48: Widgets on the hands of ants

Dr. Kevin Shaw, CTO of Sensor Platforms, spoke with Elecia about his career progressing from designing MEMS to building a company that makes sensor fusion algorithms. Wandering from the Internet of Things to Singularity University to power management in Android development, Kevin and Elecia had a wide-ranging conversation.

Due in July, check out Sensor Platform's Open Sensor Platform project, an open source framework for developing sensor systems (sample timing is critical!). 

47: Bridge of toothpicks

Nathan Tuck joined Christopher White (@stoneymonster) and Elecia White to chat about varied topics relating to being an embedded (and graphics) engineer (and manager).

Nate works at NVidia on the Tegra K1-64. He mentioned some openings in his team at the end of the podcast, email the show to get a connection.

We also noted that Eyefluence is hiring for an EE and/or technician for work somewhere between San Jose, CA and Reno, NV. Direct resumes to Peter Milford using the email you find on their webpage (info @ ...). 

We asked if managers are sociopaths.

If you haven't seen The Expert tragicomedy sketch (7 perpendicular red lines...), you need to as it is becoming engineering vernacular.

45: Yanking on a cat's tail is the only way to learn

David Anders (Google+) joined Elecia to chat about open source hardware, what it means, how to do it, and why. 

Dave will be speaking at the embedded Linux conference in San Jose, CA on April 30th:

Open Source Hardware Association describes the gradient of open source hardware.

Sigrok looks at open source and open source friendly tools

Dave works for CircuitCo, manufacturers of the mysteriously elusive BeagleBone Black. While he didn't explain their absence (other than they are super popular for OEM'ing), he did announce the brand new Intel-based MinnowBoard MAX.

Some open source tools we discussed included Tin Can Tool's 40 pin DIP Linux processorFlyswatter, and Flyswatter 2.

Also, check out Dave's past eLinux presentations.


44: Light Up strikes back

Josh Chan and Tarun Pondicherry, founders of Light Up (@Lightup or on Facebook), returned to the show. In episode 7, they were midway through their kickstarter, planning to make a product to teach electronics to elementary and middle school students. They've start shipping, even distributing, their MiniKits (other kits will ship soon!). 

Elecia asks them if building their business and shipping the product went according to plan. 

43: A lot of high-falutin’ math

Tony Rios from MEMSIC spoke with Elecia about inertial systems and tuning algorithms used in sensor fusion (i.e. Kalman). The IMU380 will appear soon, creating a whole line of relatively inexpensive quality inertial measurement and inertial navigation systems. 

Tony has a  few embedded systems and algorithms positions open, for example, embedded software engineer. Email hr@memsic.com (note you heard it in the podcast so Elecia gets brownie points). 

41: Pink universes die really quickly

Micah Elizabeth Scott (@scanlime) came to talk about Fadecandy, a really neat way to control smart LEDs (NeoPixel, AdaFruit's term for the WS2812). The conversation ranged from beautiful LED control algorithms and open source embedded projects to triangle tessellations, art, and identity. 

AdaFruit has a great intro to Fadecandy.

Fadecandy is open source hardware and software, see the repository.

Micah's blog is a combo of art and technology.

Burning Man's Ardent Mobile Cloud (also a lovely still pic).

Elecia also mentioned Deep Darc's hack of the GE Color Effects lights.

40: Mwahaha session

Evil Mad Scientist's Lenore Edman (@EMSL) talks about what evil mad scientists do on their path to world domination. Surprisingly, it consists largely of art, education, and soldering. 

Some EMS items we talked about:

We also mentioned Maker Faire, a wonderful community, and Dr. Horrible's Sing Along Blog.

There is a give away on this show: EMS's Snap-O-Lantern kit. Tweet to Elecia (@logicalelegance) or contact the show. Send in the name of the author of the final quote, first one to do so wins the kit! [Update: Matthew J has won the kit!]

39: I blame space

Jen Costillo (@r0b0ts0nf1r3) joined Elecia to talk about Jen's start-up: Bia Sport (@BiaSport). They discuss the difficulties of being in an underfunded start-up as well as the joys of shipping a new product and their upcoming conference talks.

Jen discussed the company's focus on safety and privacy at the DesignCon sponsored Geek Girl Dinner. She will be speaking at :

Elecia will also be speaking at EELive, on how the internet of things isn't serving consumers very well on Thursday, April 03, 2014 at 1pm, though the talk title keeps changing. 


38: Blame the monkey

Producer Chris White (@stoneymonster) and Elecia discuss some insurmountable problems and some strategies for approaching them. 

  • Google it (or look on Stack Exchange).
  • Explain the problem to someone else… even if they aren't there (use a stuffed animal or write a really detailed email, anticipating potential questions).
  • Draw a picture (system/subsystem architecture or code block diagram or a doodle).
  • Make sure you are running what you think you are, start over from a blank slate, making no assumptions about how your hardware is programmed.
  • Identify and verify your assumptions about the all the pieces involved.
  • Get scientific: define the problem, create a hypothesis, run an experiment, record the results. Small steps! Also: get methodological and write everything down.
  • Return to first principals: how is this supposed to work?
  • Revert to last known good and diff to find the cause of a new issue.
  • Logging functions: they take time but can lead to a better trace, better picture.
  • Make it reproducible: there is information in the solution if you can find the steps to repro. Step by step, reduce the steps until you can nab it in the act. Remove the voodoo.

  • Avoidance: accept the bug (it's a feature!) and go on.
  • Sleep, go for a walk, or work on something else.

36: Drive the boat with a Wii mote

Elecia gushes about her favorite logic (and protocol) analyzer to Saleae co-founder Mark Garrison. They also discuss start-ups, manufacturing, and covering yourself with rum and pretending to be a pirate when harbor patrol arrives. 

Saleae Logic 8 on Amazon (or from Saleae)

Saleae Logic 16 on Amazon (or from Saleae)

Space X reusable rocket video

Saleae's blog talks about Mark and Joe's boat, start here

The mooshimeter multimeter (as seen on Hackaday and Dragon Innovation)

35: All these different reasons why you might want to do something

Want to learn how to get from idea to schematic, through layout, all the way to physical boards? Elecia spoke with Chris Gammell about his Contextual Electronics course to teach the missing steps between what an EE learns in college and what an design engineer's job entails.

Chris is co-host of the excellent electronics podcast The Amp Hour and author of Chris Gammell's Analog Life. On twitter, contact Chris via @Chris_Gammell or ask questions about the course @ContextualElec.

We mentioned UT Austin's online embedded systems course which starts soon as well.

Contextual Electronics includes some in-depth KiCad instruction. Some intro (and free) KiCad tutorials:

33: Quitting my Finnish lessons

Alison Chaiken (Google+) and Elecia discuss what you need to know to get into development for the automotive market. 

Check out Alison's she-devel site for a big list of links and resources or go to a Silicon Valley Automotive Open Source Group meetup to say hello. A small subset:

CORRECTION: In the show, Elecia talks about airplane certification levels as though only the size of the plane matters. As listener Burko points out, the certification level also depends on how critical the subsystem is. Those seatback tray tables don't have to be certified to DO178A, but the artificial horizon does.]

31: If you see a dongle run away

Producer Christopher (@stoneymonster) joins Elecia to look through their mailbag and talk about gift ideas.

Podcasts we like:

Some listener suggestions on where to get small run boards made:

Gift ideas (specifics):

Gift ideas (stores):


30: Eventually lightning strikes

James Grenning (@jwgrenning) joined Elecia to talk about how to be a good programmer using Test Driven Development (TDD).

James' excellent book on how to use TDD: Test Driven Development for Embedded Systems 

Take a class from Renaissance Software

Manual test is not sustainable blog post, from James' blog

Legacy code challenge from Github

SOLID design principles

Iterative and Incremental Development article by Craig Larman

Untapped: the beer drinker's twitter

To get the signed copy of James' book, email (show@embedded.fm), tweet (@logicalelegance), or hit the contact link on embedded.fm with your number between 0-99. First one with the correct number wins the book (if no one is correct, the closest number will be selected 12/25/13).