Systems Design

Stephen Evanczuk
Contributing Editor
A 50,000-foot view of system technological advancements, design tips and news that will give designers solid technical advice and information for robust system-level designs. This site also covers the latest board-level embedded hardware, development tools, and related software.

When more equals less in wireless

A new technology could mean IoT devices in your home, regardless of their locations, could be singlehandedly served by a 900 MHz beacon coming from your router. Read More...

Bandwidth 101

Every AC signal has limitations placed on it because of frequency. See how. Read More...

Don't ship merely functional systems

There is a disturbing trend in embedded development of shipping functional, but not production-ready, systems. Read More...

IoT module promises WiFi-LoRa-BLE triple play

Some want BLE, some want WiFi, and LoRa is interesting as well. Why not have all three? Read More...

10 Tips On Engineering Notebooks

Whether paper or electronic, here are some ideas for getting the most out of your engineering notebook. Read More...

Power management can cause latchup in CMOS chips

Cycling power with inputs applied can blow up your design. Read More...

Minimize measurement errors in RTD circuits

Use these circuits to add an RTD temperature sensor in front of a digitizer and minimize errors through hardware and software. Read More...

Spice up your Pi for IoT development

You can get a Raspberry Pi up and running as an IoT device in minutes with Cayenne. Hot stuff! Read More...

Accsensorizing the world securely and scalably: Q&A with Electric Imp’s Hugo Fiennes

CEO Hugo Fiennes explains how Electric Imp got on the front lines of industrial IoT implementation, and what designers need to look for in an IoT sensor-to-cloud connection. Read More...

Find the settings and open the eyes

OptimEye from SiSoft reduces the laborious task of optimizing serial transmitters and receivers. Read More...

1000 sensors, one line, using optical fiber

Optical fibers can act as sensors all along their length, with the right illumination and signal processing. Read More...

New test products at DesignCon 2016

Test & measurement is a significant part of DesignCon. Here are some new products, with live video demonstrations from the exhibit hall. Read More...

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AVR takes under 1µs to process quadrature encoder

A good example of tight interrupt coding to interface to a quadrature encoder. Read More...

Isolated USB-to-UART converter builds in 20 minutes for $20

This Design Idea describes a simple project that embedded developers will love for keeping their computers safe from rogue USB devices. Read More...

Software PLL syncs to line using moving-average filter

A software PLL with a jitter attenuator lends itself to AC-line filtering and many other applications. Read More...

Circuit gates pulse train without truncating

This Design Idea accomplishes asynchronous gating without the worry of shortened pulses. Read More...

3 pins, 3 LEDs, 3 buttons

This LED multiplexing scheme allows for switches in the matrix too. Read More...

Facilitate oscilloscope debug of small microcontroller systems

A probe-to-the-metal approach is often the best way to debug a small µC system, and here’s some code to help out. Read More...

LabVIEW real-time seismic alert system

National Instrument’s LabVIEW has uses beyond instrument control, as demonstrated by this Web app. Read More...

Zener level-shifter drives high-side switch

Simplify a high-side driver by replacing a transistor with a Zener diode. Read More...

Replace a rotary switch with a potentiometer

Why use an expensive rotary switch with your microcontroller when you can use a cheap pot instead? Read More...

One wire brings power & data to LCD module

If you need to connect a small remote LCD display, or your µC has run out of I/O pins, here’s a good, cheap solution. Read More...

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Adlink extends SMARC and Qseven offerings

Adlink offers the LEC-BW SMARC and Q7-BW Qseven COMs (computer-on-modules) powered by Intel Pentium and Celeron N3000 SOCs. Read More...

Panasonic teams with Facebook for optical data archiver

Jointly developed with Facebook, Panasonic’s freeze-ray is an optical disc-based data-archive system intended for large-scale cold storage. Read More...

CAN I/O modules enable on-vehicle networking

Janus-MM-LP isolated CAN I/O modules from Diamond Systems offer a choice of PC/104-Plus (PCI+ISA) and PC/104 (ISA only) bus configurations. Read More...

Mini displacement sensors need little room

Inelta IZAL series inductive displacement sensors fit into highly confined spaces for use in medical, industrial, and military applications. Read More...

Accelerometers tout embedded intelligence

Bosch Sensortec’s BMA422 and BMA455 intelligent three-axis accelerometers improve user experience in smart phones and wearable devices. Read More...

DACs offer integrated EEPROM option

MCP48FEBXX 8-bit, 10-bit, and 12-bit DACs from Microchip provide integrated EEPROM, which enables them to save DAC settings at power-down. Read More...

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Teardown Preview: Inside the Apple iPhone 5

Until we can lay our hands on a real iPhone 5 and do a real teardown, let's take a look at what others are saying and render an opinion on the reliability of their comments. Read More...

Teardown: High-voltage Li-ion battery stack management - the drive for safe power

At the heart of the Chevrolet Volt, a sophisticated Li-ion battery stack management system ensures the safety and reliability of a multi-cell Li-ion battery stack capable of delivering power on demand to the Chevy Volt drive system. Read More...

Teardown: iPhone 5s

Go inside the iPhone 5s to see the tech, the parts, what's better, and what's the same, as iFixit tears it down. Read More...

Teardown: The power inverter - from sunlight to power grid

This teardown of a solar inverter card traces the path of harvested DC power from the photovoltaic panel, through boost conversion, power inverter and massive filtering of the created AC power signal required by the power grid. Surrounded by monitoring and microcontroller magic along with safety standard adherence, we uncover the mysteries of solar energy harvesting electronics. Read More...

Teardown: Analog rules over digital in noise-canceling headphones

Dig deeper into these headphones that deliver decent audio at relatively low cost and better yet, effective active noise reduction. Read More...

A closer look at LSI’s MegaRAID SAS 9260CV-4i controller

The MegaRAID controller's innovative use of CacheVault technology solves the problem of system reliability during power outages with a greener solution that uses existing power instead of batteries. Read More...

Integration amassed: analyzing a NAS

This hands-on project showcases the second generation of Western Digital's My Book World Edition NAS (network-attached storage) device, so named because it is potentially accessible by a user from anywhere in the world. Read More...

Tiny computer holds embedded treasure

The Waysmall series from Gumstix offers designers a line of Linux-based computer systems that easily fit into the palm of your hand. Housed in an 83×36×15-mm plastic case, these miniature systems provide XScale processing power along with an MMC (MultiMedia Card) slot, two serial ports, one USB client port, a power interface, and general-purpose I/O pins. Read More...

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1000 sensors, one line, using optical fiber

Optical fibers can act as sensors all along their length, with the right illumination and signal processing. Read More...

Avoid these common MEMS failure mechanisms

MEMS adoption is on the rise, and knowing how they might fail is the first step in ensuring their reliability in a design. Read More...

Test challenges for PAM4 signals

PAM4 encoding is a fairly complex modulation scheme, so it should be no surprise that it presents some test and measurement challenges. Read More...

PAM4 test setups vary with applications

This article examines some of the ways PAM4 is finding application in the real world and what test and measurement setups might look like for those applications. Read More...

The fundamentals of PAM4

A modulation scheme that's gaining favor in many quarters is PAM4, and in this post we'll look at the basics of PAM4 before turning to the test and analysis challenges it poses. Read More...

Resolve embedded USB interoperability challenges

Embedded applications of USB are on the rise, but because teams are each implementing their own embedded solutions, interoperability can become an issue. Here are some issues and methods developers of an embedded USB host need to consider. Read More...

Profiles in Design: Pat Byrne, Tektronix

"Engineering is practical problem solving in service of great breakthroughs."–Pat Byrne, keynote speaker at DesignCon 2016 shares his thoughts on engineering. Read More...

Secure updates for FPGA-based systems

Here are some things you can do to ensure a secure, reliable, and safe remote update to an FPGA-based embedded system. Read More...

Use frameworks to secure IoT devices

A comprehensive security framework can provide enterprise-level security in small IoT devices. Read More...

Boost both compute and power density by designing in the negative space

To boost power as processing density grows, start using negative space. Read More...

Embedded security taking root

Embedded systems that add connectivity face many challenges, of which the need for security is both vital and misunderstood. But vendors and developers have been getting the message and solutions are appearing in greater numbers, from software libraries to MCUs with a secure root of trust. Read More...

Embedded systems face design, power, security challenges

While marketers and financiers may be salivating over the prospects for revenue, what does the growth in demand for embedded systems mean for the designer? Read More...

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When more equals less in wireless

A new technology could mean IoT devices in your home, regardless of their locations, could be singlehandedly served by a 900 MHz beacon coming from your router. Read More...

Don't ship merely functional systems

There is a disturbing trend in embedded development of shipping functional, but not production-ready, systems. Read More...

Math and logic in the Venus flytrap

Perhaps mankind should take some more lessons from the simplicity of nature. Read More...

IoT module promises WiFi-LoRa-BLE triple play

Some want BLE, some want WiFi, and LoRa is interesting as well. Why not have all three? Read More...

One chip, wondrous variety

The Cypress PSoC family has a new member, offering mind-boggling flexibility and an M0 core. Read More...

10 Tips On Engineering Notebooks

Whether paper or electronic, here are some ideas for getting the most out of your engineering notebook. Read More...

Spice up your Pi for IoT development

You can get a Raspberry Pi up and running as an IoT device in minutes with Cayenne. Hot stuff! Read More...

DesignCon 2016: 4 unexpected things

DesignCon 2016 was full of the usual high-speed signals, but these were things you wouldn’t expect to see there. Read More...

Clean up reusable software's API

To foster software re-use, make sure its API has these six characteristics. Read More...

To do your best, know your tools

Knowing your development tools well helps you avoid the devil in the details. Read More...

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