Embedded

Getting started with LoRa(WAN)

Tags: Embedded, Network, Wireless

It seems that LoRa(WAN) in general tends to be quite a source of confusion for those starting out with this technology. For starters, there is the difference between LoRa and LoRaWAN that are absolutely fundamental but often these terms are used interchangeably. In addition, there are many different starter kits and devices out there that are not necessarily compatible with each other. The need to build up a gateway network alongside building actual communicating devices doesn’t really help to make this all straight forward. Hopefully this text can help clear some of the confusion and get people to build both infrastructure and things (pun intended) on top of this promising network technology.

Some Thoughts on Securing IoT Devices

Tags: Cryptography, Embedded, Programming, Security

Security in the Internet of Things (IoT) leaves much to be desired. Some of the recent DDoS attacks such as those through Mirai on DNS provider Dyn or on popular security site KrebsonSecurity have been possible due to weak security measures in things like network connected cameras. There are many reasons why the situation is what it is today, but that will not be the topic of this entry. While we have seen some initiatives, notably the security guidelines (PDF) by NIST and some comments made by Bruce Schneier, I feel that this leaves a lot of people wondering what practical measures to take to secure their devices. Many companies in the IoT are start-ups lacking a proper understanding of what security in the embedded field entails, and might lack (or didn't plan for) the budget to hire dedicated security people. The goal of this blog entry are to (hopefully) lift the veil on some of the methodologies that should be employed to create more secure IoT systems from a very practical point of view.

IOT

Standard Peripherals Library vs CMSIS vs HAL vs Low Level Library

Tags: ARM, C, Electronics, Embedded, Programming

The STM32 line of microcontrollers offer a bunch of features in a nice package at reasonable cost, something I like. What I don't like as much are the development libraries around it provided by ST. For this reason, most of the time I stick to writing code using the 'Cortex Microcontroller Software Interface Standard' (CMSIS) and the datasheet, and this works nicely but can be slow to develop. While it's still my personal favorite, I recently checked out the other options to see where things are going to do the prep work for some ports of older projects built using the 'Standard Peripherals Library' to newer processors such as the STM32L4.

 

Microcontroller

 

This Is How We Build It

Tags: Cloud, Electronics, Embedded, GPS, Network, Security, Wireless

The problem with the Internet of Things is that few people truly understand what it is really about. A large percentage of people in the group that does understand it tend to discard it as yet another marketing hype such as “the cloud” with very little real substance. Due to all kinds of news reports on security issues, vendor lock-ins and lack of open standards, cost overruns, etc. these people tend to see their opinions confirmed. We at WRD Systems also tend to agree with this group – to a point. The reason we do is that we see the same mistakes being made as countless numbers of times before, including the critical security issues that WRD Systems has highlighted for years. However, we also see the great potential of internet connected devices. Probably not the refrigerators and such, but closer to the origins of the Internet of Things: Machine to Machine, also known as M2M.

paint city titlegraphic

Flashing STM32L15X EEPROM with STLink under Linux

Tags: Embedded, Linux, Programming

For a while now I've been evaluating some 32-bit micro controllers for a future product. One of them was the STM32L15x series. There are some handy development boards available such as the Nucleo boards. Since we need to have the ability to program processors from Linux for our small production line, tool support is one of the checkboxes that need to be ticked.

For the STM32 series, flashing the microcontroller can be done through GDB, OpenOCD, and the STLink tool. One issue that arose however was the need to program the EEPROM available on the STM32L series. This requirement comes from need to generate and program different EEPROM content on a per board basis at the production line. Doing that requires a few tweaks that are documented below...

Solutions

 

How Small?

Tags: Electronics, Embedded, GPS, Hardware

As some of you may know, we at WRD Systems have been working on our new, next gen, GPS tracker. The goal of this one is to be as small as possible, yet pack as many features as possible out of the box while keeping the cost low. We often get requests asking how small our tracker is. We tried communicating scale in millimeter, or took a picture of the board next to a coin, but they did not seem to convey how small our tracker can really be. To try to improve on this, we present the Matchbox Tracker:

Kickstarter - Part Deux

Tags: Embedded, GPS, Programming

In the spirit of "never give up, never surrender", we're back with a Kickstarter project! Just like the previous one, it has to do with GPS and location, but this time we focus on a particular application: bike security and tracking. We're doing this project in partnership with Cycling Boom.

 

 

New Horizons for Embedded

Tags: Computer, Embedded, Programming, School

Well, maybe not that new - but definitely something that is getting more and more important. 

The embedded development toolbox is rapidly expanding, and it is becoming harder and harder to find people skilled in these tools. Starting from the university, 'embedded' is considered hard and not as 'cool' as traditional software development. Why spend hours hacking away and reading datasheet to get to blink a LED and send 'hello world' over a UART when you could build rich graphical programs with web technologies or mobile? The fact that embedded development requires a wide skill set going from electronics, process control, signal processing to software, to Matlab means that substantial time is required to form a good base on which to build the required specialized skill sets. Not many people are willing to do that. 

For your future career

Tags: Embedded, Programming, School

 From a recent LinkedIn thread (didn't correct spelling, but you get the idea):

Need suggestion for future career

Hello all, I'm looking for a new job, but now I'm really confused. My friends suggest me for iOS/Android development, 'cause that are the most popular and easy to get started. But for me, that's not cool, not challenging and not exciting at all. No offents. Most of them are SNS and incredible easy on programing. I was tired some hardware R&D company, didn't goes well, very little salary or named "R&D" in fact "Copy and Paste"(and some company just told me that "BEc not under consideration"). I love embedded C programming, but looks my country didn't (nobody interested in teach newbie), it's too hard to improve my skill without product R&D. Should I follow my firend's advice to became a framework based SDE, or other way out?

It is not just this one person, but plenty of other young people struggle with this, in a variety of different fields. I replied with a 5 step 'program' to the question, and it seems that others appreciated it as well. I'm reproducing it here just in case it disappears from LinkedIn...

Kids these days...

Tags: Embedded, Programming, School

Recently I've noticed an increasing amount of questions in several LinkedIn groups I joined regarding people new in the field asking questions which are easily found using a basic internet search. Furthermore, we have students and others ask questions with regard to degrees and experience in the field. After replying to dozens of posts like that, I thought it would be good to condense the information spread across several groups into one blog post as a reference for future questions.

While the groups in question are particularly focused on embedded engineering, operating systems and software engineering, I assume similar posts are present in other groups. Hopefully, some will find their way to this blog and find the information in this post useful. I'm sure this phenomenon isn't limited to LinkedIn groups either...

Men in Black Orange

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