Why use an Integrated Development Environment (IDE) for embedded microcontroller (MCU) applications

October 18th, 2013
Atmel Software Framework

Atmel Software Framework

Jonathan Page, Atmel Applications Engineer, MSC Gleichmann

Today the ability to directly program a microcontroller using machine code is an almost obsolete skill. Instead the use of higher-level languages, which are compiled or assembled into machine code, is the norm.  And for years now, virtually every microcontroller manufacturer has offered the relevant software tools to allow developers to create, edit and assemble or compile their application programs. This was rapidly followed by tools, both hardware and software, to enable testing and debugging of the application code. Continue reading

Why are MCUs getting even more specialised – who needs richer information displays and what is IH?

October 2nd, 2013

by Steve Patrick, Field Applications Engineer, MSC Gleichmann

Renesas MCU

Renesas MCU

The jargon in our industry never ceases to evolve and sometimes just keeping in touch with it, and all the associated acronyms, can be a challenge. I was reminded of this while reviewing a recent press release for a microcontroller product family that features an LCD controller that can drive panels with up to 384 segments, referring to these as “richer information displays”. So what am I supposed to understand from this description? Continue reading

What do smart meters mean for industry and consumers?

September 25th, 2013

by Jonathan Page, MSC Gleichmann

Remote smart meter

Remote smart meter

The UK government has now committed to the mass rollout phase of its Smart Meter Implementation Programme (SMIP) from the autumn of 2015, with completion by the end of 2020. This entails the installation of more than 50 million smart meters in some 30 million homes and smaller non-domestic premises. Although several energy suppliers had started rolling out smart meters, delays were incurred because of industry concerns over the need for all suppliers’ meters to be interoperable. The recent government response to consultation on the second version of the Smart Metering Equipment Technical Specifications (SMETS) should now see things move forward. Continue reading

Which Bluetooth standard do I need?

September 17th, 2013

by Walter Puhl, MSC Gleichmann

Bluetooth smart ready

Bluetooth smart ready

Say ‘Bluetooth’ and most people will have some idea what you are referring to. The layman most immediately associates Bluetooth with mobile phones, and primarily with wireless headsets, although the more technically savvy will realise that Bluetooth also provides hands-free wireless connections between a mobile phone and a car’s stereo or satellite navigation system. Continue reading

Wireless location tracking using ZigBee

August 14th, 2013
ZigBee mesh network

ZigBee mesh network

If asked how you might locate and track an asset, such as equipment, goods in transit or a vehicle, most people would be likely to suggest some form of Global Positioning System (GPS) or similar satellite navigation system. And certainly for many applications this technology can be employed very successfully and has been used for quite a number of years for tagging security trucks, shipping containers and the like. Satellite navigation systems are also used by parcel services to track the location of their delivery vehicles, both to aid efficient operation and also to provide customers with updated information on when goods are likely to arrive. Continue reading

Embedded computer module

Using embedded computer modules to get to market quickly AND save money

August 7th, 2013

An embedded computer module is commonly understood to be the opposite of a general-purpose computer. As such an embedded system design typically performs a dedicated task and in many instances it may not be obvious that there is a computer at its heart. Many consumer products are embedded systems, containing microprocessors or microcontrollers to control their operation and interface with the user. Relatively obvious examples include televisions, set-top boxes and PVRs, microwave ovens, central heating controllers and security alarms. But these days even your toaster might contain a microcontroller, to deliver that perfect golden-brown result, while on the near horizon is the possibility that every light bulb could be wirelessly controlled as part of automated energy-saving initiatives. Continue reading

How to keep your battery-powered display on and still save energy?

July 31st, 2013
Digital blood pressure gauge over white

Digital blood pressure gauge over white

If this sounds like an answer to the proverb “You can’t have your cake and eat it” then it probably is, as we will return to shortly. First let’s understand the challenge that faces designers as they wrestle with the increasingly conflicting needs of portable equipment, especially handheld and body-worn devices that must be battery powered. And, regardless of their primary function, more and more of these products include a display of some type and most also use microcontrollers (MCUs), even to accomplish relatively simple tasks.
Continue reading

Why you should consider using Ferroelectric Memory

July 24th, 2013
FRAM Key Features

FRAM Key Features

Ferroelectric memory or, more correctly, Ferroelectric Random Access Memory (FRAM) is not exactly a new technology and yet surprisingly few electronic design engineers have even heard of it, far less understand what it is and what benefits it might offer their designs.

The right memory technology for an application will depend on many different features and parameters. Continue reading

Lattice Diamond

A Lot of DIAMOND Lattice ECP3 for a Small Price

June 18th, 2013

THE LatticeECP3 “RE-Surge” $ 99 Promotion extended until September 4th 2013 due to popular demand

Stutensee (Germany) – Lattice (Distributor: MSC Vertriebs) extends the ECP3 “Re-surge”-campaign. The promotion is valid until 4 September 2013. The one-year license Lattice Diamond, the ECP3 Versa Development Kit or each of five IP Suites can be purchased for each $ 99. No chance to get ECP3 development tools for less money. Continue reading