Tag: reuse

Clever Design Process

In the world of embedded systems designing, there are some main design objectives which are desired by client as well as design house. These are almost universal:

  • The design meets the user requirements
  • The end-product is low-cost
  • Minimum time in development process
  • Minimum development cost

To meet these requirements in current competitive environment, the designer must be smart enough. There are several techniques which effectively reduce time and cost of development while managing to fulfill all user requirements.

  1. Lock the requirements before starting the design: carefully read-out the exact client requirements. It often happens that non-technical managers take the requirements from client and pass on to the designer. When the designer comes up with the final prototype, he comes to know that client was looking for something else, huh! This has happened to me several times. So if management doesn’t mind, try to interact with the client at the very early stage of project to get the exact picture.
  2. Re-use previous designs: Try to reuse what you already have and used in other designs. You better know the pros and cons of your previous designs and try to the best options you have. This may include schematic parts, the components and layout libraries etc.
  3. Use available and tested firmware components: Often firmware libraries are available for every vendor of main MCU that you are going to use. If there are no exclusive requirements otherwise, use the available code. It is tested and trusted.
  4. At least initial design should be on a tested hardware:  This may be a development kit or a PCB of previous design (Keep the royalty thing in mind haan..). Now a days, demo kits are cheap, tailor-able to some extent and have some great features. If you don’t have kit(s), you can also take help from reference design of the vendor. Every vendor has ref-designs of almost all hot topic in industry. Like Zigbee is a hot field today and every vendor like TI, Atmel, Microchip etc. have their demo boards and firmware stacks to download and develop upon.

There may be other things besides mentioned above, what is your experience?

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What A Tech Manager Must Know?

There a few things which every technical business owner or a manager must know in order to run his/her business efficiently. Following tips are written with intention to guide small start-ups with limited resources.

  1. You must know the available resources and their capabilities. Resources mean the personal as well the equipment, required services and most importantly the time.
  2. The constraints. Every manager must know the constraints under which his/her work-force is working. For example a small embedded design company must not expect its team of merely two people to develop in-house GHz processor board which contains several BGA packages to be soldered. Ofcourse it needs special technology and for that some outsourcing is required. The manager must understand the technical capabilities and his manpower’s scope of work before indulging into some serious business. The project must be in-lined with company’s technical capabilities.
  3. Choose the target market which can earn you more with less investment. This is crucial because the difference between investment and return (ROI)  is the profit.
  4. Choose the market carefully which can be captured under small resources. For example trying to design something which is useful but cheaper to develop like electronic sensors etc.
  5. Try to remain within your domain of expertise. This will ease up the job.
  6. Try to re-use the work already done. This is extremely important w.r.t. timely marketability and catching the window of opportunity. However, this is not a very simple thing to do as it seems. The hands-on technical experience of several years is required to master this “art of science”.
  7. Try to sell services as much as possible instead of products because services cost almost nothing and earn handsome while there is always a risk in the success of product after all the investment done. This can be untrue for large companies but for small start-ups, it is a wise thing to do.
  8. Convert services into products. The experience during the services period is the greatest asset of a technical person. This a very slow and careful process.  It is like joining small pieces to bring up something useful. So keep your data protected and well organized. This will greatly help to reuse it.
  9. Technical documentation has always been a weak point of, especially, the engineers. Technical documentation help to understand something which human memory can not keep-up. Whether it is C code, a PCB design or a CAD library, everything must be “written-in” why it is, how it works and its dependencies.
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