Embedded is the show for people who love gadgets. Making them, breaking them, and everything in between. Weekly interviews with engineers, educators, and enthusiasts. Find the show, blog, and more at embedded.fm.
info_outline 310: While Loops Dressed up for Halloween 11/15/2019
310: While Loops Dressed up for Halloween Aimee Lucido (@AimeeLucido) is a software engineer and children’s book author. Her first book is Emmy in the Key of Code about music, learning to code, and fitting in. We spoke with Aimee about writing, programming, publishing, and putting beautiful words together. You can get a copy of Emmy in the Key of Code from Booksmith, IndieBound, Barnes & Noble, Target, or Amazon. The music playlist can be found in Google Play or Spotify. Aimee’s website is aimeelucido.com. She also writes crossword puzzles for American Values Club and New Yorker. Some other authors and books we talked about: The Crossover by Kwame Alexander The Red Pencil by Andrea Davis Pinkney, illustrated by Shane W. Evans Pulitzer-prize winning Kendrick Lamar After the show, I asked Aimee about resources for learning to read as a writer, she suggested looking at the KidLit Craft Blog. Thank you to our Embedded Patreon supporters, particularly to our corporate patreon, InterWorking Labs (iwl.com).
info_outline 309: Nature's Engineers 11/08/2019
309: Nature's Engineers Pete Staples of Blue Clover Devices (bcdevices.com, @theiotodm) spoke with us about tools for manufacturing hardware. Some posts and products from Blue Clover Devices: PLT Spec Sheet and ICT System How to write PLT Board Test Plans (using YAML) PCB Design Tips and More PCB Design Tips Flying Probe Testers in a Nutshell Zephyr - an OS for IoT BC Devices github Behind the scenes at factories: Shenzhen Tena RT3188 HDMI Stick Factory Tour Inside a PCB Soldering Factory - in China Thank you to our Embedded Patreon supporters, particularly to our corporate patron, InterWorking Labs (iwl.com).
info_outline 308: More Energy 11/01/2019
308: More Energy Jacob Martinez (@jacobotech) spoke with Elecia about DigitalNEST (@DigiNEST), a non-profit devoted to giving high school and college age students access to technology, job training, and career development. DigialNEST is based in the agricultural communities of Salinas and Watsonville, CA. Students who work through the course tracks at DigitalNEST can be invited to join the BizzNEST consulting group. The conference we spoke of was NEST Flight (nestflight.org), held in September in Watsonville. DigitalNEST is a non-profit and is accepting individual and corporate donations: digitalnest.org/donate/.
info_outline 306: What Is in the Magic Box? 10/17/2019
306: What Is in the Magic Box? Dr. Loretta Cheeks (@loretta_cheeks) spoke with us about implicit bias in text, machine learning, getting a PhD, and STEAM outreach via Strong Ties (strongtiesaz.org). Also see: Loretta’s research on identifying implicit bias (The thumbnail image is from her work.) Lotetta’s TEDx talk on AI and remembering Yoshua Bengio wiki Thank you to our Embedded Patreon supporters for Loretta’s mic, particularly to our corporate sponsor, InterWorking Labs (iwl.com).
info_outline 305: Humans Have a Terrible Spec Sheet 10/03/2019
305: Humans Have a Terrible Spec Sheet Amanda “w0z” Wozniak (@kainzowa) spoke with us about her career through biomedical engineering and startups. Amanda contributed a chapter to Building Open Source Hardware: DIY Manufacturing. (A book we spoke with Alicia Gibb about in #289.) Amanda’s chapter was titled Design Process: How to Get from Nothing to Something. For more information about the companies we discussed, check out Amanda’s LinkedIn page.
info_outline 304: ADC Channel Six 09/26/2019
304: ADC Channel Six What do you get when you connect the open-source reverse engineer of Valve’s Steam Controller and the main electrical engineer of said device? Jeff Keyzer (@mightyohm) and Gregory Gluszek (@greggersaurus) join us to talk about building and taking apart devices. Greg’s project is on github as the OpenSteamController. He used pinkySim, an ARM simulator. Jeff has left Valve and is now a freelance engineer as well as selling kits on mightyohm.com. The incredibly useful comic on how to solder lives there: mightyohm.com/soldercomic I-Opener was the computer discussed.
info_outline 303: Kids, Turn in Your Chips 09/19/2019
303: Kids, Turn in Your Chips Jay Carlson (@jaydcarlson) is back on the show to discuss education and the techniques he’s using to teach embedded systems. Jay has some great posts on his jaycarlson.net blog. The one related to this show was entitled “How I Teach Embedded Systems.” Jay was also on Embedded 226: Camp AVR Vs. Camp Microchip where we discussed his fantastic survey of micros in The Amazing $1 Microcontroller. We also mentioned one of his recent posts about 3 cent micros. Teaching has many different approaches. We talked about Bloom’s taxonomy and mentioned the Dreyfus model of skill acquisition.
info_outline 51: There Is No Crying in Strcpy (Repeat) 09/12/2019
51: There Is No Crying in Strcpy (Repeat) Jen Costillo (@rebelbotjen) joins Elecia and Christopher to discuss their experiences interviewing (both as interviewer and interviewee). Elecia did an hour long webinar on how to conduct technical interviews. In this show, she mentions a good post-interview ratings system. Google discovered that their brainteasers are not a very effective way to interview. Despite the news that swearing is good for you, we tried to bleep everything. Also, it is minesweeper, not minefield. What were we thinking? It was obviously all Christopher’s fault. Though we should have stood up to him. Elecia's book has more interview questions but from the perspective of how do you ask a question and what do you look for in a response.
info_outline 301: Giant Novelty Check 08/29/2019
301: Giant Novelty Check Carter Frost spoke with us about the Cabrillo College Robotics club and winning the 2019 NASA Swarmathon. Cabrillo has many student clubs. Cabrillo Robotics has a Facebook page and is @CabrilloRobotic on Twitter. The club gets its funding from the Cabrillo Foundation (to donate, make sure to note “Cabrillo Robotics Club” in your contribution). Please RSVP for the Embedded 300 party on Eventbrite.com.
info_outline 300: Introverts Disperse! 08/22/2019
300: Introverts Disperse! Christopher and Elecia talk about the upcoming Embedded 300 party (Sept 7th!), podcasting, and listener emails. Please RSVP for the party. If you didn’t hear the link in the show or don’t recall it, contact us. Thank you to iRobot for sending us Root Robots as prizes! Embedded Patreon Merchandise! We send the Samson Meteor as our guest mic. Thank you for listening!
info_outline 299: Reasonably Foreseeable Misuse 08/15/2019
299: Reasonably Foreseeable Misuse Monk Eastman (@MonkFunkster) joined us for an enlightening conversation about hardware compliance engineering. We covered the basics of CE, FCC, UL, and battery certification. We mentioned that Alan Cohen’s Prototype to Product: A Practical Guide for Getting to Market has a good overview of certification. Alan was on Embedded 269: Ultra-Precise Death Ray. For a deeper view of compliance engineer, Monk suggested this book: Electrical Product Compliance and Safety Engineering. Listener Skippy wrote about his experience with CE certification. Monk plays bass saxophone in the East Bay Brass Band. Details on registering for the Embedded 300 party on Eventbrite.com are in the show itself.
info_outline 298: In the Cow Case 08/09/2019
298: In the Cow Case Eric Brunning (@deeplycloudy) returns to talk about doing science in the field in this crossover episode with the Don’t Panic GeoCast’s John Leeman (@geo_leeman). Eric is a Professor of Atmospheric Sciences at Texas Tech University specializing in storm electrification and lightning. We spoke with Eric on 268: Cakepan Interferometry about lightning and using baking goods as measurement devices. Eric was also on GeoCast 134: Launching Balloons out of a UHaul. We spoke with John about his Phd research in 169: Sit on Top of a Volcano. The previous Don’t Panic GeoCast crossover was with John and Sridhar Anandakrishnan in 206: Crushing Amounts of Snow. John’s company is Leeman Geophysical. The paper was Reconstructing David Huffman’s Legacy in Curved-Crease Folding by Erik D. Demaine, Martin L. Demaine and Duks Koschitz. Elecia is working her way through Erik Demaine’s Phd thesis on the same topic as well as Jun Mitani’s excellent book Curved-Folding Origami Design. Geology also has folds. For 3D printed origami, Eric mentioned Henny Seggerman’s twitter @henryseg.
info_outline 297: Mice to Do My Bidding 08/02/2019
297: Mice to Do My Bidding Chris Svec (@christophersvec) spoke to us about how hope can improve our software and work environments. Chris is the author of Embedded Software Engineering 101 blog and has been on the show several times since his first appearance in 78: Happy Cows. He mentioned Seth Godin’s Three Wishes post. We talked attentional focus and passing basketballs. Details for the Embedded Cats and Hacks party are in the show. If you can’t attend, well, maybe you can still get a mug (zazzle). If you can attend, iRobot has graciously given us a couple Root robots that we’ll be giving away.
info_outline 296: Train Me Later 07/25/2019
296: Train Me Later Shruthi Jaganathan spoke with us about recycling, machine learning, and the Jetson Nano (@NVIDIAEmbedded). More about the Green Machine, the computer vision, machine learning, augmented reality way to sort your lunch leavings. The code is available. The system was on a Jetson TX2 developer kit and Shruthi has been moving it to the physically smaller and only $99 Jetson Nano developer kit (buy). Shruthi has been getting into AI with the Jetson Two Days to a Demo as well as NVIDIA’s free Getting Started with AI on the Jetson Nano online course. For more information about FIRST Robotics Competition (FRC), we talked about it with Derek Fronek on Embedded 257: Small Parts Flew Everywhere.
info_outline 295: In the Key of Lime 07/18/2019
295: In the Key of Lime This week we talk about CircuitPython (@CircuitPython) with @adafruit’s Kattni Rembor (@kattni) and Scott Shawcroft (@tannewt). The suggested first board is CircuitPlayground Express with LEDs, sensors, and buttons. CircuitPython is also available for many other boards including the BLE Feather (NRF52832). For a basic introduction take a look at What is CircuitPython and see some example scripts. To dig a little deeper, check out the many resources in Awesome CircuitPython. The whole thing is open source so you can see their code. If you are thinking about contributing (or just want some fun chats), get in touch on the CircuitPython channel of the Adafruit Discord server: adafru.it/discord Many of the language’s design choices favor ease-of-use over ready-for-production. Imagine teaching an intro to programming class without worrying what computers will be used or how to get compilers installed on everyone’s machines before time runs out. One final note: Kattni did a project that gave us the show title: Piano in the Key of Lime. After we finished recording, Chris asked her why she didn’t add a kiwi fruit to her mix… Kattni explained she had limes and they were small. Chris only wanted a different fruit so she could rename it Piano in the Kiwi of Lime. It is always sad when we stop recording too early.
info_outline 294: Ludicrous Numbers of LEDs 07/11/2019
294: Ludicrous Numbers of LEDs Mike Harrison (@mikelectricstuf) challenged us to a PIC fight on Twitter. Surprisingly, no blood was shed and we mostly talked about LEDs and art installations. Mike’s YouTube Channel and his website electricstuff.co.uk His professional hire-him-to-work-on-your-neat-stuff site is whitewing.co.uk For driving LEDs, Mike likes the TI TLC5971: 12-Channel, 16-Bit ES-PWM RGB LED Driver with 3.3V Linear Regulator. Mike will be at 2019 Hackaday SuperCon!
info_outline 293: Skateboard Tricks 06/27/2019
293: Skateboard Tricks Limor Fried of Adafruit spoke with us about engineering, education, and business. Some new boards we talked about include the PyGamer and PyBadge (which also has a lower cost version). TinyUSB, an open and tiny USB stack from Hathach. In addition to the many excellent tutorials there are some interesting business related posts on Adafruit Learn: How to Build a Hardware Startup and How to Start a Hackerspace Want to get more involved with the extensive, wonderful, and supportive Adafruit community? Join their Discord chat server or Show and Tell on Wednesdays 7:30pm (ET) followed by Ask an Engineer at 8pm.
info_outline 292: Now I Feel Less Cool 06/20/2019
292: Now I Feel Less Cool Christopher (@stoneymonster) and Elecia (@logicalelegance) babble about their current projects involving ants, guitars, machine learning, and party planning. A video of Christopher’s ants Some tweet threads about our tour of Santa Cruz Guitar Company. Arrival (also: very old wood) Wood is awesome Adding science to precision craft Elecia has been reading Hands-On Machine Learning with Scikit-Learn, Keras, and TensorFlow by Aurélien Géron. While the 2nd edition preview is on O’Reilly’s electronic library (formerly Safari Online), it will be available via Amazon on July 5th. Or pick up the first edition. Phillip Johnston of Embedded Artistry (290: Rule of Thumbs) is looking for blog posts, exchanging editing and exposure for posts that make sense on the site. Contact him with a topic idea before jumping in. For the Embedded blog, related to the show with Phillip, Elecia wrote a post about learning to give feedback. Listener Brian asked about a CS degree for going into firmware. We mentioned our show with Dennis Jackson (211: 4 Weeks, 3 Days). Listener Craig asked about PICs. We suggested taking a look at Jay Carlson’s Amazing $1 Microcontroller. We talked to Jay in 226: Camp AVR vs. Camp Microchip. Listener Happyday asked about UL testing. We added FCC testing then asked if any of you could help us. Hit the contact link on Embedded.fm. Embedded has a Patreon. There are new sponsorship levels! Nothing has changed though.
info_outline 291: General Drip and Tinkle 06/13/2019
291: General Drip and Tinkle Karl Auerbach of InterWorking Labs spoke with us about how the internet works. We talked about domain name services (DNS being the primary one), registries and registrars, domain thieves, and the History of the Internet project. Karl runs his own (non-DNS) domain name service on his site www.cavebear.com. The site also includes notes from his time on the ICANN board (such as this one where they talk about redemption periods).
info_outline 290: Rule of Thumbs 06/06/2019
290: Rule of Thumbs We spoke with Phillip Johnston (@mbeddedartistry) of Embedded Artistry about embedded consulting, writing about software, and ways to improve development. In the Embedded Artistry welcome page, there is a list of Phillip’s favorite articles as well as his most popular articles. Some of Phillip’s favorites include: Embedded Rules of Thumb Improving SW with 5 LW Processes Learning from the Boeing 737 MAX saga We also talked about code reviews and some best practices. The Embedded Artistry newsletter is a good way to keep up with embedded topics. You can subscribe to it at embeddedartistry.com/newsletter What are condition variables?
info_outline 289: Stamping HORSE on Zebras 05/30/2019
289: Stamping HORSE on Zebras Alicia Gibb (@pipix) joined Elecia to talk about open source hardware, the OSHW association (@ohsummit), using trademarks for quality control, and light-up LEGO blocks. Alicia is the editor and author of Building Open Source Hardware: DIY Manufacturing for Hackers and Makers. It is a handy resource for any manufacturing. Alicia is the director of the Blow Things Up Lab, part of the Atlas Institute at the University of Colorado Boulder. Light up LEGO blocks are available at Build Upons. The LilyPad Arduino has many sewable electronics components. You can find more talks and hacks on Alicia’s personal site, aliciagibb.com.
info_outline 288: You Got a Screen! 05/10/2019
288: You Got a Screen! Christopher (@stoneymonster) and Elecia (@logicalelegance) discuss embedded systems education and project documentation. Elecia wrote about her love of notebooks on the https://www.embedded.fm/blog-index. yEd, for when you don’t have Visio. Asciiflow.com, for when you don’t have yEd (or you want to put diagrams in your comments) We talked about many different documents and tried to note design vs implementation, product vs engineering vs user, and why we wanted them. We didn’t mention mechanical things because, ya know, software engineers. Some documentation we mentioned: Product documentation Schematics with block diagrams and comments. Also a GPIO to function spreadsheet. UI flow when the system has a screens (Balsamiq for wireframe testing UIs) SW spec and design doc: what do we plan to build and what are the tricky parts SW configuration and SW developer docs: how to rebuild the computer that can build the code from scratch, also notes on debugging methodology User manual: Usually not written by SW but may need SW’s patient input Code comments: Functions and files get 5Ws: who, what, why, when, where, and how. Who should call this? What will its effect be? (“What will it do” but not in line by line detail!) How does it work? Why does it work this way? When should it be called? Where are its parameters? (“What” works here too but “where” is nice to remind you to check your memory assumptions.) Repository checkin comments Style guide (Such as Google’s or PEP) Manufacturing docs and tests docs Adafruit and Sparkfun both write good documentation, writing to users about how to use their code. Elecia likes Adafruit’s sensor library as a good set of code to review (including how much is in their docs vs their code).
info_outline 187: Self-Driving Arm (Repeat) 05/02/2019
187: Self-Driving Arm (Repeat) Crossing machine intelligence, robotics, and medicine, Patrick Pilarski (@patrickpilarski) is working on smart prosthetic limbs. Build your own learning robot references: Weka Data Mining Software in Java for getting to know your data, OpenIA Gym for understanding reinforcement learning algorithms, Robotis Servos for the robot (AX is the lower priced line), and five lines of code: Patrick even made us a file (with comments and everything!). Once done, you can enter the Cybathlon. (Or check out a look at Cybathlon 2016 coverage.) Machine Man by Max Barry Snow Country by Bokushi Suzuki Aimee Mullins and her many amazing legs (TED Talk) Patrick is a professor at University of Alberta, though a lot more than that: he is the Canada Research Chair in Machine Intelligence for Rehabilitation at the University of Alberta, and Assistant Professor in the Division of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, and a principal investigator with both the Alberta Machine Intelligence Institute (Amii) and the Reinforcement Learning and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (RLAI). See his TED talk: Intelligent Artificial Limbs.
info_outline 287: Joke With No Punchline 04/25/2019
287: Joke With No Punchline Kate Compton (@GalaxyKate) spoke with us about casual creators, Twitter bots done cheap and quick, and the creativity that is within each of us. Kate’s website is galaxykate.com. Her Phd dissertation defense is interesting, see it on youtube.com. She is joining UCSC’s CROSS to do more work on casual creators and open source software. (We talked to Carlos Maltzan, the head of CROSS in 285: A Chicken Getting to the Other Side.) Tracery is an open source story generator using a specific grammar. One example is at Kate’s BrightSpiral.com which creates a whole story every time you refresh. You can use Tracery to make Twitter bots via CheapBotsDoneQuick.com. They are often text (@infinite_scream, @str_voyage, @DUNSONnDRAGGAN) or emoji based (@choochoobot, @infinitedeserts). However, Tracery and CBDQ can be used to create SVG images (such as @softlandscapes). Elecia’s text bot is @pajamaswithfeet. It tweets (usually) kind things you can (sometimes) say to other people (or yourself).
info_outline 286: Twenty Cans of Gas 04/18/2019
286: Twenty Cans of Gas Colin O’Flynn (@colinoflynn) spoke with us about security research, power analysis, and hotdogs. Colin’s company is NewAE and you can see his Introduction to Side-Channel Power Analysis video as an intro to his training course. Or you can buy your own ChipWhisperer and go through his extensive tutorials on the wiki pages. ChipWhisperer on Hackaday ColinOFlynn.com Some FPGA resource mentioned: Fpga4fun.com TinyFpga.com MyHdl.org (Python!)
info_outline 285: A Chicken Getting to the Other Side 04/11/2019
285: A Chicken Getting to the Other Side Carlos Maltzahn joined us to talk about graduate studies in open source software, research incubators, and how software development tools can be used to aid the reproduction of scientific results. Carlos is the founder and director of the Center for Research in Open Source Software (CROSS). He is also an adjunct professor of computer science and engineering at UC Santa Cruz. Some projects we spoke about: Jeff LeFevre — Skyhook: using programmable storage in Ceph to make Postgres and other databases more scalable and elastic (skyhookdm.com) Ivo Jimenez — Black Swan: using DevOps techniques and strategies to speed up the systems research delivery life cycle (falsifiable.us) Kate Compton — Tracery2 and Chancery: using open source software to support artists and poets (tracery.io)