Embedded Software

You know embedded software and embedded microprocessors are everywhere when you find a reference design for an embedded microprocessor system for a vacuum cleaner. They’re using a processor more powerful and faster than the old TRS-80 in order to control the speed of the motor. And why not? The basic design could be reduced to an 8-pin HC08 CPU, a triac, and whatever other components (LEDs, buttons) the designer wants to add for ‘coolness’, such as a “more suction/less suction” button. The total cost of the parts are cheap: the 8-pin CPU is around 84 cents in bulk, and the motor triac is around the same. The most expensive part is the software development and engineering costs, but if you make a single module, you can then just reuse the same module and add or remove LEDs as needed.

What’s really interesting is the idea that you could do different “effects” in software (like revving the motor up and down, or, for a light dimmer, flashing the light) in the same basic component–though I suspect no-one has thought of doing something like having the overhead lamp in your house blink in morse code…

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