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Ocean Embedded Electronics Systems

Embedded systems for ocean applications comprise small, function-specific computers designed to operate in the rough environment of open water, withstand both pressure and weather, and use as little energy as possible. While the development of such technology has been ongoing for a long time, research and implementation have been stepped up due to the increased demand for ocean-based monitoring and warning systems; this demand results from the 2004 tsunami disaster. Embedded systems are also being developed for tidal power generation purposes as well as improvement of navigation systems aboard ocean-going vessels.

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Using NVRAM in embedded projects

NVRAM(Non-Volatile Random Access Memory) is one of the non-volatile memory selections. This may be an alternative to EEPROM to back up the memory. NVRAM chips can be used for nonvolatile memory storage with many benefits comparing to EEPROM. The main benefit is that NVRAM chips work like static RAM. They are RAM; they contain a lithium cell battery for retaining RAM contents when the main power is switched off. The backup memory can store contents as long as the battery provides power. NVRAM chips don’t require much power; backup can be guaranteed for up to ten years. For instance lets take Dallas NVRAM chip DS1225.

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Embedded Electronics in Medicinal and Biological Sciences

Embedded medical and biological application refers to using technology and computers for observing certain events or generating a response when certain events occur. Embedded points to the fact that such devices are either small or very passive or both, such that the subjects of the observations are not continuously aware of it.

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Green Embedded Electronics

Green electronics is an ideal that refers to environmentally friendly digital devices. Before the idea was brought forward, a considerable percentage of components involved in the manufacturing process of most electronic and digital devices were very toxic. Chemicals such as lead and polyvinyl chloride (PVC) were commonly used to manufacture items like LCD screens and laptop computers. The green electronics initiative is often seen as an extension of its corporate social responsibility (CSR) plan because of its environmental core ideas. The concept is currently being pushed by many environmentalist organizations, most notable of which is Greenpeace International. In August 2006, Greenpeace released a list of the top ten ranked corporations that were actively reducing toxic components from within their products and improving the recycling process for their merchandise. Mobile phone manufacturer Nokia and computer giant Dell share the top spot on the said list. Step One: Reduction of Chemicals The first step in the green electronics initiative is to cut down on manufacturing products’ toxic components. Not only do such chemicals pose a direct threat against the consumers; they also pose a threat to others should the device be disposed of improperly. For example, the toxic substances could leach into…

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Embedded Electronics for the Handicapped

Embedded electronic technology is all around. One may live in a digitized house, ride a car or subway train with embedded sensors and detectors and work using an integrated company network. One can eat lunch in restaurants or play in amusement centres with integrated computers, screens and controllers. Embedded electronics technology is not limited to data transfer, sharing and storage. Many health-care related products also utilize embedded electronics to improve the quality of life. More advanced prosthetic limbs with microprocessors are being developed to bring comfort, stability and balance to be disabled but active members of society.

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Embedded Electronics and CTX Imaging

CTX imaging is an image capture process that integrates the traditional techniques of computed tomography (CT) scanners and X-rays. The system is still in the prototype stage and is far from small (at present, it’s still as big as one whole room), but Dr. Elizabeth Brainerd of Brown University, who heads the project, hopes that it will become commercial by the first decade of the 21st century. Problems with Previous Technology The two origin technologies of CTX imaging, CT scanner, and X-ray, each had their own problems regarding capturing images. CT scans produce high-quality images that can be viewed in three dimensions, at the cost of speed; subjects being observed have to stay still for up to an hour. X-rays use a fluoroscopy method, which takes images in quick succession, but at the cost of quality; images produced by x-rays can be pieced together to create a video, but they’re of much lower quality and are limited to two-dimensional views. New Features of CTX Imaging CTX imaging is revolutionary because it combines the features of CT scanners and X-rays without compromising either capture speed or image quality. Image capture starts with a traditional X-ray of the subject being observed. The…

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Interfacing microcontrollers to external devices

There can be any external device that may be connected(interfaced) to the microcontroller. They may be for control input like buttons, keypads, touch, or information output, e.g., display, sound, motor, relay, and modem. Also, output devices may be further chips like transmitters, frequency generators, memory. Interfacing with chips is not that hard because most of all (especially digital ones) are TTL level compliant that allows connecting chips one to another directly. Otherwise, there are TTL level converter chips if needed – like RS232 to TTL converter MAX232 chip. Let’s take a simple device LED. Probably many of you are thinking that there is nothing easier than connecting LED to the microcontroller. Yes, it’s true. Considering AVR microcontrollers, Led can be connected directly to port pin via limiting resistor either as a source either as drain because the chip can provide enough current to light diode without damaging the port. But what if you need to connect like 10 LEDs when each requires, let’s say 20mA. The total current would be 200mA. No tall microcontrollers can provide such power directly without damaging the port. The simplest way to avoid this problem is to use LED via amplifying transistor.

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Kick start guide to start working with Programmable Logic Devices from Altera

Probably everyone knows what logical IC’s and how to use them in the design are. But if the design is more complex, electronics enthusiasts are more likely to choose microcontrollers as they minimize the count of external components. But the problem is that not everything is possible with microcontrollers. They have many disadvantages when a fast response to input signals is needed. Microcontrollers execute operations one by one in sequence (conveyor). So output results will occur after some number of clock cycles. One way is to use hard logic IC’s. But when complexity grows – the number of IC packages also increases. This way design board becomes tremendous. So where programmable logic devices (PLD) comes to help. CPLD devices have many base elements (gates) without strict electrical interconnection. So designer can program these connections to combine any logical combination. Programmable logical devices allow the construction of any logical device, including counters, triggers, etc. The limit is only the number of base elements and connection lines. So it is better to start with learning tools that allow the construction of logical circuits, simplify them, and avoid many mistakes. One of them is MAX+plus II BASELINE and CPLD from ALTERA. This software…

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How to describe embedded software design using diagrams and pseudo-code

When designing embedded hardware, you probably want to visually express what embedded software will be performing and how different functions depend on each other. How to make software documentation simple, clear, and informative. If you are a developer, you may want to explain your ideas understandably without loads of code text. Depending on what level of information has to be provided, you may choose any of the following. Data Flow Diagram Data flow diagrams are used to see the processes and what data is transferred between different functions. This way, each process or function is expressed as a block (or any other shape), while lines show what information passes between processes. As you can see in the example figure simple data flow diagram is presented. Without program code, it is easy to read how the program operates:

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Microwire compared to SPI and I2C

Microwire is a three-wire serial interface used by National Semiconductor in its COPS processor family. The three signals are SI (serial input), SO (serial output), and SK (serial clock). SI and SO are input to and output from the processor, respectively. The processor clocks data to the peripheral on SO and receives data on SI. Data in both directions is captured on the rising clock edge. Peripheral devices that transfer data in only one direction (such as display drivers that are only written, never read) may implement only one data line, SO, or SI. Microwire is an older protocol than SPI, and it has some differences from it. Original Microwire has fixed clock polarity and clock phase. At the same time, SPI can be configured to any clock polarity and phase. Unlike I2C, the Microwire protocol has no device addressing built into the serial bitstream. Microwire peripherals require a separate chip select input, one per device. This allows data to be transferred more quickly since address information is not needed. However, it requires more port bits since one chip select, using one port bit, is needed per peripheral. Each Microwire peripheral has a unique protocol based on the application. The…

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