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Embedded Controls

Design Process

Every project we do is custom. Guiding you through the process is a dedicated team (not just one person) that ensures someone is always available to answer questions and assist with your needs. To bring your product to life, we use a time-tested four phase process.

PHASE I: Preliminary Design and Specification
During this phase we review your plans for the product, discuss critical needs, and prepare a detailed specification. Items covered include the design philosophy, physical I/O, operation, packaging, acceptance criteria, development cost, rough recurring cost, and our assessment of the potential future capabilities of the product. The design specification serves as the basis for operator, service, and installation manuals. The written assessment helps you examine your concept from four critical perspectives:

Definition of Normal Operation: What does the product do and how do you operate it?

Interface Definition: How does it work? How is it packaged? How does it interface with the outside world? (e.g. sensors, remote computers, controlled devices, etc.)

Constraints: How does the system detect errors? What does it do when they occur? What timing considerations must be met? What other special conditions must be satisfied?

Field Service Features: Virtually all control products provide verification that individual inputs, outputs, and critical components are functioning correctly. This is done through a combination of special operating mode, remote communication, and diagnostic /calibration procedures. Newer systems generally provide for field updating of the controlling firmware.

PHASE II: Prototype Development
Prototype development is an exciting time. We generally produce multiple prototypes; we use one as a developmental tool, the remainder are yours for acceptance testing. Information obtained from field trials is logged and required modifications are documented. As part of this phase we also finalize recurring costs. The keys to making prototypes a success are experienced developers and professional tools. We have both.

Software Tools: We have the latest full suite of tools from Microsoft as well as a variety of add-ins and similar products from other vendors. We are able to develop and test using multiple platforms and a large number of configuration options. We utilize a revision control system to maintain all project documentation and source code.

Firmware Tools: We rely on professional grade compilers, assemblers, and debuggers. We compliment these with the latest in chip programming systems.

Electronics Design: SJE-Rhombus created schematics and layouts are developed using state-of the-art software to ensure compliance with design rules and component requirements. We also have a number of drawing packages for mechanical designs. Of course, every project includes professional quality prints and documentation.

Test Instruments: In addition to the normal array of test equipment (oscilloscopes, volt meters, etc) we have precision variable power supplies, logic analyzers, high speed pulse / frequency / wave generating and measuring devices, noise generators, RF analyzers, specialized surface mount support equipment, microscopes, ESD (Electro Static Discharge) equipment, ovens / controlled environments, and much more.

PHASE III: Manufacturing Integration
At this point we incorporate any changes discovered during the testing of the prototypes, complete manufacturing documentation, build test fixtures, acquire production tooling, finalize test plans and procedures, and generally prepare for normal production. Once the prototypes are working and meet specifications, we make sure the items needed for production have been addressed. The major check list items include:

• Bill of Material
• Assembly drawings
• Assembly procedures
• Test procedures and specifications
• Control procedures
• Archive all documentation
• Disseminate documentation
• Initiate long lead-time component orders
• Perform any board / firmware revisions

• Agency approvals (UL, CE, etc,)
• Obtain production tooling for boards
• Overlays and other tooling
• Surface mount screens
• Assembly fixtures
• Build and program QA fixtures
• Programming automatic insertion equipment

PHASE IV: Production
We recommend a small initial run of product to iron out any kinks in the process and to prime the production pipeline. Finished boards or complete sub-assemblies are built and shipped on schedule.

 

Custom Embedded Electronic Controls Design Process

Your Partner From Concept to Manufacturing

  • Feasibility and Specification
  • Schematic Design
  • PCB Layout
  • Parts Sourcing/Procurement
  • Prototyping
  • Embedded Firmware
  • Applications Software
  • Validation Testing
  • Manufacturing Integration
  • Pilot and Volume Production

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