Designing Embedded Hardware, 2nd Edition
Publisher: O'Reilly Media
Final Release Date: May 2005
Pages: 398

Embedded computer systems literally surround us: they're in our cell phones, PDAs, cars, TVs, refrigerators, heating systems, and more. In fact, embedded systems are one of the most rapidly growing segments of the computer industry today.Along with the growing list of devices for which embedded computer systems are appropriate, interest is growing among programmers, hobbyists, and engineers of all types in how to design and build devices of their own. Furthermore, the knowledge offered by this book into the fundamentals of these computer systems can benefit anyone who has to evaluate and apply the systems.The second edition of Designing Embedded Hardware has been updated to include information on the latest generation of processors and microcontrollers, including the new MAXQ processor. If you're new to this and don't know what a MAXQ is, don't worry--the book spells out the basics of embedded design for beginners while providing material useful for advanced systems designers.Designing Embedded Hardware steers a course between those books dedicated to writing code for particular microprocessors, and those that stress the philosophy of embedded system design without providing any practical information. Having designed 40 embedded computer systems of his own, author John Catsoulis brings a wealth of real-world experience to show readers how to design and create entirely new embedded devices and computerized gadgets, as well as how to customize and extend off-the-shelf systems.Loaded with real examples, this book also provides a roadmap to the pitfalls and traps to avoid. Designing Embedded Hardware includes:

  • The theory and practice of embedded systems
  • Understanding schematics and data sheets
  • Powering an embedded system
  • Producing and debugging an embedded system
  • Processors such as the PIC, Atmel AVR, and Motorola 68000-series
  • Digital Signal Processing (DSP) architectures
  • Protocols (SPI and I2C) used to add peripherals
  • RS-232C, RS-422, infrared communication, and USB
  • CAN and Ethernet networking
  • Pulse Width Monitoring and motor control
If you want to build your own embedded system, or tweak an existing one, this invaluable book gives you the understanding and practical skills you need.
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(6 of 7 customers found this review helpful)


Just right

By pmul

from Germany

About Me Developer

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  • Accurate
  • Concise
  • Easy to understand
  • Helpful examples
  • Well-written


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    • Intermediate
    • Novice

    Comments about oreilly Designing Embedded Hardware, 2nd Edition:

    This is the book that probably changed the course of my career. I have a 100% software background (Java/C++), and I bought this book out of a vague interest in the subject. Within a relatively short space of time, I was (and still am) designing, building and selling my own embedded designs. This book either has what you need to know, or it shows you what you need to know and then it's up to you to expand on it. My personal favorite O'Reilly book.

    (4 of 6 customers found this review helpful)


    Good Book for Those on the Hardware Side or On Their Way There

    By Bob R

    from Undisclosed

    Comments about oreilly Designing Embedded Hardware, 2nd Edition:

    Thanks so much to John Catsoulis for helping to bridge the gap between the hardware and software worlds with his hard-fought experience and knowledge. His book, Designing Embedded Hardware, made me truly appreciate the Assembly Language course I took 16 years ago. Although the book is more suited for engineeers with more hardware and electrical engineering experience than I have, I highly recommend it for software developers with some background in electronics and/or computer engineering. Many of the important design concepts around embedded hardware are provided, with often detailed discussion on the pros and cons of each. Even if you are never interested in building your own small device with a custom embedded computer, I am certain that you will enjoy this book if you are even slightly interested in learning how or why embedded hardware works.

    (13 of 15 customers found this review helpful)


    Interesting Information, Distracting Presentation

    By Jeannette Vollmer

    from Undisclosed

    Comments about oreilly Designing Embedded Hardware, 2nd Edition:

    After 5-plus years of Systems and SW Test Engineering for various embedded devices, it seemed like it was time to learn how to design the hardware myself, so I was excited to see this title listed by O'Reilly. With only one Digital Electronics class in my past, though, I don't know if I was the intended audience.

    Reading the book cover to cover started great for me, with Chapters 1 and 2 providing quick overviews of Computer Architecture and Assembly Language Programming. I was flying through the book and enjoying the review of classes I had taken, while warming up to the author's style. John Catsoulis then moves on to a one chapter discussion of the specific assembly language Forth, discussing many commands along with a fair amount of sample code.

    At Chapter 4 I ran into a road block, however: Electronics 101. As I said, this is not my strongest background, but I do read data sheets and schematics on a daily basis, as well as having designed and implemented working projects on breadboards, so I did expect this chapter to mostly just provide a review as the previous chapters had. After all, how in depth could it be in 40 pages? Unfortunately, everything in the chapter seemed wrong, in a way that I can't quite put my finger on, and after repeatedly going back and rereading, I decided to just move on with the book. After I finished, I passed the book to a co-worker to get a second opinion. According to this Electrical Engineer, the chapter was "all over the place", and while not wrong, confusing.

    Throughout the rest of the book, in each chapter Catsoulis introduces one function useful in an embedded system (e.g., processor, DSP, protocol), names one or more manufacturers and sample chips, and shows sample layouts. Like a data sheet and application note in one, but with more description of personal experience, warnings of pitfalls, and "teachy" information than you would likely find in either of those documents. The examples helpfully move in each area from simple to more complex.

    Here I realize that I was hoping for examples of actual things I could build, so even though I recognize that the general-purposeness of this book and the examples is more useful, for me, it relegates this book to reference status.

    All in all, this was a very interesting and useful book, but with some really annoying faults. Throughout my reading of this book, I noticed some rather unfortunate errors that may not bother other people, but drove me crazy. These included: grammatical errors and typos (along the lines of subscripts not set, principle instead of principal, is instead of in); lack of or different style guide applied to text and pictures with regards to spaces between numbers and units; the character mu not used in text (except for once?), but used in pictures; line breaks repeatedly appearing between the value and the unit, and, twice, actually at the decimal point in a number.

    I am sure that it is hard to lay out a book like this, with the many diagrams and tables, but it seemed like nothing was ever on the page it was referenced on. In the chapter on Power Sources I let myself be bothered by two references to decoupling capacitors without any discussion of their purpose, and flipped back to the electronics chapter to see if I had missed the discussion, to no avail. On the third reference, there was finally a mention of what they were, and a promise to discuss it later in the chapter. After that frustration, I tried to turn off that part of my mind and not let unknowns bother me.

    Designing Embedded Hardware has the layout of a book to be read straight through, but the contents of a reference book. It was educational to read it once and get an overview of different parts of a system, but I will need to return to specific chapters as I find the need for that component in future projects.

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