Richard Quinnell

Editor in Chief

Hi, I'm Rich Quinnell, engineer, writer (threatening to become novelist) and also editor in chief of Microcontroller Central ( In my spare time I still review plays (part time drama critic) and still find time to dabble in circuit design for fun.


's contributions
    • To some extent it depends on what they mean by "coding." From what I have seen, the educators pushing this idea take coding to mean "whatever it takes to get a computer to do something." So, kids may be learning Basic or Python rather than C. I think the idea (which is expressed badly and from some ignorance about the realities of coding) is to get kids to gain a bit of understanding of how computers work. So it's really about learning a bit of comuter science. As I understand the objective, because computers are integral to so much of what we do, knowing a bit of something about how they behave and what makes them behave tha way could help them understand somethin about the foundaions of our technological society. Computers become something more than magic boxes that do stuff if you have an inkling of how they do it. We teach science to kids without expecting them to become scientists, so that they have at least an appreciation for how science works. Doing the same with computers seems reasonable to me. Having them learn what a program is, and does, and create a few simple ones for practice seems just as worthwhile as having them do simple physics experiments in school. The goal is exposure, not mastery.

    • Yes, I really think that. If I can see what my AC is currently costing, and can see that by adjusting it a degree or two I can save money, I may well decide to do so. My power company already adjusts pricing throughout the day, having warned me in my monthly statement that costs are higher during peak times. But without a smart grid I am "flying blind" in making my decisions an evaluating my results. I currently get a monthly bill, which comes far too late to provide effective feedback. The key point about the smart grid is that better information leads to better control and utilization. Both for the consumer and the utility.

    • I think he would be surprised at the use of CPUs as contol elements in embedded systems. His work focussed on the computational aspect of these devices. Using them as part of a control system probably never occurred to him.

    • Many airlines are offering WiFi on board already, so it seems to me that the effects of WiFi on navigation have alread been field tested. I would expect that cellphones would not operate at normal flying altitudes, with the combination of shielding, distance from cell towers, and speed of movement from cell to cell. So, I would expect cellphones to not be used mid-flight even if restrictions were removed. So lifting the restrictions does not seem like a risk to me. But I would be happy to see more testing done regardless.

    • On item 6 in your list you qualify the interest in adding IP to IoT designs with realtime, deterministic requirments. Can you give an example of an IoT design that does not use IP because of these restrictions? I was of the impression that the IP capability was needed for reporting data and for system control, neither of which are restricted by the Inernet protocol. The real-time needs of connected systems don't have the Internet in the loop, do they? And if they do, what protocol instead of IP would they use?

    • What was the specific problem with that z80 board? Was it now generating EMI that was getting into other circuts, or was the timing off because the faster risetimes meant earlier triggering?

    • The fact that this version supports a wide range of Microchip's device families is a key feature that will help make the company's producs appealing to developers who don't want to have to maintain a different toolchain for projects having different processing needs. Time needed to restle with tools and software development is becoming a key MCU selection criterion. Teams are choosing a suboptimal processor for their project just to avoid needing to set up a new tool.