Systems Design

Richard Quinnell
Technical 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.

Get a hands-on tutorial in FPGA design at ESC Silicon Valley

Attendees will first create a Verilog representation of an LFSR, and then upload this (and an 8-bit MCU) into an FPGA-based Arduino-compatible development board. Read More...

Make SoCs flexible with embedded FPGA

Embedding an FPGA array can add vital flexibility to SoC designs. Read More...

ESC Silicon Valley: Be creative by goofing off

At the Dec. 8 keynote address, Ransom Stephens will explain how to use your brain to solve bigger problems more effectively than you do now. Goofing off is an important part. Read More...

Prodigiously sensing devkit also enables IoT/cloud

This devboard senses everything but the kitchen sink, wirelessly connects, and comes with lots of example software. Read More...

Changing roles for embedded developers

With platforms, system design is becoming much less about technical detail and more about integration. Read More...

Mission to Pluto: An interview with New Horizons' “MOM”

I had a recent interview with Alice Bowman, NASA’s New Horizons Mission Operations Manager, and posed what I thought might be some interesting questions for our EDN audience regarding the New Horizons spacecraft. Read More...

Hands-on with BLE, apps, and ARMduino: The Simblee

RF Digital's Simblee (Simple BLE) offers a compelling and unique way to develop Bluetooth-enabled embedded systems alongside instantly customizable companion apps. Read More...

Plug and play mesh IoT sensor system unveiled

The Njord sensor module is part of a system that works straight out of the box. Read More...

Invisible controls you can touch

A new interface system generates virtual controls in mid-air, that you can actually feel. Read More...

Add waveforms to your PXI system

Spectrum Instrumentation's 1, 2, and 4-channel AWGs let you add analog signals to an automated test system to simulate actual conditions. Read More...

High-voltage PXI oscilloscope lets you create your own instruments

The PXIe-5164 from National Instruments adds FPGA technology to let you program your own instrument after digitizing signals. It also supports a wide range of voltage inputs. Read More...

Digital oscilloscopes: When things go wrong

Learn how to avoid aliasing, false modulation, and false overshoot by properly using your oscilloscope settings. Read More...

Thermal design: Get the heat out of the electronics

Whether you are designing an LED lamp or an electric drag racer, know your options and the need to get the heat out of the electronics. Read More...

Distributed measurements unlock the future of design

Distributed physical measurements are the key to working with new materials and state-of-the-art mechanical design. Read More...

Marketers talk funnier than ever

As we keep coming up with new buzzwords, marketers keep misusing the English language. Read More...

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Line receiver provides self test

Use a quad differential comparator to provide adequate self-test for systems using line receivers for differential input signals. Read More...

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...

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PXIe modules switch signals from DC to microwave

The SentinelEX series from Ametek VTI Instruments covers general-purpose switching, matrices, and RF/microwave switching in multiple switch configurations. Read More...

Hands-on with BLE, apps, and ARMduino: The Simblee

RF Digital's Simblee (Simple BLE) offers a compelling and unique way to develop Bluetooth-enabled embedded systems alongside instantly customizable companion apps. Read More...

RF MEMS switch passes 14 GHz signals

The ADGM1304 quad RF MEMS switch from Analog Devices could replace electromechanical RF switches, improving reliability and saving board space. Read More...

Add waveforms to your PXI system

Spectrum Instrumentation's 1, 2, and 4-channel AWGs let you add analog signals to an automated test system to simulate actual conditions. Read More...

High-voltage PXI oscilloscope lets you create your own instruments

The PXIe-5164 from National Instruments adds FPGA technology to let you program your own instrument after digitizing signals. It also supports a wide range of voltage inputs. Read More...

System design comes to Xpedition

Mentor joins the system-design club with its Xpedition offering. Read More...

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Myo armband: Wearables design focuses on packaging

Thalmic Labs’ Myo gesture-control armband combines electromyography with IMUs and exposes difficulty of implementing a true wearable. Read More...

Teardown: Behind the ESC collector's badge

The flashy networked attendee badge appearing at this year's ESC Boston gets a close look by EDN editor Rich Quinnell. Read More...

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: 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: 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: 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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Make SoCs flexible with embedded FPGA

Embedding an FPGA array can add vital flexibility to SoC designs. Read More...

Distributed measurements unlock the future of design

Distributed physical measurements are the key to working with new materials and state-of-the-art mechanical design. Read More...

Providing USB Type-C connectivity – What you need to know

The reversible cable of USB Type-C needs smart interfaces, but the right chips are available. Read More...

Engineering the future of space exploration

The days of disposal launchers may be approaching an end as a new group of entrepreneurial space companies seek to apply Silicon Valley innovation and scaling to human exploration of the solar system. Read More...

Look Inside Fiber Optic Sensing

Improvements in fiber optic sensing technology can help engineers solve complex system sensing problems. Read More...

Loop tuning controls transient response in point of load power modules

To restore responsiveness when adding load capacitance to POL power modules, re-tune the control loop. Read More...

Partial and Pretended Networking Reduces CAN Power Consumption

Saving power by turning off subsystems is a challenge for CAN networks, until you redefine the network a little. Read More...

Data choices help compress 8051 code

The limited memory resources of 8-bit architectures like the popular 8051 are often seen as preventing programming them in C, but the right choices in the type and location of data can shrink C code to better fit. Read More...

Validate USB host designs with a bare metal driver

When implementing a USB hub you'll need to validate the design. Creating a bare metal driver for handling a Flash drive can help. Read More...

Xenon death flash for the Raspberry Pi 2

A problem with the power supply chip on the Raspberry Pi 2 serves as a good reminder to choose parts for your board carefully. Read More...

Memory testing: A quick look

RAM isn't always 100% reliable. Here are some basics about test methods to start you thinking. Read More...

Hands-on review Synergy S7 starter kit – First look

Jacob gets his hands on a Synergy starter kit to see what all the excitement is about. Read More...

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Get a hands-on tutorial in FPGA design at ESC Silicon Valley

Attendees will first create a Verilog representation of an LFSR, and then upload this (and an 8-bit MCU) into an FPGA-based Arduino-compatible development board. Read More...

Changing roles for embedded developers

With platforms, system design is becoming much less about technical detail and more about integration. Read More...

Hands-on with BLE, apps, and ARMduino: The Simblee

RF Digital's Simblee (Simple BLE) offers a compelling and unique way to develop Bluetooth-enabled embedded systems alongside instantly customizable companion apps. Read More...

Plug and play mesh IoT sensor system unveiled

The Njord sensor module is part of a system that works straight out of the box. Read More...

Invisible controls you can touch

A new interface system generates virtual controls in mid-air, that you can actually feel. Read More...

Future engineers: It's not just about circuits and code

Today's engineering students want to build systems that will make life better for people. They want their work to make a difference, say professors at WPI. Read More...

Why is everything junk? (Heat-pump edition)

No matter how wonderful today's high-technology products seem to be, they're almost invariably hobbled by design faults. I ponder why that might be, and discuss a specific product. Read More...

Creating JARVIS - Smart microphones enabling the digital butler

Smart microphones underpin advances in voice interfaces as the Amazon Echo shows us that the public is ready for this technology. Read More...

Thermocouple physics: Even Jim Williams got it wrong

So many engineers have incorrectly written about how thermocouple work. Jim Williams was among them in an EDN article published in 1988. Read More...

Prototype to production: Connecting to the cloud

Adding internet connectivity to our IoT device design is pretty simple, if you're careful. Read More...

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