Electronic Design

Electronic Design

This is our original core expertise & we still do most of it in-house. We have expertise in many areas including:

  • Access control & proximity readers
  • Analogue & digital video
  • Asset management & Mifare smart cards
  • Audio (including high-fidelity)
  • Automatic Test Equipment (ATE)
  • Automotive design
  • Battery powered devices
  • Environmental monitoring (temperature, humidity, acceleration, etc)
  • GPS
  • GSM Modems
  • Line interface design
  • Low power radio systems
  • Medical equipment
  • Microcontrollers & microprocessors from 4-bit to 32-bit
  • Offline PSUs
  • Serial Comms (RS232, RS485, LVDS, USB, Etc)
  • TCP/IP
  • Etc

Hardware

We are well versed in all aspects of hardware design, from high-gain analogue through to high-speed digital. In such a fast moving field it is imperative to keep up-to-date with new developments & the latest techniques. A wealth of experience enables us to quickly design highly cost-effective circuits without sacrificing either performance or reliability. We have invested in an integrated CAD package combining:

  • Schematic capture
  • Rules checking
  • Circuit simulation
  • Automatic BOM generation
  • PCB layout

The requirements of manufacture & test are considered from the outset. Simulation is used to optimise circuit performance prior to prototyping. Meticulous attention to detail is backed up with internal reviews at key stages.


PCB Layout

In an environment of ever shrinking geometries & higher speeds combined with steadily more demanding EMC requirements, we know that the most important component of the circuit is often the PCB itself. Our engineers understand current flow & controlled impedance routing; we are experienced in the requirements of PCB manufacture & component assembly.

Firmware (embedded software)

Except for time-critical routines we rarely use assembly language nowadays as it is time consuming to code, difficult to validate, harder to maintain & processor specific.

We normally write firmware in C as it is widely understood & supported on most processors. We adopt a driver based approach so that non-hardware specific modules are fully portable. State machines are used wherever possible to maximise reliability & facilitate validation. For critical applications we would recommend selecting a compiler that can apply the Motor Industry Software Reliability Association (MISRA) guidelines.

However sometimes we use Forth (not Fourth) - this is a stack-based language with a built in interpreter and compiler:

  • It is very good at describing applications in natural language terms.
  • The built-in interpreter lends itself to software validation (important for medical products)

Both C & Forth are well suited to real-time applications.

Software

Products requiring user interfaces with a high graphical content and/or interaction with IT infrastructures will typically require an operating system and support from third-party applications. This is the realm of 'software' rather than 'firmware'.

Software development requires knowledge of how applications interact with each other, which interfaces are compatible, what communication protocols are required, etc. Products targeted at the Windows® operating system, for example, are expected to behave like the majority of all other Windows applications. For instance, there are standard menu layouts, pop-up menus, keyboard shortcuts, mouse support, tool-tips, help files, installation scripts, etc.

Software products can be large and complicated because of users' ever-increasing expectations fuelled by the wonderfully creative features they experience everyday on PCs and mobile phones. All this sophistication at the front-end removes attention from the underlying electronics, which traditional software houses typically struggle to support and understand. WareWorks bridges the two camps of software and hardware with an extensive knowledge of electronic design, bus interfacing and low-level operating system functionality.

We have recent experience with the provision of medical instrumentation on embedded PCs, and remote administration of residential premises using desktop PCs. Our work with user interfaces and PC-based instrumentation includes the following technologies and applications:

  • Operating systems Windows CE, Windows XP and MS DOS
  • Programming languages C++, Visual Basic, C# and Forth.
  • Database administration using Microsoft Access and SQL.
  • Labview for the creation of calibration software.
  • USB-enabled hardware, including RFID readers.
  • Networking protocols TCP/IP and NetBEUI.
  • Interfacing to hardware including TFT displays, touch-panels, Super I/O chips, VGA adaptors, S/PDIF decoders and audio CODECs.


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