CSCE 236: Embedded Systems
Spring 2013


Dr. Carrick Detweiler
Computer Science and Engineering
220 Schorr Center
carrick _at_
Office Hours:
Tuesdays 2pm-3pm, schedule online, and by appointment.

Teaching Assistant

Graduate TA: Zhiqiang Li
Undergraduate TA: Courtney Ingersoll
Office Hours:
Zhiqiang Li: Monday 11:30-12:30pm (Student Resource Center)
Courtney Ingersoll: Wednesday 2:45-3:45pm (223 Schorr)

Course Information

Lecture: Tues and Thurs 11:00-12:15pm in Avery 110

For detailed information on this course please see the course syllabus in html or pdf format.

Course Description

Embedded Systems are everywhere. Every time you look at your watch, answer the phone, take a picture, or turn on the TV you are interacting with an embedded system. Embedded systems are also found in cars, airplanes, and robots. They far outnumber traditional computers (which also contain embedded processors) and it is estimated that there will be thousands of embedded devices per person by 2015 (Lisa Su, CTO Freescale Semiconductor, 2008). Learning to design and program embedded systems is a critical skill that is necessary for many industry and scientific jobs.

In this course you will learn the basics of designing, interfacing, configuring, and programming embedded systems. We will make use of the Arduino platform, which is an inexpensive, popular embedded system used by hobbyists, researchers, and in industry, to implement the techniques learned in class. By the end of the course you will have mastered the basics of embedded system design and programming. This course will help to prepare you for cutting edge careers in industry and research.

Datasheets and other useful documents


See the course schedule below for reading assignments and the general topics covered in the course. Unless otherwise noted, assignments are due at the start of class on the due date.

Assignment Due Date
Course Survey Weds, Jan 9th, 5pm
HW 1 (pdf,code) Start of class, Thurs, Jan 17
HW 2 (pdf) Start of class, Thurs, Jan 24
Lab 1 (pdf,html*) In class, Thurs, Jan 24
HW 3 (pdf,code) Start of class, Thurs, February 7
Lab 2 (pdf,html*,code) In class lab, Thurs, Jan 31
Lab 3 (pdf,html*,code) In class lab, Thurs, February 7.
Robot checkoff due before class, Thurs, Feb 21
HW 4 (pdf,code) Start of class, Thurs, February 28
Lab 4 (pdf,html*) In class lab, Thurs, February 21.Snow Day!
In class lab, Tues, February 26.
Project 1 (pdf) Checkpoint: Thurs, March 7 in class
Competition: Thurs, March 14 in class
Written Report: start of class Tues, March 26
HW 5 (pdf) Start of class, Thurs, April 4
Lab 5 (pdf,html*,code) In class lab, Thurs, March 28.
Lab 6 (pdf,html*)
VCNL4000 Ranger Info:
Sparkfun, Datasheet, Application Note, Sample Code
In class lab, Thurs, April 4.
Project 2 (pdf) Checkpoint Wall Following: Tuesday, April 16 in class
Checkpoint Obstacle Avoidance: Thursday, April 18 in class
Competition: Tuesday, April 23 in class
Presentation: Thursday, April 25 in class (slides emailed by 9:00am)
Written Report and Survey: Friday, April 26 at 4pm
For assignments that require electronic code submission, you can do so at:
*Note html versions of assignments may lack some formatting or pictures found in the pdf version.

Course Books

W. Wolf, Computers as Components, Second Edition: Principles of Embedded Computing System Design, 2nd ed. Morgan Kaufmann, 2008.
Available in the book store or purchase online. Readings from this book are specified in the format Wx.x, where x.x indicates the chapter and subsection.

David Russell, Introduction to Embedded Systems, 2010.
Available for free download when on the UNL campus. Good reference for embedded C programming. Do not print out this book, it is less expensive to order a printed copy than to print it yourself. Readings from this book are specified in the format Rx.x, where x.x indicates the chapter and subsection. Note: this book is specifically designed for the Arduino platform, but there are some differences between the version of the Arduino used in the book and the version we are using in class. So be careful!

Edward Lee and Sanjit Seshia, Introduction to Embedded Systems, A Cyber-Physical Systems Approach, 2011.
Available for free download. Do not print out this book, it is less expensive to order a printed copy than to print it yourself. There are no specific readings from this book, but it is a good reference for those interested in exploring some subjects further.

Brian W. Kernighan and Dennis M. Ritchie, C Programming Language (2nd Edition), 1988. ISBN: 0131103628
Learn C The Hard Way, Zed Shaw
A wiki-style C "text book" alternative
Another online C text book
C Frequently Asked Questions from the days of Usenet
Suggested references for those with little prior C programming experience. There are no specific readings from these, but they are good references (thanks to Dr. Bourke for some of these references).

Course Schedule

Below is an approximate schedule of course topics. These are subject to change, assignments will be announced in class. Readings are recommended and will be added as the semester progresses, so make sure to check back often; however, the best resource for this course is attending class and taking good notes. The course is roughly broken into regular class lectures on Tuesdays and then lab-style lectures on Thursdays where a Labture is specified. Typically during labtures there will be a short topic-specific lecture followed by a hands-on, small group, in class lab assignment.

Week Class Topics Labture Reading
Week 1, Jan 7 course intro, c programming R2.1, R2.2, R2.4
Week 2, Jan 14 embedded system design, arduino intro, basic circuit diagrams R2.5, R2.6, R2.7, R2.8, W1.1, W1.2
Week 3, Jan 21 instruction sets, registers and mem access, digital I/O LEDs and buttons W2.1, W2.2, R6.*
Week 4, Jan 28 timers, debugging timers and I/O W3.1, R7.*
Week 5, Feb 4 debugging, pulse width modulation (PWM) servos R4.*
Week 6, Feb 11 PWM, review test 1(tentative)
Week 7, Feb 18 analog to digital converters (A2D) analog sensors R8.*
Week 8, Feb 25 CPU bus, communication protocols (UART, SPI, RS485) W4.1, R10.1 to R10.1.3
Week 9, March 4 interrupts interrupts, communication
Week 10, March 11 project 1 competition W3.1.4, W3.2, R9.*
Week 11, March 25 I2C, peripherals, sensors I2C R10.1.2
Week 12, April 1 Embedded Operating Systems i2c W6.1, W6.2, W6.3
Week 13, April 8 embedded systems applications, review test 2(tentative)
Week 14, April 15 power management, embedded algorithms, program optimization Project checkpoint W5.5, W5.6, W5.7
Week 15, April 22 final project competition final project competition