Embedded Systems Hack Chat

Beyond Arduino: Getting Deeper into Embedded Systems

Friday, September 8, 2017 12:00 pm PDT - Friday, September 8, 2017 12:30 pm PDT Local time zone:
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Elecia White will be hosting the Hack Chat this week.

This Hack Chat is at noon PDT, Friday, September 8th.

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Elecia White is an embedded software engineer at Logical Elegance, Inc, author of O’Reilly’s Making Embedded Systems, and host of the podcast. She enjoys sharing her enthusiasm for engineering and devices. 

In this chat, we'll talk about moving beyond Arduino into other Embedded Systems. Hacking together a system on Arduino is fun and often quick. But when you run out of RAM or processing speed, when you want to debug your code, or when you want to ship products, you may start looking outside the Arduino ecosystem. That can be daunting but Elecia can answer questions about matching processors to projects, choosing tools, and generally getting into embedded software as a profession.

TL; DR, in this chat, we'll discuss ::

  • Embedded systems ecosystems 
  • Shipping embedded products
  • How to consider matching processors to projects
  • Choosing IDEs, programmers, and other tools

Here's the sheet to guide the discussion.

  • Embedded Systems Hack Chat Transcript

    Jordan Bunker09/08/2017 at 20:34 2 comments

    Shulie Tornel Alrighty, let's begin! @elecia Can you please give us a short introduction about yourself?

    Elecia White I am an embedded software engineer, been at it for awhile (20 years+). I've worked on DNA scanners, toys for children, gunshot location systems, and a bunch of other neat stuff.

    Elecia White I wrote Making Embedded Systems (published by O'Reilly), I host a podcast called, and I edit and write for the blog.

    Elecia White I really like making things but I tend toward products more than my own projects.

    Elecia White (Do I just go on until one of you asks a question?)

    Shulie Tornel I'll pull questions from the sheet

    Elecia White Currently, I'm an embedded software consultant for my very own company, Logical Elegance.

    Elecia White I think Taako had some good questions...

    Shulie Tornel Thanks so much, @elecia!

    taako.magnusen :)

    Shulie Tornel We can start with his first, if you'd like

    Shulie Tornel @taako.magnusen : Do professional embedded systems developers use the libraries provided by vendors such as the STMCube/STL or TI's peripheral libraries and if they don't do they reimplement everything from the register level?

    Elecia White (I mean, of course, there were lots of good questions but Taako's were ones I wanted to answer.)

    Elecia White Yes, we use the HALs when we can.

    Elecia White It saves us from having to learn the depths of every chip... mostly. You do have to be aware that the HALs are example code as much as usable code.

    Elecia White Reading the HAL is a great way to understand the chip better but sometimes they have bugs. So treat it as partially-tested code and be a little wary.

    Elecia White They are getting better so someday my answer will switch to an unqualified yes. But we aren't there yet.

    Shulie Tornel @Muriel Green has a quesetion about a project:

    Shulie Tornel "I have an arduino prototype that I want to slim down to only necessary components. Other than teaching myself EAGLE and designing a PCB, what else should I look for or learn to transition this product from arduino to something mass-producable?"

    Julius (Mr. Seeker) I consider that a good question. I have heard that one a lot at the hackerspace

    Elecia White Yeah, I saw that one. :) I think that requires a book to answer. Let me think what I can say that can be useful but not discouraging.

    Lucas Rangit MAGASWERAN I have a similar question: How do you learn how to take a reference design (dev kit) and make a custom board with it? Is there a good resource that can teach just enough to get it done quickly, since you're just "copy pasting"?

    Elecia White When I think of mass-production, I usually assume closed-source

    Elecia White And that is where Arduino runs into problems... once you start selling things the licenses need to be reviewed.

    darryln Reimplement without Arduino, from bare metal.

    Elecia White So yeah, the hardware is part of it but I worry more about my software (note: my background is more software than hardware so this should be taken with a grain of salt)

    Julius (Mr. Seeker) using the arduino libs?

    Elecia White reimplement w/out Arduio from bare metal is often too big of a project so how do you find a space in between

    Elecia White You can use most of the Arduino libs as libs as long as you don't mod them. (LGPL)

    Elecia White



    Non-judgmental guidance on choosing a license for your open source project

    Read this on Choose a License >

    Marko Shiva Pavlovic Hello @Elecia White

    Boian Mitov Read the library license. Most open source libraries are permissive for closed source products

    Lucas Rangit MAGASWERAN Is starting a consulting service that takes Arduino prototypes to production a viable business?

    Elecia White So that link is for Choose a License and it breaks down some of what you can and can't do for different ones.

    darryln bookmarked

    Marko Shiva Pavlovic Yes including GPLv3 except maybe AGPLv3

    Elecia White I don't know about "most...

    Read more »

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