June 8th Meeting: Lessons learned in an Embedded Systems Course

(Note room change to building 3 (extending through August). Details and maps)

The June  talk will be about what Craig Cook learned between January and May 2015 working on a MOOC (Massive Online Open Course) – “Embedded Systems – Shape the world” provided via edX by lecturers from the University of Austin, Texas, Jonathan Valvano and Ramesh Yerraballi.

Craig Cook has been working in IT since the mid 90’s. Most of his career has been working as a Systems Administrator where computers have plenty of Memory and CPU power and they run an operating system.
Recently Craig became interested in small computers like the Raspberry Pi and Arduino. He wanted to learn more about them. After reading a post to Triembed about an upcoming edX course on embedded systems he decided it was time to jump in.

Open standard for connector/wire-free charging adopted by major car manfacturers

Open Dots Compatibility Logo


Ford, Chrysler, RAM, Dodge, and Scion have embraced an open standard for conveniently recharging portable devices that appears to be more effective and just easy to use as inductive charging systems. It’s called Open Dots.

The basic idea is to use a set of four parallel conductive strips to carry positive and negative voltages (or +V and ground, depending on your point of view) and have the package of a device to be charged connect to the charging strip automagically just by resting on it. The device to charge has a pattern of four conductive “dots” on its case that will properly connect with the charging pad in any orientation. This scheme was invented for recharging toys in 1963.

I’m sharing this as a potentially handy way to deal with the general problem of recharging battery-operated gadgets. It would take a fair amount of work to implement the pieces and parts involved with the actual electrical connections, but based on  the specification this is on the other end of the scale from rocket science and one would hope that the basic components may be or become cheaply available if the auto industry is involved .

As far as I can tell from their web site anybody could freely use these circuits and connector specs without consequences. (In order to sell something using the Open Dots logo one would need to execute and abide by a member agreement. But you do not need to get within a mile of this logo and could simply use the specs and reference circuits freely until you start selling a ton of stuff and see an advantage to becoming “official”.)

(Open Dots logo used without permission.)

May 11th Meeting 7PM @ NCSU

This meeting will have a handful of short presentations,  the usual show and tell, face to face networking and hands-on project help. Maps and additional details here. Planned:

  • Switch de-bouncing (Paul MacDougal)
  • Gathering ideas for an “Embedded Software Engineering 101” course (Christopher Svec)
  • Trivially solving arbitrary resistor networks with multiple voltage sources using Thévenin’s Theorem (Pete Soper)
  • <your very short presentation goes here>

(Pete and Christopher might possibly be on the road or late getting back into town, so their talks are tentative)

Upcoming monthly TriEmbed meetings at NCSU

  •  The May 11th meeting is open to some short presentations, ideally relevant to the recent “learning curve” list discussion. So far there already planned is a short switch-debouncing tutorial by Paul MacDougal and (if his flight isn’t delayed) a very short how-to by Pete Soper for using Thévenin’s Theorem to  solve nasty resistor network/mixed voltage source problems like the one in the XKCD Circuit. Also, if he’s not on the road with his job Christopher Svec  will give a short talk and open the floor for ideas for the “Embedded Engineering 101” course he’s mentioned on the email list.
  •  The meeting room assignment request is in for June/July/August, and it was early enough that we might hopefully keep the same room. With luck we’ll get the assignments in time to announce them at the May meeting.
  • June 8th will be focused on Craig Cook’s experience with an edX embedded systems course offered by U of Texas/Austin.
  • July 13th will feature Adam Haile and Dan Ternes of Maniacal Labs providing an update about their AllPixel project along with whatever else they’d like to discuss (perhaps some discussion with their co-conspirators about lighting up windows in downtown Raleigh?)

If you’re interested in giving a (short) talk in May or a talk at another TriEmbed meeting the best starting point is the TriEmbed email list (or, if it would be more comfortable, a message to Paul MacDougal and Pete Soper). You would ideally include a short synopsis and bio and conservative estimate of the amount of time you need.