Resources

This page is designed as a collection of resources for engineers, designers, hobbyists, makers, and others interested in embedded systems and their applications. As a disclaimer, let me add that the selection of Microchip as my most favored vender, is entirely my own and I am receiving no compensation for that choice. By the same token however, many of Microchip’s competitors ARE also listed (alphabetically) because I recognize that one vendor cannot possibly do it all. Also note that some entries fit more than one category and so appear more than once. Finally, the opinions and views expressed here are my own and do not reflect the views of anybody else.

As always, comments and suggestions are welcomed and appreciated.

I have grouped entries into categories:

Prime Distributors
Surplus Distributors
Special Interest Vendors
Semiconductor Manufacturers
Other Manufacturers
Embedded Development Tools and Software
Resources/Reference
PCB/Prototyping Services
Embedded RTOS
The MAKER Movement
Embedded System Publications

Prime Distributors

This category is of the most reliable vendors that you can count on time after time.

Microchip Direct – My first choice for Microcontroller, Analog, Interface, Memory, Software Libraries, and Dev Tools by Microchip Inc and its affiliated partners.

Digikey USA / DigiKey Canada – A vast selection of electronic components with full data sheets

Jameco Electronics – A great assortment of parts with a selection of surplus and unusual items.

Mouser Electronics / Mouser Canada – A vast selection of electronic components with full data sheets

Newark/Element14 – A vast selection of electronic components. Data sheets are a bit spotty though.

Surplus Distributors

While not as reliable as Prime Distributors, these firms often carry unusual and hard to find items.

All Electronics – Thousands of electronic and electro-mechanical parts and supplies at discount prices.

American Science & Surplus – Assorted very unusual items.

BG Micro – A wide variety of Electronics Components.

Electronic Goldmine – A wide variety of parts, motors, and surplus items.

Electronix Express – Test Instruments and Assorted items.

Excess Solutions – A pure electronic surplus play with a wide selection. Including the second rarest thing of all: a 3.3 Mhz TMS 9900 CPU. Now if only I could find the rarest thing of all; a use for a 3.3 Mhz TMS 9900 CPU.

Skycraft Parts & Surplus – Surplus Stuff of all sorts.

Surplus Material Components – Surplus and Refurbished Electronics, SAMS Photofact Service Manuals.

WeirdStuff – Weird and Wonderful Surplus Stuff of all sorts.

Special Interest Vendors

These vendors have product lines that support embedded systems’ developers.

Bakatronics – Unique items for the Electronics and Model Hobbyist.

CircuitGizmos – A wide selection of USB Devices, Embedded PIC Modules, and Parts.

CSI Circuit Specialists Inc – Test Equipment, PCB Fabrication, Electronic Parts, Chemicals, and more

Evil Mad Scientist Laboratories – Eclectic MAKER orient products and kits.

Futurlec – Kits, Modules, Sensors, Solar, Books, Components and more.

Micro-Mark – Small Tool Specialists. Smaller Tools for modeling or prototyping.

NKC Electronics – Arduino, Components, plus a variety of unique products.

Quality Kits – A wide variety of electronics kits, plus components, enclosures and more.

Ramsey – Hobby Kits, Test Equipment, RF Test Enclosures, Broadcast FM, and Pro-Audio.

SolarBotics – Robot Kits, Sensors, Cutsom Modules, Books, plus a wide variety of components for embedded prototyping.

Saelig – Unique Electronics: Components, CAN Bus, EtherNET, USB, Wireless, Data Loggers, Embedded Modules, Design Software, and many more.

4 Star Electronics – Specializing in obsolete and hard to find parts.

Smarthome: Home Automation Superstore – Everything you need to take home sweet home into the 21st Century!

Semiconductor Manufacturers

The companies that make the chips are often excellent source of information, application notes, technical support, FAQ lists, reference designs and more. Here are some that I’ve encountered over the years.

Microchip – My first choice for Microcontrollers, Analog, Data Conversion, Interface, Memory, USB, EtherNet, CAN bus, Dev Tools, Software Libraries, and Design and Technical Support.

Allegro – Position Sensors, Current Sensors, Motor Drive, Interface, Regulators, and Lighting.

Analog Devices – Linear, Data Conversion, Power Management, Sensors, Processors .and DSP.

Atmel – Microcontrollers, Touch, Memory, Automotive, and Wireless.

Cypress – SRAM, FIFO, Specialty memory, and Microcontrollers.

Diodes Inc – Discretes and Analog.

Epson America – Timing Devices, Sensors, Microcontrollers, LCD Controllers, and Camera ICs.

Everspin Technologies – MRAM, Nonvolatile RAM.

Fairchild Semiconductor – Power Management, Linear, Logic, Opto-electronics.

Freescale – A complete line of Microcontrollers, Processors, DSPs, Tools etc.

FTDI Chip – Specializing in USB bridge and support chips and USB modules and products.

IDT: Integrated Device Technology – Clocks and Timing, Memory and Logic,

International Recifier – High Power Mosfets and Power Support circuits.

Intersil – Linear, Audio, and Specialty Linear components.

IXYS – Power Semiconductors, Power and Specialty Integrated Circuits and RF Power. Also Claire Relays and Zilog Microprocrocessors and Microcontrollers.

Linear Technology – As the name suggests, Linear ICs, Data Conversion, Power Management, Interface and Timing. Plus the awesome, free, LTSpice simulation software.

MAXIM – Audio, Clock, Timing, Data Conversion, Interface, Power Managment, Signal Conditioning, Switches, Multiplexors, Sensors, and Wireless.

Melexis – ICs for Automotive, Sensing, LIN Bus, and Motor Control.

Micrel – Power Management, Linear, Bus Support, Logic, Fibre Optic, and Ethernet ICs.

Micron – Large DRAM, Memory Modules, and Flash Memory.

NetBurner – Embedded EtherNet, Wireless, TCP/IP networking, and Serial to EtherNet.

NXP – Linear, Discretes, Data Conversion, Logic, Media Processors,  Microcontrollers, Power Management, RF and Sensors.

On Semiconductor – Discretes, Power Management, Logic, Linear, and Interface.

Parallax Inc – Home of the Propeller Eight Core Microprocessor.

Ramtron – F-RAM, non-volatile RAM.

ROHM – EEPROM, Linear, Clock Generators, Analog Switches, Sensor ICs, Motor Drivers, Audio ICs, and Discretes.

Silicon Labs – Wireless, Clock Generators, Power and Isolation, Embedded Modems, Sensors, Telephony, Microcontrollers, USB Bridges, LCD Controllers, and EtherNET.

ST Microelectronics – Linear, Mixed Signal, Audio, Microcontrollers, and Memory.

SuperBrightLEDs – LEDs. Bright ones I think. Lots of LEDs.

Renesas – Microcontrollers, CPUs, Discretes, Power ICs, Standard Logic, and RF.

Texas Instruments (and Burr Brown and National Semiconductor and …) – Linear, Audio, RF, Clocks and Timers, Data Conversion, Interface, Logic, Power Management, Microcontrollers, DSP, Switches and Multiplexors, and Projection TV.

Vishay – Discretes, Power, Linear, and Passives.

Xilinx – FPGAs, CPLDs, Configuration Memory, Software and Design Tools, and Boards and Kits.

Other Manufacturers

After all, not everything is made of silicon chips!

Hammond Manufacturing – Enclosures, Cabinets, and Transformers.

Ironwood Electronics – High Performance Sockets and Adapters.

Noritake – VFD Character and Graphical Display Modules

OKW – Plastic enclosures of various sorts.

PAiA – Analog Synthesizers and Electronic Musical Instruments.

Proto-Advantage – SMD Adapters, Headers, Breadboards, Plastic Cases and SMT parts mounting.

SchmartBoard – Makers of innovative and fool-proof surface mount adapter boards.

Embedded Development Tools and Software

These links are to the specialized embedded tools needed to get the job done!

Microchip Software Libraries, EmbeddedCodeSource.com and Microchip Development Tools – High Quality Software and Tools from the source; much of it is for free!

Brush Electronics – PIC Bootloaders, File Systems, Networking, and more.

CCS Custom Computer Services – PIC “C” Compilers.

Decade Engineering – The BOB-4 On-Screen Display Controller.

Digilent – PIC meets Arduino and more.

Dontronics – Unique Development Systems and a wide variety of Embedded Hardware and Software.

Doxygen – Lack of proper documentation is a major problem in many embedded systems. Doxygen is a documentation system for C++, C, Java, Objective-C, Python, IDL (CORBA and Microsoft flavors), Fortran, VHDL, PHP, C#, and to some extent D. No more excuses!

embedded-code.com – Source Code for Bootloaders, Comms, Display, Memory, RFID, and Sensors. Not free, but not gold-plated either.

Forest Electronics – The WIZ C – PIC “C” Compiler. USB, Dev Kits and more.

Frontline – Protocol Analysis Tools for Wired and Wireless Networks.

Gabotronics – Embedded Oscilloscopes Modules, Development boards, and Accessories.

IQRF – RF Networking – Wireless Mesh Network Technology

IQVCP – Visual Control Panels – A variety TFT Color Touch Screens with a builtin PIC32MX795 processor.

Matrix – Flow Code Visual Programming System, and E-blocks for Rapid Prototyping

Matrix Orbital – A wide selection of Character and Graphical Displays in LCD, VFD, and TFT.

MaxBotix – Ultrasonic Range Finders.

MCC – I2C and SMBUS Bus Monitors.

MicroVGA – Compact Microcontroller VGA Interface Modules.

microEngineering Labs, Inc – PICBASIC PRO™ Compiler 3.0, Development Systems, Device Programmers, and Experimenters Boards.

Micromega Corporation – Floating Point Coprocessors for Embedded Sytems Design.

MikroElektronika – Development Systems and Tools, Compilers, Accessory Boards, and Books.

Muvium – Embedded JAVA Development Tools

Newhaven Display – A wide selection of OLED, TFT, LCD, VFD, Character, and Graphical Displays.

Parallax Inc – Basic Stamp, Propeller, Robots, Sensors, PCB Layout Software, Discussion Groups, Software Libraries, and Kits.

PIC-SERVO Motion Control – Servo Control for Embedded Applications.

Pololu Robotics and Electronics – A wide selection of Embedded and Robotic parts, Kits, Modules, Sensors, and Cool Stuff!

TotalPhase – USB, I2C, SPI and CAN Protocol Analyzers and Host Adapters.

TRACE Systems Inc – USB Tools, Bootloaders, and TCP Tools.

USBee – USB Based Test Instruments and Tools.

WIZnet – Embedded Ethernet and TCP/IP Chips and Modules.

Resources/Reference

These sites contain valuable reference resources. Many are not specific to embedded applications but are simply too useful to leave out of this listing.

Microchip’s Master’s 2016 Conference – A must attend training and networking conference for embedded systems engineers.

Wikipedia – One of the greatest technical resources on the planet. The technical data accumulated here is a vast resource of knowledge. I urge all to contribute both as editors and financially.

A Better Calculator – Sometimes you need to crunch some data. This excellent graphing calculator is loaded with features and FREE!

AllDataSheet.COM – An excellent reference for hard to find data sheets.

ASCII Table – ASCII, Unicode, ANSI, and HTML encoding information.

Bitsavers – A vast collection of old binaries, manuals, datasheets, articles and more tracing back over 50 years. Find long lost info from vanished companies and those that have buried their past.

The Beauty of Bresenham’s Algorithm – Elegant Algorithms for Lines, Circles, Ellipses, and Bezier Curves.

The British Amateur Electronics Club Archive – Interesting articles on electronics and embedded development from across the pond.

DIA – Dia is a GTK+ based diagram creation program for GNU/Linux, MacOS X, Unix, and Windows, and is released under the GPL license.

Don Lancaster’s The Guru’s Lair – A long time writer of wit and wisdom, this site shows continuous activity.

Electroniq.net – A Repository of Electronic Projects Circuits and Schematics.

ICON FINDER – Many embedded systems use graphics. Many embedded programmers are NOT artists. Free icons can be a great time-saver.

Lindsay’s Technical Books – Eclectic, Off beat, Bizarre and Inspiring Books from the past, republished and made available again to stimulate thought and invention. Perfect for the Maker crowd!

Open Circuits – An electronics Wiki site with articles on Projects, Ideas, Techniques, and Components.

PIC32 Architecture and Programming – An excellent look at the machine level of the PIC32 by Dr. John S. Loomis, Associate Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering at the University of Dayton.

PIC32 Design Community – Numerous Projects, Forums, Blogs, and Resources for PIC developers.

PIC32.org – Nice name but looks pretty dead. I may have to delete this one.

MIPS Technologies – The creator of the Silicon IP cores for the PIC32 family. Still the best source for information on the instruction set and operation of those cores.

RamtTeX – Graphic LCD Driver Libraries, Tools, and Prototype Boards.

Scilab – Sometimes you need to crunch a lot of data. This MatLab clone is loaded with power and FREE! A nice easy to install download for us Windows users.

Uncrustify – A Source Code Beautifier for C, C++, C#, ObjectiveC, D, Java, Pawn and VALA. For those times when the code is just too ugly to bear.

Wotsit.org – A comprehensive reference for deciphering and utilizing files of all types.

Zamzar – A Free online file conversion.

PCB/Prototyping Services

Embedded designs often require the creation of prototypes and printed circuit boards (PCB). These links aid in achieving that goal.

Advanced Circuits – Quickturn Prototype and Production PCBs. Free PCB Design Software and Design Check.

Altium Designer 10 Software: Layout+Schematic+Autorouter at [REDACTED] prices.

AP Circuits – Printed Circuit Board Fabricators. PCBs in prototype quantities since 1984

CadSoft – Eagle CAD Software: Layout+Schematic+Autorouter at sane prices.

CSI Circuit Specialists Inc – PCB Fabrication, Chemicals, and more

ExpressPCB – PCB Prototyping with free CAD software. Sort of… There’s a catch. The designs generated are pretty much stuck with ExpressPCB but and while often that’s not an issue do bear it in mind.

Futurlec – Prototype PCBs

Imagineering Inc – Printed Circuit Board Fabrication and Assembly. Up to 42 layers!

Kicad – Open source (GPL) Schematic entry, PCB editor, Gerber viewer, footprint designer and project management software.

PCBexpress – PCB Prototyping and production. (Confusing names or what!)

Embedded RTOS

In my view an RTOS is a vital component in the creation of most embedded systems. While buying one is not always the best option, an open mind is the best approach.

AVIX The Hybrid RTOS – Embedded RTOS

CMX Systems – Embedded RTOS, TCP/IP File Systems, USB, and CAN Bus.

expressLogic – ThreadX RTOS, Embedded File System, TCP/IP, GUI, USB Host/Device, and Tools.

FreeRTOS – Embedded RTOS, USB, File System, and TCP/IP.

Micrium – Embedded RTOS, Tools, and Books.

Q-Kernel – Embedded RTOS

Salvo – Embedded RTOS.

The MAKER Movement

While not strictly embedded systems, many MAKER projects contain them. There’s an appeal to actually building something real for a change and besides; At one time, carpentry, sewing, and black smithing were all high-tech; And laser welding, 3D Printing, and Wearable Computing still are!

Dangerous Prototypes – A large collection of electronics and embedded projects plus articles, kits, and reviews.

Evil Mad Scientist Laboratories – Eclectic MAKER orient products and kits.

Some Hacker Spaces

Hackerspaces – The guide to the collaborative laboratories where Makers congregate to create magic. Here’s a few near me: Site 3 coLaboratory and Toronto Hackerspace.

Makerspaces – An excellent guide to the economies and benefits of the maker spaces movement. This link provide courtesy of Kendra Schmidt. Thanks Kendra!

Publications

More than just keeping up with the Jones’, you either keep up with Embedded Systems developments or you get run over!

Circuit Cellar Magazine – This long running magazine is filled with projects, design tutorials, hot chips, and informative regular columns. Even the advertisements are a valuable resource.

Dr Dobbs – This old favorite is no longer in print but lives on as a web publication. Covering “The World of Software Development” this publication covers may topics that embedded programmers cannot afford to miss.

EE|Times Embedded.com – An online embedded systems trade journal. Great for keeping up with developemts in the world of embedded systems with chopping down even more trees.

EEVBlog is a channel on YouTube by David L. Jones. It contains over 200 video blog entries about his adventures in electronics and is well worth subscribing too.

Elektor Magazine  – A excellent magazine filled with projects and ideas plus kits, books, DVDs, tools and test equipment.

Make – The flagship of the maker movement. Less engineering, more fun hands-on construction. Still inspiring.

Nuts and Volts Magazine – Filled with Projects, Ideas, Advice and more, this is an excellent hobbyist resource.

 

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