January 2012. A new beginning

With a Prosperous 2011 drawing to a close, I began the process of forming a new Business Venture “Engineer LLC“.  With a portion of my earnings from Contract work, I have formed a new LLC organization to serve as a foundation for the several business ventures that I have been incubating or planning over the course of 2011.  Engineer LLC is now operational and forms the new “Parent” organization for several business ventures…

    • Spidersource Unlimited is my vision for a provider of Consumer and Technical Software in the mobile marketplace. It has yet to be officially launched as of this writing.
    • dc-johnson.com was created in January of 2008 in response to an inquiry by a Ferrari restorer and as a tribute to my Father’s invention of aftermarket emission control devices for the Automotive “Grey Market” of the United States in the early 1980s. The site serves as a source of information for owners of these now antique Automobiles. Occasionally, a request comes in for assistance to this site which will now be a division of Engineer LLC.
    • Vernon Johnson Engineering Services has been consulting with private Inventors since 2004 to assist in bringing new inventions to life! Vernon Johnson Engineering Services also occasionally provides Advanced level Computer Networking and Systems Engineering services to Clients with challenging Computer needs.  For the time being, Vernon Johnson Engineering Services will remain independent for existing Consulting contracts.  New Consulting contracts will be fulfilled through Engineer LLC.

There may be other ventures in the future that will emerge as projects or ventures of Engineer LLC as well.

The new web presence for Engineer LLC is hosted by Dreamhost. I have been using them for 7 years (ever since I started publishing public web content) and must say I am a very satisfied customer. This blog you are reading right now is hosted on Dreamhost. If you are considering opening a new web Hosting account, I strongly recommend Dreamhost. Should you choose to use their services, use the promo code NEWUSER2012 and you will get an additional discount when you create a new account with Dreamhost. Full Disclosure: I do receive a small referral fee for referring new customers.

Vernon Johnson

January 24, 2012

New Developments in Embedded Systems

The circuit pictured here is a custom control device for an automotive application.  While the detail of the application is confidential, some common knowledge facts are significant to note for anyone interested in the current state of the art in this field.  It encompasses several recent advancements in Embedded Control System integration.  At the heart of the circuit is the Microchip PIC32MX360F512L, a 32 bit MCU implementing the MIPS 32 architecture in a highly integrated single IC.  The system includes a full compliment of analog and digital I/O with a minimum of external circuitry.

A recent PIC32 Control System Design

For example: The Power Outputs are a good example of the simplicity available today.  The large double sided copper lands at center right are actually all the heatsink needed by the power MOSFET output drivers to support output currents of 3A per channel.  Those Power FETs are driven directly by the MCU.

While the PIC32MX is a 3.3v device, the outputs are “5v Tolerant”.  This feature facilitates things like driving the Power FETs directly.

Another nice feature is the capability to perform some DSP style filtering.  This allows the electronic signal filtering on the Analog Inputs to also be minimized.

The PIC32MX is provides an excellent mix of full features and low cost. While it may cost a bit more than the venerable 8 bit MCUs that still dominate the sector, I am finding a general ability to design with fewer external support components that offsets some of the cost. It also helps to have more headroom for programming. In some cases that turns out to be a more significant cost factor than the parts.

Vernon Johnson, Engineer LLC

My view on SOPA

SOPA, the Stop Online Piracy Act is another ill conceived proposed regulation before the US House of representatives in the first Quarter of 2012. It seeks to suppress illegal copying and distribution of Protected content by applying a blanket approach and further restrictions.

As history often repeats itself I am reminded of “Once upon a time” when I received very little SPAM through email.  Then along came the CAN-SPAM act and suddenly my SPAM volume increased 100 fold!  Heck of a Job, Congress!  In that case, Congress was lobbied by some of the most egregious offenders who had already made a lot of money spewing SPAM to craft the legislation in their favor.

Now we have people telling Congress that to save the integrity of Internet, we must add further restrictions.  Well for one the major ISPs are all for it.  It can serve as a justification to further stratify the levels of service to restrict the volume of information to those who cannot afford to pay more.  Most are already doing this, by the way.

Hey Congress!!!  It’s already like the Wild West on ROIDS in cyberspace.  Restricting facets of what is currently accepted practice will most assuredly only make things worse.  The cyber criminals out there are not going to play by your rules.  If you narrow what is allowed, it will only effectively be a handing over what was and is no longer allowed to them.  In my work I do battle with the evildoers on the Internet almost every day.  I sure don’t lack for work of this nature, so thanks but no thanks.  Please don’t make my job even harder.

Vernon Johnson, Engineer LLC

Hello world!

It’s January 5th, 2012 and Engineer LLC is alive!  Engineer LLC has been created to help new and helpful invention come to life.

Our Mission statement:

Engineer LLC will create and help in the creation of new inventions that seek to be helpful to Mankind.  We place an emphasis on design of products that tread lightly on our one Planet. We strive to conduct business in a fair and honest manner with respect for all.