Embedded Software Control System Basics

Water-Heater-Timer.jpgWhat Is A Control System?

A control system manages the behavior of other devices or systems.

According to Wikipedia “The term ‘control system’ may be applied to the essentially manual controls that allow an operator, for example, to close and open a hydraulic press, perhaps including logic so that it cannot be moved unless safety guards are in place.”

An automatic sequential control system may trigger a series of mechanical actuators in the correct sequence to perform a task. For example, various electric and pneumatic transducers may fold and glue a cardboard box, fill it with product and then seal it in an automatic packaging machine. Programmable logic controllers are used in many cases such as this, but several alternative technologies exist.

In the case of linear feedback (closed loop) systems, a control loop, including sensors, control algorithms, and actuators, is arranged in such a fashion as to try to regulate a variable at a set point or target value. An example of this may increase the fuel supply to a furnace when a measured temperature drops. PID controllers are common and effective in cases such as this. Control systems that include some sensing of the results they are trying to achieve are making use of feedback and so can, to some extent, adapt to varying circumstances. Open-loop control systems do not make use of feedback, and run only in pre-arranged ways.”

Why Are Control Systems Important?

More than ever, embedded software lies at the heart of almost every product on the market. But embedded software control system development is about more than just writing code – it's about understanding your product and the environment in which it lives. Sensors, wireless controls, user inputs, and more all bombard the control system with unpredictable and simultaneous data streams - streams that need to be prioritized and dealt with on a real-time basis.

Developing a firm foundational logic for the control system, through flow-charting, walk-throughs, and simulations is the critical first step in every project. Only then do software engineers begin coding.

The system should also take the user interface into consideration. Too many products are encumbered by poorly integrated features that negatively impact consumer perception. Simple mockups and simulations at the start of a project allow product designers to review a variety of concepts with typical end users to determine what works – and more importantly – what doesn't.

How Mars International Can Help

The Mars Team of engineers helps develop the control system interface with the consumer in mind.  With prototyping, we develop a complete package including an electronic schematic design and printed circuit board layout. We help companies achieve the most value from a design, while still maintaining high-quality standard. It is a mindset that we bring to every project we undertake.

Our services include:

  • Embedded Software Development
  • Detailed Logic Validation
  • Real-Time Signal Processing
  • Ergonomic User Interface Design
  • Expert in Microchip, ST, and Atmel Processors
  • Value-conscious Hardware Design

 Contact Mars International today to find out how we can help with your next project.

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