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Embedded Hardware Systems from Fundamentals to Finished Devices: O'Reilly Releases "Designing Embedded Hardware"

December 11, 2002

Sebastopol, CA--If you think you have only a handful of computers in your home, think again. The typical house has thirty or more, hidden inside TVs, VCRs, DVD players, alarm clocks, remote controls, cell phones, toys, and a host of other devices. These small embedded systems free you from adjusting your thermostat several times a day, or even better, spare you from explaining to your skeptical mechanic that yes, the air bag light on the dashboard really does come on six or seven times a day, even if it refuses to do so now. As incredibly useful as these small devices are, it's no surprise that many programmers are interested in building their own. O'Reilly's latest release, Designing Embedded Hardware (US $39.95) by John Catsoulis, shows how to design and create entirely new embedded devices and computerized gadgets as well as customize and extend off-the-shelf systems.

"Designing Embedded Hardware" is a comprehensive book about designing small machines for embedded applications. Unlike the many books on the market that are dedicated to writing code for particular microprocessors, or that stress the philosophy of embedded system design without providing practical information, this book steers a middle path, teaching readers about the nuts and bolts of designing their own embedded products.

Catsoulis's approach is unique in that it is intentionally hardware specific. His goal is to provide inexperienced professionals with the necessary tools and skills to design, develop, build, and program embedded computer systems for use in real-world applications. "There are a plethora of books that cover out-of-date processors, give overly complex and irrelevant examples, and provide insufficient depth to be genuinely useful," says Catsoulis. "But no books provide sufficient depth of coverage to allow an inexperienced, yet intelligent professional to develop his or her own computer hardware. The pitfalls and traps are ignored or glossed over.

"When readers finish this book," Catsoulis adds, "They should be able to design a saleable embedded computer product. The book is structured into conceptual and design building blocks to allow readers to combine information from various sections to develop an appropriate system. It is, in effect, 'digital Lego.'"

"Designing Embedded Hardware" covers:

  • The theory and practice of embedded systems
  • 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
  • Networks (RS-485, CAN, and Ethernet)

Dr. Duncan A. Campbell of the School of Electrical and Electronic Systems Engineering, Queensland University of Technology, writes in his foreword to the book, "John has walked the proverbial tightrope of taking the reader on a journey starting at the essentials and ending with a number of functional embedded computer designs. The journey is a pleasant and mentally stimulating one that provides just enough of everything, and the frequent anecdotes are ones to look forward to."

Software professionals who want to design their own hardware will find a wealth of information in "Designing Embedded Hardware" to help them penetrate the mysteries of building their own specialized devices and start them well on their way.

Additional resources:

Designing Embedded Hardware
John Catsoulis
ISBN 0-596-00362-5, 298 pages, $39.95 (US), $61.95 (CAN)
1-800-998-9938; 1-707-827-7000

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