How about writing a guest post?

I admit it… my attention has wandered from electronics since I retired almost a decade ago… you can follow the link to Wood Islands Prints if you want to see where my attention has gone. Don’t get me wrong, I am grateful for the small but steady number of purchases of my C and the 8051 book that have continued despite the older version being (illegally) available on line and, I understand, a scanned version of the current edition as well. If you are economically challenged you have my blessing to go that way even though producing a paper copy must cost about as much as buying the official, nicely-bound book.

But I digress. I am starting to wonder what has been happening in the embedded microcontroller field lately. Have very high levels of integration made efficiency obsolete? Are high-end processors driving out the ‘ancient’ 4-bit processors? Has assembly language and C been replaced by very high-level languages in the field? Has surface-mount made most discrete electronics obsolete? These are the questions that plague me… on those rare occasions when my attention comes here.

So, what I am hoping is that some of you…from the at-least 10 visits a day, there must be someone listening… will come forward to offer guest posts on what has happened and where you think the embedded control field is going. I will be happy to edit whatever you provide if writing is not your strong suite, and surely give you full credit. If you are interested, contact my via email at

Web site traffic!

I have no idea who is out there visiting this site, but I find 15-20 visits a day…double or triple the visits to the other three sites I maintain. What really confuses me is the fact that no one adds comments here and I haven’t put up new posts for weeks, yet the visits continue. Granted the site has been in existence for over a decade, but other than being directed to buy the book or the target microcontroller board, there seems to be no basis for such regular traffic!

If you are visiting I would welcome any hints as to why you arrived here…unless you are spamming with ads for purses or Viagra!

Microcontroller communication today?

As personal computer technology continues to evolve, I have wondered if my book is becoming hopelessly obsolete in the area of communications. As levels of circuit integration increase, I have this vague dread that my emphases on efficiency have been trampled down by the march of technology. Even a decade ago Silicon Labs was showing what could be done when the lowly 8051 microcontroller became simply the ‘core’ of an IC with hosts of additional features…analog input and output, huge number of I/O pins, timers almost without number, and a USB interface to keep port pins free…and the cost declined to the point where using older versions of the 8051 with additional wired-in devices became of questionable economic value.

So I am asking for input on the communication section of C and the 8051. I devote several chapters to RS-232 as well as other low-performance protocols. These are extremely efficient, using only a couple of port pins and low enough speed to have no wire routing issues, but you can barely find anything on a PC that is that primitive. Is there still any use for simple microcontroller-to-microcontroller communication, or should all attention shift to USB? As I say in the chapter on USB, it is complex beyond imagination. Admittedly the newer versions of USB demand backwards compatibility with the very slow modes, but the entire process of exchanging a message seems quite cumbersome. Are the newest devices coming with completely pre-programmed USB controllers so the microcontroller designer only leaves off a message for the separate sub-system to handle?

In short, is anyone willing to make comments on the present state of microcontroller communication?

How are you using this book?

I would like feedback

For about 8 years the 3rd and 4th editions of C and the 8051 have been for sale and I’m guessing well over a thousand copies have been sold. Yet in all those years I have never had any feedback on the book…what it is used for…what things you like about it…what things you dislike…which sections do you use and which have you ignored. When I put together the 3rd edition I combined the contents of several earlier books (hardcover, published by Prentice Hall) and took out most of the assembly language to focus on C. In addition I included large sections about multitasking, serial  communications and electronic interfacing. In addition, with the significant improvement in ease of development with the Silicon Labs boards, I narrowed the examples down to two boards in their family (I got to know the boards before the start-up invention company was acquired by SL).

The closest thing to ‘feedback’ I have gotten is the couple of reviews on Amazon (which are mostly positive except for someone who thinks these editions have too many footnotes…clearly based on the earlier editions).

So here’s my request. If you are reading this blog, please either comment below or email me ( telling me if you use the book in a class (describe the class a little bit) or for hobbies, or for work (telling us a little about what you do if your company allows). Also, what target hardware do you use. In any case, please  identify what parts of the book are relevant to your uses.

Thank you.