CSCE 236: Embedded Systems
Spring 2020


Jeffrey Falkinburg
Computer Science and Engineering
368 Avery Hall
Office Hours:
Tues 12:30-1:30pm and Mon/Wed/Fri 10:30-11:30am in 368 Avery Hall
and by appointment.

Teaching Assistants

Undergraduate TAs:
Cody Berglund,
Garrett Beard,
Daniel Shchur,
Dan Thibodeau,
Ryan Wallace,

Office Hours:

Course Information

Tuesday Lecture: 9:30-10:45am in Louise Pound Hall 124
Thursday Lecture: 9:30-10:45am in Louise Pound Hall 124
Thursday Lab: 11:00-12:15pm in Avery Hall 21

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 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 15th, 5pm
HW 1 (pdf,code) Start of class, Thurs, Jan 23rd
Lab 1 (pdf) Thurs, Jan 30th in class
HW 2 (pdf) Start of class, Thurs, Feb 6th
Lab 2 (pdf, lab2_button_count.ino, lab2_button_count.cpp) Thurs, Feb 13th in class
HW 3 (pdf,code) Start of class, Thurs, Feb 20th
Test 1 from prior years: 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2019 For review for test on Tuesday, Mar 3rd in class
Lab 3 (pdf,Ultrasonic Sensor Datasheet,Servo Datasheet) Start of class, Thurs, Mar 5th
HW 4 (pdf,code) Start of class, Tues, Mar 10th
Project 1 (pdf)
Project 1 Cutsheet (Cutsheet)
Project Report Template (Word Doc)
Project Report Rubric (pdf)
L298N Datasheet (pdf)
Bitbucket Repos: Thursday, March 12th (in Lab)
Checkpoint 1 - "Robot Assembly/Schematic" Thursday, March 12th (in Lab)
Checkpoint 2 - "Robot Motion", Tuesday, March 17th (in morning Lab)
Competition, Thursday, March 19th (in Lab)
Written Report: Tuesday, March 31st, 2019 (beginning of class)
Competition Times
Lab 4 (pdf, Lab 4 Code(Lab4_irq.ino or Lab4_irq.cpp)
Thursday, April 9th
HW 5 (pdf) Start of class, Thurs, April 16th
Project 2 (pdf)
Checkpoint 1 Code: (test.ino)
Checkpoint 2 Code: (project2.ino, ir_decoder.cpp, ir_decoder.h)
Project 2 Cutsheet (pdf)
Project Report Template (Word Doc)
Project Report Rubric (pdf)
IR Sensor Datasheet (pdf1,pdf2)
Checkpoint 1 - "IR Decoding", Tuesday, April 14(in Lab)
Checkpoint 2 "Robot Motion with IR Remote", Tuesday, April 21(in Lab)
A-Functionality "Wall Following with Obstacle Avoidance, Thursday, April 30 (in Class and Lab)
Competition, Thursday, April 30 (in Class and Lab)
Written Report, Friday, May 1 by close of business (4:30pm)
Competition Times
Test 2 from prior years: 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2019 For review for test on Tuesday, Apr 28th in class
For assignments that require electronic code submission, you can do so on Canvas
*Note html versions of assignments may lack some formatting or pictures found in the pdf version.

Course Books

Marilyn Wolf, Computers as Components, Fourth Edition: Principles of Embedded Computing System Design, 4th ed. Morgan Kaufmann, 2016
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
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.

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 Tuesday and Thursday and then lab-style lectures on Thursday 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 Lab Reading
Week 1, Jan 13 course intro, c programming R2.1, R2.2, R2.4
Week 1 Additional Readings: Basic C Types
More on Basic C Types
Bit Operations
More Bit Operations
Fixed width types
Why use uint8_t
C Pre-Processor and Macros
How not to write code and the output (really, try compling it)
Function Pointers
Apollo Guidance Computer
Week 2, Jan 20 (NO CLASS Monday) embedded system design, arduino intro, basic circuit diagrams R2.5, R2.6, R2.7, R2.8, W1.1, W1.2, W1.3
Week 3, Jan 27 instruction sets, registers and mem access, digital I/O Arduinos W2.1, W2.2, R6.*
Week 2 and 3 Additional Readings: Basic circuit elements
How to read a schematic
Arduino Uno R3 schematic
How to read a datasheet
Atmega328 datasheet
Register-based digital I/O
Another register-based digital I/O (just make sure to use bit operations (|=,&=) and not binary value!)
Arduino-function digital I/O
AVR memory map overview (see datasheet as well)
Directly accessing memory/registers with C macros (but for ARM, not AVR)
Directly accessing memory in assembly
Program counter (general info)
Read up on the AVR Program Counter in the datasheet. Reading the program counter is not straight forward, but somtimes necessary.
Week 4, Feb 3 registers and memory, debugging W3.1, R7.*
Week 5, Feb 10 debugging, timers timers and I/O R4.*
Week 4 and 5 Additional Readings: Suggestions for debugging ES
More debugging suggestions
Another JTAG link
Yet another JTAG link
Viewing assembly output
Arduino build process overview
General info on timers
AVR timers
Week 6, Feb 17 timers and PWM PWM and servos R8.*
Week 7, Feb 24 analog to digital converters (A2D) and review test 1(tentative)
Week 6 and 7 Additional Readings: Read section 16 in the datasheet on the Timer/Counter1 with PWM
Details of Arduino millis fuction (and how it uses Timer0)
Sparkfun PWM
Arduino PWM (including analogWrite)
Wikipedia PWM
Fast versus Phase/Freq Correct PWM
How servos work
More on how servos work
Wikipedia ADC
Sparkfun ADC
More ADC
Week 8, Mar 2 CPU bus, communication protocols (UART, SPI, RS485) A2D W4.1, R10.1 to R10.1.3
Week 9, March 9 project
Week 8 and 9 Additional Readings: Parallel versus Serial, UART (sparkfun)
Serial Communication (Wikipedia)
Parallel Communication (Wikipedia)
Serial Comms, UART, RS232, RS485
UART (Wikipedia)
UART (sparkfun)
More UART (but beware, code examples for a different processor)
Interfacing a UART to USB-UART converter (TTL, RS232, USB, etc)
SPI (sparkfun)
SPI (wikipedia)
SPI (arduino)
Week 10, March 16 project 1 competition
Week 11, March 30 interrupts interrupts, communication W3.1.4, W3.2, R9.*
Week 12, April 6 I2C, peripherals, sensors i2c R10.1.2
Week 11 and 12 Additional Readings: Interrupts
More Interrupts
Interrupts, very broadly (wikipedia)
List of all interrupts on AVR
AVR Libc Interrupt Reference
AVR pitfalls of reentrant code
I2C (warning code examples not for Arduino)
I2C (sparkfun)
I2C (wikipedia)
I2C aka Wire Library (arduino)
Week 13, April 13 Embedded Operating Systems, review project checkpoint W6.1, W6.2, W6.3
Week 14, April 20 power management, embedded algorithms, program optimization project checkpoint, test 2(tentative) W5.5, W5.6, W5.7
Week 15, April 27 final project competition final project competition test 2(tentative)