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.

Understanding RS-485 passive fail-safe biasing

Design successful fail-safe biasing networks with these equations for calculating the resistor values and the maximum possible bus loading caused by transceivers for single and dual fail-safe terminations. Read More...

Life as a system designer in 2076

With AI backing up the engineer, design becomes simply a matter of intent. Read More...

Prototype to Production: Hello World

Time for that first program in the prototype-to-production project. Read More...

Discussion of the IoT must stratify

The term IoT is too encompassing for discussions about its many markets. Read More...

The homes of EDN

Take a tour of EDN's office locations through the years, including the home of the print collection. 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...

Answering the build-or-buy firmware conundrum

The build-or-buy firmware decision can have a substantial impact on project success, so make it carefully. Read More...

Oscilloscopes integrate with education

The TBS2000 oscilloscopes from Tektronix let educators teach directly on the instrument through Wi-Fi, Ethernet, or USB connections. Read More...

5 firmware criteria in MCU selection

Selecting a microcontroller is about more than its hardware specs these days. Read More...

Prototype to Production: Using industrial sensors

Consumer sensors are designed with microcontrollers in mind, but industrial sensors can pose interface challenges. Read More...

1982 editorial about computer security gets it right

Review a 1982 editorial about computer security, and contemplate the future 60 years from now as artificial technology combines with the Internet of Things. Read More...

MAX232: The classic IC lives on since 1988

Maxim Integrated introduced the MAX232, a single 5V powered RS-232 line driver and receiver in 1988 and it's still used in new designs today. Read More...

Packaging advances needed to ensure IoT growth

Integrating sensors, logic, and RF into a single chip is a difficult challenge, but combining them in a single package is practical. Read More...

With little fanfare, EDN covers Microsoft Windows

A small product announcement in 1985 would ultimately change computing and engineering tools, but who knew it then? Read More...

The tyranny of numbers: Sensors in the next 60 years

Getting beyond the trillion-sensor-node IoT will take a revolution in materials application and system architecture, much the same way as Jack Kilby started the semiconductor IC era almost 60 years ago. 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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Oscilloscopes integrate with education

The TBS2000 oscilloscopes from Tektronix let educators teach directly on the instrument through Wi-Fi, Ethernet, or USB connections. Read More...

Secure chip works with Amazon Web Services

The Microchip AWS Zero Touch Secure Provisioning Kit helps designers develop IoT devices that comply with new AWS security regulations. Read More...

USB Type-C PD dock needs little room

The TIDA-01243 reference design from TI serves up a multiport USB Type-C and Power Delivery (PD) minidock that can cut solution size in half. Read More...

Development chassis targets Open VPX

Pixus Technologies offers the VPXD4500, a 4U high, 19-in. wide five-slot chassis for the development and testing of 3U VPX and OpenVPX boards. Read More...

Stereo audio chips leverage Bluetooth V4.2

Microchip’s IS206X family of audio SoC devices and modules is qualified for Bluetooth V4.2 with EDR (Enhanced Data Rate) links. Read More...

USB 3.0 memory sticks are IP68-sealed

Ruggedized USB 3.0 flash drives from Fischer are not only up to five times faster than previous versions, but also smaller and lighter. 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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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...

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...

>> SEE ALL

Prototype to Production: Hello World

Time for that first program in the prototype-to-production project. Read More...

Discussion of the IoT must stratify

The term IoT is too encompassing for discussions about its many markets. Read More...

The homes of EDN

Take a tour of EDN's office locations through the years, including the home of the print collection. Read More...

Answering the build-or-buy firmware conundrum

The build-or-buy firmware decision can have a substantial impact on project success, so make it carefully. Read More...

Life as a system designer in 2076

With AI backing up the engineer, design becomes simply a matter of intent. Read More...

5 firmware criteria in MCU selection

Selecting a microcontroller is about more than its hardware specs these days. Read More...

Prototype to Production: Using industrial sensors

Consumer sensors are designed with microcontrollers in mind, but industrial sensors can pose interface challenges. Read More...

1982 editorial about computer security gets it right

Review a 1982 editorial about computer security, and contemplate the future 60 years from now as artificial technology combines with the Internet of Things. Read More...

MAX232: The classic IC lives on since 1988

Maxim Integrated introduced the MAX232, a single 5V powered RS-232 line driver and receiver in 1988 and it's still used in new designs today. Read More...

Packaging advances needed to ensure IoT growth

Integrating sensors, logic, and RF into a single chip is a difficult challenge, but combining them in a single package is practical. Read More...

>> SEE ALL

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