...

Understanding and Preventing Overflow (I Had Too Much to Add Last Night)

Jason Sachs December 4, 2013

Happy Thanksgiving! Maybe the memory of eating too much turkey is fresh in your mind. If so, this would be a good time to talk about overflow.

In the world of floating-point arithmetic, overflow is possible but not particularly common. You can get it when numbers become too large; IEEE double-precision floating-point numbers support a range of just under 21024, and if you go beyond that you have problems:

for k in [10, 100, 1000, 1020, 1023, 1023.9, 1023.9999, 1024]: try: ...

How to Read a Power MOSFET Datasheet

Jason Sachs September 15, 201514 comments

One of my pet peeves is when my fellow engineers misinterpret component datasheets. This happened a few times recently in separate instances, all involving power MOSFETs. So it’s time for me to get on my soapbox. Listen up!

I was going to post an article on how to read component datasheets in general. But MOSFETs are a good place to start, and are a little more specific. I’m not the first person to write something about how to read datasheets; here are some other good...

Adventures in Signal Processing with Python

Jason Sachs June 23, 201311 comments

Author’s note: This article was originally called Adventures in Signal Processing with Python (MATLAB? We don’t need no stinkin' MATLAB!) — the allusion to The Treasure of the Sierra Madre has been removed, in deference to being a good neighbor to The MathWorks. While I don’t make it a secret of my dislike of many aspects of MATLAB — which I mention later in this article — I do hope they can improve their software and reduce the price. Please note this...

MSP430 Launchpad Tutorial - Part 1 - Basics

Enrico Garante June 14, 201320 comments

TI's LaunchPad is a complete MSP430 development environment: all you have to do is download and install CCS IDE (login required), connect your G2231-ready LaunchPad to your computer with the included mini-usb cable, and you are ready to code!

Texas Instrument MSP430 LaunchPad

So, let's see how to start a new project in Code Composer Studio. This IDE is derived from Eclipse, so if you used it before you shouldn't have much problems.

We'll write a simple program that will...