Electronics and software solutions
Real-time embedded systems
Design and implementation of all aspects of real-time embedded systems is at the heart of what we do at M4 Electronics. The main focus is on small systems design, encompassing both electronics and embedded software design. Find out more in the sections below or look at some case studies to see the sort of work we have done previously.
If you are new to embedded systems you can read our primer to find more background information on how these systems work.
We take pride in producing software which is robust and reliable, ensuring that your system works well and keeps on working no matter what happens. Maintenance calls represent a considerable expense to a manufacturer and it is important to anticipate problems before they happen and work out how they should be handled.
Efficient coding makes best use of available resources. For battery powered devices that means keeping CPU activity to a minimum to reduce battery drain, whilst preserving responsiveness where it matters. Efficient design can also mean achieving more with limited hardware, reducing the number and cost of components.
We always aim to keep the code simple and well structured, making it easier to maintain and update, as well as reducing the corners where unexpected bugs can hide.
Bootloaders are a feature we often add to microcontroller code, allowing the device firmwarwe to be updated in-situ over a normal communications interface, without requiring a special programming tool or return of the equipment for reprogramming.
Network access is becoming ever more important in embedded devices. Having an integrated network interface means that such a device can connect to existing network infra-structure and be controlled or monitored remotely, perhaps using a web browser on a computer or mobile phone located many miles away. If the device is located away from network services then the mobile phone networks can provide another means of remote access.
We can produce digital and analogue circuit designs for a wide range of products. As embedded systems specialists, we do most of our work with microcontroller-based systems ranging from tiny 6-pin devices through to 32-bit systems with network and USB interface. Many of our designs are for low power use where the product is battery powered or uses renewable energy.
We can convert the circuit design into a PCB layout. Most of our designs are for two to six layer PCBs, depending on the application. In general we will produce a PCB even for prototypes as the cost of producing a single panel now makes it much more economical than hand-wiring a design on prototyping board. This means that your prototype can be much more representative of the final product, and of course more reliable.
Embedded products often need support software to help with setup and test. We can also design application software using Borland C++ Builder, to run on a PC. This might communicate with the embedded device using a serial, USB, network or custom communication method.
With over 30 years experience in embedded design we have many contacts with local companies whose activities complement our own and with who we regularly work. If we cannot provide a solution ourselves we will know someone who can.