Build Your Own Embedded System

March 24, 2008

Jack Ganssle-March 24, 2008

Once again the Embedded Systems Conference is coming to the McEnery Convention Center in San Jose, CA, this April 14-18. And again it will be both an exhibition of the latest in tools and technology, plus a huge educational event with five days of classes.

But there's a difference this year. Attendees with an "All Access Conference Pass" will be given an ARTiGO development platform, preloaded with Windows CE. This is essentially a Pentium-class PC which attendees will use in a special series of hands-on classes. After the conference, take the ARTiGO home.

I know I want one.

Regular readers know I'm an advocate of learn-by-doing. Theoretical knowledge is critical, but engineering is ultimately about building things, which implies a Catch-22: we learn to build things only by building things.

Thirteen different ninety minute classes use the ARTiGO system to give that sort of hands-on experience, each one taught by a Master Craftsman of the technology. Each session stands alone; you don't need to attend all, or even most of them. Pick one or more particular subject areas of interest and go to just those classes.

Six cover aspects of Windows CE deployment. If you're looking at using CE for the first time be sure to check out the intro class about building that OS and loading onto your embedded platform. Another will have attendees turn the ARTiGO into a web and file server, while others cover debugging CE and finding performance bottlenecks.

Two classes delve under Windows into the BIOS, and show how to customize the BIOS as well as to get fast boots. I might have to take that one to find some way to speed up the agonizing boot time of my XP machine.

Low-power and wireless are certainly leading trends in the embedded world, and one of the sessions will have folks building an ultra-low power wireless sensor network. Another show techniques for maximizing battery life, and comes with yet another freebie: a Silicon Lab's CapTouchSenseSK kit.

Want to get into the ARM revolution? Take the ARM-Based Embedded Web Server class, and go home with an eval kit from Luminary Micro.

Finally, if you're considering USB be sure to take the Embedded USB Made Easy course, and leave with a Silicon Lab's F320 USB tool stick.

All in all these classes promise to be interesting and fun, and the giveaways are pretty enticing, too.

Editor's Note: Click here to register now for the Embedded Systems Conference, Silicon Valley.

Jack G. Ganssle is a lecturer and consultant on embedded development issues. He conducts seminars on embedded systems and helps companies with their embedded challenges. Contact him at His website is

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