How To Learn Embedded Systems And Go From Idea To Product Using Hardware And Firmware Design In 12 Weeks Or Less

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What Is Embedded Accelerator?

Embedded accelerator is an engineering training program that is being designed with the goal of helping you get from idea to finished electronic product in 12 weeks or less. We start with identifying “what” to build, then go over technology theory, then schematic design, then circuit board design, then firmware then application development. See diagrams below. 

Week 1

  • We first put down the groundwork. This is about giving you vision of the road ahead and also some very powerful tools for keeping yourself on track. 
  • This section present important insights that will help you decide -what- to build so that you can then learn -how- to build it. This week is not about electronics – it is about product development and methodology.
  • We cover a bird’s eye view of how startups evolve. 
  • There are steps that every animal needs to take in its development – which when not taken create strife and difficulties. 
  • Businesses are not unlike animals and the ones that are trained from an early age to do things effectively – ultimately compound positive results. 
  • You will also get access to interactive diagrams and worksheets that help you gain awareness of aspects of your startup or your work that you may not have thought about. 
  • We cover the business equation: Audience + Offer + Price + Product + Marketing Channel. 
  • Why this is important and why all your development work will be driven by the market and not your own creativity (you will use creativity to solve market problems). 
  • Bonus: 8 Revenue models and how to apply them
  • The sales letter will be a basis of marketing and selling what you do or produce. 
  • This defines how you approach your market. 
  • It will make you into a beast while everyone else fights with sticks and stones. 
  • You will start working on this before you build your product and then you will continue working on it throughout so that by the time your product is done you have a powerful and validated way of selling your solution. 
  • The sales letter also serves as the basis for all other content creation including finding work and finding clients through social media. 
  • If all other parts of this course were removed and only this module remained – it would still be worth the price. 
  • The tools you need in order to build electronics. 
  • We look at how tools fit together and what tools you will need so that you can build things each step of the way. 
  • We look at free tools and paid tools – although throughout the practical training videos I use free tools to show you that it’s all perfectly possible and absolutely fine to do it. You can build full electronic systems with completely free tools if you know how to fit everything together. 
 

Week 2

  • We learn mathematics of passive components and I even show you how to better understand this by converting it from math into C code. 
  • We learn about usage of passive components and their electrical characteristics. 
  • We learn about power circuits and how they work. This covers power regulators as well as output driver circuits for motors and heavy loads. 
  • We look into using simulation tools to assist you with designing your circuits. 
  • You can use these tools to simulate your components or to even simulate PCB trace RF behaviors. 
  • We dive into mathematics of discrete control which you will use in all of your embedded software to control dynamic systems. 
  • We look at mathematics and how they relate to C code. 
  • We design a PID controller mathematically and then implement it in C code.
  • We look at developing a block diagram of your complete system so that you know what you are going to build and can do it faster once you start building it. 
  • Reading datasheets and identifying potential components you will use. 
  • Sketching everything up on conceptual drawings. 

Week 3

  • We look at what it takes to design processor circuits.
  • How adc supply works
  • What other components are necessary to get a processor to work. 
  • Practical design of motor drive circuit for driving permanent magnet synchronous motor. 
  • Current sensing for high power loads. 
  • High current and high speed transistor switching circuitry.
  • We look at led driver circuitry and how it connects to the processor. 
  • We look at using shift registers for expanding IO. 
  • We look at using button interfaces with built in filtering in hardware. 
  • This module covers peripherals that connect to the processor. 
  • We draw analog circuitry. 
  • Operational amplifiers
  • How to set variable analog reference voltages over I2C in a cheap way.
  • Component level review in KiCAD
  • How to extract information from schematic files and export it into excel sheets for doing review.

Week 4

  • We place components and blocks in PCB editor
  • We cover important considerations when placing components
  • We route the copper traces
  • We cover high speed considerations
  • Routing of high power signals
  • Usage of multiple PCB layers to connect everything together. 
  • Preparing board for manufacture
  • Optional soldering and assembly
  • Whether you choose to do it at the factory or by yourself
 

Week 5

  • Build system and cross compilation
  • How the processor starts your code and what other things are involved. 
  • We deal with RTOS fundamentals
  • How to separate your application into tasks
  • How tasks work together and communicate with each other 
  • How to ensure concurrency safety
  • How to share resources between separate application modules
  • How to ensure precise timing
  • This module covers device drivers and how they typically work. 
  • We cover a lot of STM32 material here. 
  • Revisiting control theory on STM32 and building things in practice. 
  • We implement communication interfaces and ways for our firmware application to talk to other devices. 
  • My CANOpen implementation

Week 6

  • Kernel interfaces if you are using linux
  • Driver development to talk to lower level electronics
  • Application interface
  • We cover build system on linux
  • We look at ways to build linux images for embedded systems. 
  • Communication interfaces
  • Building applications in linux environment
  • Building graphical applications in linux environment
  • Building web interface applications for embedded systems

Week 7

  • Now everything is completed – a few final touches are left to do
  • You may at this point have to iterate multiple versions of your hardware
  • The end product of this section is a finished product
  • Documenting your design and writing datasheets. 

Case Studies Of Process In Action: From Idea To Circuit

Field Oriented Control Of Permanent Magnet Synchronous Motor - Hardware & Firmware

Going from external motor drives to entirely custom modifiable hardware with schematic, pcb and embedded software for controlling 3-phase permanent magnet synchronous motors using field oriented control.

External embedded linux software used for sending commands to this motor drive over CAN-bus.
V2 PCB

Precision traction control of a mobile robot to achieve <1mm precision of motion.

Higher level commands executed on linux board which communicates over CAN-bus to embedded controller board which keeps track of motor positions over a different CAN-network and communicates with 4 motor drive boards to control all 4 motors. 

The board also does many other things (irrelevant for the project). 

Embedded Linux (OpenWRT) CAN / Ethernet / RS-232 / GPIO Control Board

From idea to circuit linux control board with OpenWRT firmware. Uses CAN-bus to communicate with other embedded devices such as motor drives, sensors and encoders. 

If you have similar products, need help designing boards or developing Linux firmware – book a call. 

Linux Control PC

CAN/RS232 RFID receiver for quick reading of tags while in motion.

External control board running embedded linux uses CAN-bus to communicate with this board through CAN-Open protocol. 

STM32F1 RFID Designs

Embedded mobile crane controller for vehicle mounted movie production camera crane

2 industrial servo motors, joystick system, buttons, CAN-bus, display support. 

Two or more boards communicate via CAN-bus where one can be used as a control unit and the other for driving motors – or single one for performing both tasks – depending on the setup.

Crane Control Board Design

Precision optical motion sensor

CAN-bus precision optical motion sensor with laser distance and optical tilt measurement as well as onboard IMU.

Motion Sensor Design

Embedded Linux (OpenWRT) UI And Websocket RPC Server

JUCI WebUI with backend websocket server OrangeRPCd written in C running on a resource constrained embedded system with 64MB of flash.

Server scripted using an embedded Lua engine that uses OpenWRT bindings to retrieve data from the linux implementation. 

Used on tens of thousands of devices worldwide. 

OpenWRT Router Device
Mobile Responsive

Who Is This For?

  • This is for embedded engineers who want to learn the process from idea to a finished product with microcontroller and linux software as well. 
  • This is for engineering startups that have a product idea but want to be sure they are on the right path and want to test this idea as quickly as possible. 
  • This is for engineering companies that build electronic products using microcontrollers and want to achieve results faster. 
  • This is for hardware design companies that want to build custom software for their products and are not clear on how to do that. We cover this in the firmware training. 
  • This is for software development companies that want to stop being dependent on third party hardware by learning how to build their hardware themselves. 
  • This is for CEOs and marketers who want to understand what kind of engineering work goes into creating hardware and software for electronic products – so you can find somebody who can do this for you. 
  • If you are worried about not knowing how to proceed with your product development then this is for you – we cover the steps in sequence. 

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