Control Matters
SPLat Controls' aperiodic newsletter

3 Dec 2009
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Custom SPice? Just ask!

"SPice" is the name we use for special function "daughter boards" that plug into our regular controllers. We have off the shelf SPice boards for a range of special functions, such as water level detection or AC current measurement. Sometimes your control project just needs that special "Touch of SPice" to get off the ground.

SPice boards are small, generally simple for us to design, and frequently don't contain particularly expensive components. It's not so much about the sophistication of what they do as the simple fact that we design some circuitry to do something that's not always readily available off the shelf. We make the seemingly inaccessible available to you.

But there's more! Because the SPice idea is so simple, it makes it feasible for us to make you a custom SPice board at an cost you can afford in quantities as low as 15 to 20 units. While we can't do everything imaginable, we can do special purpose input signal interfaces and special output drivers. Think in terms of converting ordinary digital or analog I/O into special purpose pins.

So, if you have a project that is stalled because you are stuck for a weird kind of interface, ask us. We may be able to help.

David Stonier-Gibson

In control - Stuff about or related to control systems

The First Blinking LED

It doesn't matter how many years I spend in this industry, I still get a buzz out of that first blinking LED on a new board or program. It's the embedded controls equivalent of "Hello world" in C on big computers. It's the first sign of life in your new baby, and with it comes the reassurance that it's all going to be OK in the end. I have yet to meet an embedded controls engineer who won't admit s/he gets a buzz out of the first blinking LED.

But there is a little more to it than just the buzz of the FBL. The FBL is just one tiny step, but a hugely important one. By aiming for that tiny step we recognize that great things can be achieved if only we have the wisdom to plan for one small step at a time. Breaking the task down into a series of small steps, and making sure each one is completed before tackling the next one, is the key to success.

Tell me your take on the FBL!

Out of control - Nothing much to do with controls, (but interesting)

The power of minus

We all google for the things we want. But do you ever google for the things you don't want? Google has a search feature that allows you to exclude all search results that contain a given term. You do this by placing a minus sign in front of a word.

For example, if I google for tiger woods I get a whole heap of results concerning recent unfortunate events. But suppose I am more interested in the man, not his games. So I try tiger woods -golf. This gets rid of a lot of sports stories. It narrows the search down, but it is now clearly polluted by recent events. So I simply scan the summaries, pick out common words that signal the pollution and add them to the negative terms. Finally, I wind up with a search for
tiger woods -affair -woman -uchitel -accident -transgressions -crash -wife. Now I have filtered out almost everything concerning recent events, and I see a picture of a man who is a role model, has a church named after him, etc., etc. In short, I have dug through the noise of recent events and found the underlying information.

I find this technique useful when whatever I am looking for shares a name with something in a completely different field. Example. Give it a try next time a google search returns a lot of noise.

You can now program SPLat hardware in C, with our free RTOS. Click here for details.

Q: How do you keep a programmer in the shower all day?
A: Give him a bottle of shampoo which says "lather, rinse, repeat"

A painting in a museum hears more ridiculous opinions than anything else in the world.
Edmond de Goncourt

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Copyright 2009 SPLat Controls Pty Ltd. This communication does not constitute professional advice