Starting out in embedded development

By | March 18, 2017

So, you have an idea, or maybe you are just considering this technology. Maybe you want a career change, and you want to get up to speed. Whatever the reason, you want to start off in embedded systems. Learning embedded systems isn’t like just learning g a new programming language; you might indeed learn C (or at least a new way of programming), but it is going to require time, and to be honest, money. Don’t be scared; professional lab equipment can cost thousands of Euros/dollars, but you don’t need that to start off with. The following is a checklist of minimum requirements to get you started.


The evaluation board the heart of your project, and it will take some time to choose it. Choose this first, as a lot of other subjects will depend on this. To have a look at just some of the boards that exist, have a look at the boards section.


You have your board, and now you need to program it. You usually have multiple choices available; most manufacturers deliver a development solution for their products, professional and free programs also exist for several different types of microcontrollers. To see some of the software you can use, have a look at the software section.


This is a requirement if you plan on connecting any electronics. Most evaluation boards that you will encounter have headers, connectors that you can use to output signals and input information to the microcontroller. A breadboard allows you to connect electronics easily, without making your own electronic boards or using a soldering iron.

Power supply

Most evaluation boards are powered using the USB port of your computer, but sooner or later you will need to deliver more power, either for added electronics, or to un-tether your laptop when your project is finished. Have a look here for power supply suggestions.


This is one of the most essential tools you can have. Is your output high or low? How much voltage is the sensor returning? How much current is your device using? More importantly, what is the value of the resistor on your desk? The multimeter can tell you. More advanced models can also test transistors and capacitors, show the frequency of a signal, or with specific components, show the temperature at a specific point. Have a look here for advice on multimeters.


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