Heating control embedded system development

Since 2005 we have provided embedded software solutions for a range of industry sectors including military and aerospace, industrial automation and telecommunications. From embedded software and system development, to software porting and software optimisation, we can satisfy most requirements.

The following project showcases part of our extensive capabilities:

Customer need

Existing unit to control heating in large, multi-area buildings was reaching end of useful life due to hardware component obsolescence.

A replacement unit was needed at lower cost and with a long service life.

The challenge

Minimal specifications for functional requirements – determined by observing behaviour of existing unit.

Timescales for introduction of new unit were tight – client needed continuity of supply when limited stock of existing hardware ran out.

Replacement unit had to be a drop-in replacement for existing units.

Hardware and software design carried out in parallel to minimise overall development time.

Hardware design needed to support additional features for future expansion: Ethernet, USB, etc.

Our solution

Selected highly-integrated ARM Cortex-M3 microcontroller to act as the core of the control unit.

Designed and developed new hardware for control unit. Reverse-engineered design of application software – from the hardware upwards.

Developed device drivers for the new hardware including interfaces to asynchronous serial, CAN, and I2C buses and an LCD/keypad front panel.

Ported existing application software (running on 8-bit processor) to the new 32-bit platform.

Adapted application software to improve modularity and portability.

Tested additional hardware capabilities not used by application software.

The outcome

New unit entered service on schedule and with no known problems.

New unit is easier to install and maintain: supports in-the-field software upgrade without special development tools.

Software now easier to maintain and port to different hardware in future.

Client has engaged Pebble Bay for further projects based on this hardware design.