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Peter Best

Peter's Articles

Column: The Design Cycle
August 2004
Think of a number between 0 and 10. Is your number 3? Did I guess right? If I guessed right, would you say that your mind generated a random number and I just happened to be lucky enough to guess what it was? Or, do you have an affinity to the number 3? Do you have three kids? How about three cars? Why did you come up with the number 3? If I missed the guess and your number was something other than 3, how did you come up with that particular number? Was your choice of numbers really random?

The Design Cycle
Column: The Design Cycle
October 2004
For some, debugging is the not-so-fun part of developing hardware and software applications. Whether you’re designing complex subsystems for fighter jets or putting the finishing touches on that pet microcontroller project in your workshop, be certain that debugging will be part of your design cycle.

The Ever Shrinking µC - PART 1
December 2004
Six Pins and One MIP — If You Can See It!

A Specialized DSP-Equipped Microcontroller ...
Column: The Design Cycle
December 2004
To perform DSP (Digital Signal Processing) tasks, you’ll need a bit more than just math and some fancy programming. DSP hardware traditionally came (and still can come) as a dedicated DSP IC, which requires special compilers and debugging tools.

The Ever Shrinking µC - PART 2
January 2005
If, after reading Part 1 last month, you’ve been wondering why there are two PIC10F206s on the Little Bits Development Board, here’s part of that answer: The inverter pair we just implemented can be tested by simply moving jumpers carrying the desired logic levels between the inverter inputs and watching the inverter outputs on the LEDs.

Mastering The Art Of DSP
Column: The Design Cycle
February 2005
Digital Signal Processing (DSP) is an art that has been applied to most every aspect of our everyday electronic existence. Your stereo’s CD player probably employs DSP technology and, if you own a fancy wireless home telephone, it will also most likely call upon the services of DSP.

A PIC-based Wi-Fi Development Platform
Column: The Design Cycle
April 2005
Does that new laptop of yours have built-in wireless Ethernet local area network (LAN) capability? How about that new portable digital assistant (PDA) you just purchased? Does it have wireless Ethernet LAN capability, too? It seems that everything these days is wireless — except the things that you really want to be wireless.

Creating a Monster - Micro64 Style
Column: The Design Cycle
June 2005
Back when dinosaurs roamed the Earth (when I programmed my first microcontroller), an embedded programmer working with microcontrollers had very little in the way of program Flash and on-chip SRAM. In fact, the first microcontroller I learned to program only contained 512 bytes of EPROM (that’s right ... EPROM not Flash) and 24 bytes (count them again, 24 whole bytes) of SRAM.

Focus On The Flash (Atmel AT49LV1025)
Column: The Design Cycle
August 2005
Integrating large FLASH and SRAM into microcontroller designs has become a must-know technique with the advent of microcontroller-based LAN devices. Sometimes an EEPROM just isn’t enough to hold all of those web pages you want to serve from your little PIC-based or AVR-based web server. If you’re collecting data, a large FLASH part is nice in that you can store away those accumulated readings and retrieve them intact, even if the batteries go bye-bye on your microcontroller-based data collection

DIY Easy Ethernet/Frame Thrower
Column: The Design Cycle
December 2005
If you want to put your favorite microcontroller on a LAN, you’re going to have to provide the microcontroller with an Ethernet interface. The same goes for that little microcontroller you want to talk to over the Internet. It’s relatively easy to design the hardware part of the Ethernet interface, but it’s a bit more complicated to put the logical IP architecture into code behind the Ethernet hardware design.

Weighing In With Freescale’s HC08 Microcontrollers MCUs
Column: The Design Cycle
February 2006
I like stuff that is easy to use. I also like easy-to-use stuff that is free. Many of you may have received a free copy of Freescale Semiconductor’s CodeWarrior Development Studio for HC08 v5.0 in the mail. If you didn’t, fire up your web browser and go to to download your free copyof the CodeWarrior HC08 Development Studio.

More Fun With Freescale’s Microcontrollers
Column: The Design Cycle
March 2006
All of the MC68HC908MR16 groundwork was done in the previous installment of Design Cycle, and we’ve got plenty of new MC68HC908MR16 stuff to cover this time around. So, be sure to download all of the MC68HC908MR16 C project files I’ve provided so you can follow along live and in real-time with the text and new MC68HC908MR16 projects I’m about to present. I’ll stop flapping my jaws so we can get to work. Let’s begin by bringing up the MC68HC908MR16’s RS-232 serial port.

Arm Yourself With Philips Microcontrollers
Column: The Design Cycle
April 2006
This time around, the object of our affection is the Philips LPC2100 family of 32-bit ARM7 micro-controllers. In this text, we will focus specifically on building some LPC2106 and LPC2136 ARM7 hardware from scratch. Once the hardware is assembled, I’ll walk you through some functionality testing and introduce you to some of the hardware and software tools you’ll need to program and debug the ARM7 microcontrollers...

Easy Arm Hardware
Column: The Design Cycle
June 2006
As promised, this month we’ll combine everything hardware we’ve covered up to now and put an LPC2136 system on a professional printed circuit board (PCB). Once we’ve walked around the building of the ARM hardware, we’ll put on our ARM programmer hats and put that new piece of ARM hardware to work...

The Easiest Internet Protocol Of All
Column: The Design Cycle
July 2006
RS-232-based serial ports are great data donkeys until you need to move data on an Ethernet LAN or throw it out onto the Internet. Most of the networking email questions I field from Nuts & Volts’ readers concern moving their data transfers away from traditional RS-232 cables and on to an Ethernet LAN or the Internet....

Temperature/Humidity Monitor
Column: The Design Cycle
August 2006
This month, we’ll explore a useful application that employs the services of UDP to send detailed temperature and humidity data over an LAN in your home or through the routers and hosts that make up the Internet

The Land Of TCP/IP
Column: The Design Cycle
September 2006
In this edition of Design Cycle, we’re going to march cross-country into the land of TCP/IP. Although the same hardware used to transmit and receive UDP datagrams can be used to transport TCP/IP packets, TCP/IP is a bit more complex to code than UDP. However, that’s not going to stop us from getting a microcontroller version of TCP/IP up on a LAN...

The Dish On DHCP
Column: The Design Cycle
October 2006
DYNAMIC HOST CONFIGURATION PROTOCOL, OR DHCP, is easily understood by most folks as long as you don't start talking about the code behind it. When you've finished reading DHCP spin of Design Cycle, you'll be able to converse with the best of them about DHCP and how it works under the hood of a microcontroller...

“Discover"ing DHCP Messages
Column: The Design Cycle
November 2006
I’ll bet that many of you took my advice to heart and read through the DHCP RFC documents. If you did, you now know that there are mountains of rules and recommended procedures for implementing DHCP. The good news is that I’ve sifted through all of that stuff and gleaned only the essential DHCP stuff we’ll need to allow a microcontroller to play in DHCP land. The information that I milked out of the DHCP RFC documents will be used to form the basis of our DHCP source code, which we will...

ZIGBEE For The Evil Genius
Column: The Design Cycle
December 2006
OOK (On-Off Keying) modulation used in simple AM data radios is also a popular and inexpensive way to move small amounts of data between points A and B. Move up the stairs a few steps and you’ll find 802.11, which comes equipped to utilize the Internet protocols to form and maintain a network. If you’re using simple AM or FM data radios in a network, you’ll have to code most all of the application and network stuff yourself as you’re simply pumping bits out across the airwaves...

The Design Cycle
Column: The Design Cycle
January 2007
When Rabbit Semiconductor releases a development kit, you can be sure that the electronics within that development kit are aimed at helping you learn about the latest and most popular technology. If you really want to understand how something works,purchase an associated Rabbit Development kit.For instance, I learned about 802.11b by absorbing the contents of their 802.11b development kit...

Using Ethernet Inside A PIC
Column: The Design Cycle
February 2007
This month, we’ll discuss the virtues of the new Microchip PIC18F67J60 and build up an Ethernet system based on the single-chip Ethernet engine.

Writing Your Own Set Of Drivers
Column: The Design Cycle
March 2007
The Microchip folks offer a free TCP/IP stack that works very well with the PIC18F67J60. That sets Microchip up a notch in my book, as there’s nothing better than a semiconductor manufacturer that offers a free support firmware package for its products...

In The Shadow Of The 8051
Column: The Design Cycle
April 2007
I can recall making the “step up” to the eight-bit 8051 from the venerable eight-bit 8048 way back when dinosaurs still roamed the plains and valleys...

Configuration Wizardry
Column: The Design Cycle
May 2007
If you’re standing up, maybe you want to take a seat. Last time, we started our indepth look at what makes the C8051F120 a premier 8051 drop-in solution. That Digital Crossbar stuff we looked at seemed mighty complicated...

Working With Peripherals
Column: The Design Cycle
June 2007
All good things must come to an end and this month’s installment of Design Cycle will wrap up our look at the C8051F120 microcontroller.

Rewriting C In PICBasic Pro
Column: The Design Cycle
August 2007
The C programming language has grown like a creeping weed extending its branches and leaves out from the personal computer (PC) world and into the realm of the microcontroller...

Laying A foundation for PING
Column: The Design Cycle
September 2007
In the previous edition of Design Cycle, I described the steps that were necessary to “fool” your personal computer (PC) into having a conversation with the Ethernet MINI and the minimal driver code we had completed at that time...