Because of its inherent benefits including decreases to development times and increases in component compatibility, COTS (commercial-off-the-shelf) has been adopted by a vast number of industries, including the aerospace, military and space exploration markets. Most embedded systems within aerospace and military applications perform a function in some way related to mission-critical operation of the larger system and/or platform, making performance, reliability and functionality imperative to the design and manufacture of the embedded computing system. These systems must therefore operate flawlessly in very specific and defined ways while exposed to extreme environments, including high shock and vibration resistance, wide, dynamic temperature ranges, high humidity (or immersion), and the absolute vacuum of deep space.
In today’s world, wireless networks are becoming more ubiquitous, and they are implemented using a variety of protocols that are specifically designed for radio frequency systems. Some protocols that are in use are proprietary to individual vendors, while others are industry standards. Recently, a lot of attention has been given to 802.15.4 and ZigBee, but there is still some ambiguity as to what is different about 802.15.4 and ZigBee and what kind of networks or systems would benefit from these particular protocols.
If you got a head start on your holiday shopping in the days before Thanksgiving, you were greeted at Amazon.com with a message by founder and CEO Jeff Bezos announcing the release of Kindle, the company’s handheld e-book reading device. I have to admit, when a colleague first told me about Kindle, I reacted with a great big yawn.
Jon Titus provides tips aimed at helping embedded-systems designers save power. Areas covered are peripherals, power sources, memory and more.
In the rush to get a product out the door, programmers often ignore code maintenance — a key aspect of application development. For applications with short lives, this rush may not pose a significant problem because once deployed, no one will touch the code again. Embedded systems applications, however, may have lives that span decades, and early coding mistakes can result in significant bug-fix and update costs later on.
As I watched the evening news on Thanksgiving weekend, I was struck by how much politics and the upcoming Presidential race is interwoven with the way Americans are celebrating the holiday this year. Even as lawn signs continue to dot every landscape in the wake of Election Day 2007 (everyone will take down all those signs they put up, right?)...
New power regulations are redefining the meaning of efficiency in power supply design. Driven by increasing demand for electrical power worldwide, government agencies and industry groups are adopting new environmental standards that are designed to reduce power consumption by improving power efficiency. In the U.S. for example, the Department of Energy (DoE) and Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Energy Star program grants certification to electronics devices that meet a range of standards for power consumption. More recently, the State of California through the California Energy Commission (CEC) has implemented a mandatory program to implement more stringent power efficiency standards for external power supplies and consumer audio and video equipment sold in California.
Like many inexpensive desktop PCs, my Dell Dimension C521 lacks a serial port. But, don't write off serial communications which will continue to play important roles in industrial controls, point-of-sale terminals and other equipment. USB and Ethernet have a place, but simple serial I/O still solves a lot of problems.
For simple static-DC source-and-measure tests, familiar instruments such as power supplies, scopes, voltmeters and function generators work well. Dynamic DC-bias tests, though, involve sequencing and sourcing voltage and current, as well as making measurements. These bias tests require complex interactions among traditional instruments, and they can create setup and configuration challenges.
You found me! And I do hope that the journey to the back of the magazine was productive. It’s not often that someone has the luxury of a forum such as this column to tell a very large number of people that they are moving on but, as luck and timing have it, I do have this opportunity and I would like to take just a brief amount of your time to bid farewell to the readers of ECN as I leave my position as editor-in-chief.
Solid state lighting offers greater energy efficiency, as well as what are now still long-term cost benefits. Here, industry experts comment on the biggest challenges in the design and manufacturing of LED illumination and what is needed to make the widespread adoption of LED illumination by design engineers a reality. Follow the links to read the complete commentary.
Power factor is the ratio of the actual power used to the apparent (reactive) power that a piece of equipment draws from the alternating current (AC) line. The reactance of large capacitors or inductors can cause the apparent power drawn from the line to exceed the actual power used, resulting in low power factor (PF). The lower the PF, the more energy is lost along the AC power line. The result is higher electricity bills for the utility customer. That lost energy also lowers the capacity of the utility distribution system.
Most likely you know a bit about the Controller Area Network, also called CAN or CAN bus, developed for communications between equipment in vehicles. The CAN has spread into embedded systems, too, but unlike chip-to-chip I2C or SPI connections, CAN communications may occur between cards and systems over a bus that can extend from 10's to 100's of meters. (The ISO-11519 and ISO-11898 standards covers CAN protocols and physical-layer specifications.)
My first experience with a relay came about when a friend found a radiosonde -- a small balloon-borne weather instrument -- in the woods behind his house. My friend Ben wanted the parachute, so I got the electronics. As a kid of 11 or 12, the circuitry didn't mean much, but it included a simple relay I experimented with.
Electrostatic discharge (ESD) occurs when objects -- including people, furniture, machines, integrated circuits or electrical cables -- become charged and discharged. Electrostatic charging brings objects to surprisingly high potentials of many thousands of volts in ordinary home or office environments. ESD produces currents which can have rise times less than a nanosecond, peak currents of dozens of Amps and durations that can last from tens to hundreds of nanoseconds. Unless ESD robustness is included during design, these current levels can damage electrical components and upset or damage electrical systems from cell phones to computers.