Our Embedded hardware Design Process

Our embedded hardware design process always starts with discussions with the client about their project, the technological requirements, schedule expectations, and their budget. Once this crucial step is completed, a requirements specification is written and the hardware design process commences. Typically, there are three phases for embedded hardware to be produced: a prototype phase, a pilot phase, and a production phase. On occasion, we recommend an initial "proof-of-concept" phase which is prior to the prototype phase. This is a phase of the project where inexpensive "off-the-shelf" evaluation printed circuit boards (PCBs) are purchased and wired together to prove that the proposed design solution will meet the set of requirements. This low-cost / low-risk / highly-valuable pre-design phase is utilized when a new technology is proposed or when we need to evaluate performance.

In the prototype phase, the requirements specification and block diagrams are translated into an electronic schematic and bill of materials (or parts list). A schematic is essentially a wiring diagram showing how all the electronic parts and integrated circuits are connected together. After holding reviews of the design with the client, we work with a mechanical engineer (we can recommend a colleague if needed) to make sure our hardware design will fit perfectly into the proposed product space.

A PCB is then designed and fabricated. Standard Zone 7 Engineering practice is to spend extra time during the design process to simulate the intended circuitry and fully understand / predict circuit behavior. This ensures prototype PCBs are as close as possible to the final version. This has been proven to save money for clients in the long run as opposed to having to design several costly iterations of the PCB later in the process. Electronic parts are also ordered at this time which are later soldered to the PCBs. Both fabrication and assembly are performed at our Contract Manufacturers (CMs) who are specialized and efficient at these tasks. A typical prototype build consists of 5-10 PCBs which is enough for testing and demonstrating to potential investors.

While waiting for the CM to generate prototypes, firmware is developed (if required) and can be simulated prior to having a live PCB to run on. Once the assembled PCBs are received from the CM, we perform a full suite of unit tests including validation of voltage regulators, clock oscillators, power-up initialization events, user interface, and any microprocessors on board. Firmware is loaded and the code tested by "single stepping" through each function verifying proper events at processor input/outputs.

Once unit testing is complete and the design is verified in a controlled environment, the prototypes are integrated into a larger assembly and tested in real-world conditions. Generally, there are firmware corrections and enhancements loaded onto the prototypes as integration proceeds. Occasionally, PCBs are re-spun to incorporate circuit enhancements or part changes

discovered during prototype testing​.

At this point, the prototypes (or re-spun PCBs) are fully tested and integrated into the near-final product. Prior to full production release, we always recommend a pilot phase build of 50-100 for beta testing. This gives the client the opportunity to sell or give the product to "friendly users" who will test the product as intended but agree to provide feedback which is critical for a successful product launch. This phase also provides an opportunity for the CM to perform a dry-run of the build prior to mass production.

Once the electronic design is ready for the production phase, Zone 7 Engineering assists in transitioning the design files to the CM of choice and then provides support on an as-needed basis.

embedded hardware design sERVICES OFFERED

Zone 7 Engineering is an embedded hardware and firmware design company experienced in a diverse range of specialized embedded systems. Solutions are user-friendly, cost-effective, and efficient. We provide embedded hardware systems and integration to industries including professional audio, healthcare, and end-consumer handheld meters.

Embedded Systems: Zone 7 Engineering has the expertise to design embedded systems for various electronic applications and provide comprehensive start-to-end electronics engineering services for your product design. This could be for something as simple as a musical instrument pre-amplifier to something more complex like a personal fitness smart device.

PCB Design: With electronic circuit design services that utilize cutting-edge PCB production technology from our select partners, Zone 7 Engineering enhances the design and manufacturing process, ensuring a seamless blend of efficiency and precision.

Electronic Circuit Schematic Design: We create the "blueprint" for circuits, ensuring seamless interaction among components. This crucial step is akin to the architectural plans for a building setting the foundation for a robust and functional electronic system.

Testing and Integration: Ensure the reliability of your devices with our rigorous embedded hardware testing and integration services. We meticulously validate each component thus providing optimal functionality. Our comprehensive approach minimizes errors, enhances performance, and ensures that your final product meets the highest standards, ready for seamless integration into the market.

Electronic Prototyping and Production Preparation: Accelerate your product development cycle with our electronic prototyping services. We can turn your ideas into tangible prototypes to facilitate design validation and refine your concepts before full-scale production. Our meticulous preparation ensures a smooth transition from concept to a market-ready electronic product.

Embedded Hardware Expertise

Our expertise extends across a range of projects, including:

- Handheld and remote meters

- OBD vehicle electronics

- Wired and wireless sensors

- High-performance audio capture/processing/reproduction and audio CODEC

- Medical wearable devices

- Low-power battery-driven electronics

- IoT device-to-server electronics and firmware (MQTT, HTTP/HTTPS/JSON protocols)

- Device-to-device electronics and firmware (BLE, ISM, WiFi, 4G, GPS)

- BLDC and BDC motor control

Technological Arsenal

Our streamlined development process includes regular utilization of the following processors and tools:

- Processors: ST Micro STM32F0 / STM32F1 /STM32F3 / STM32F4 / STM32F7, Analog Devices BlackFin BF70x DSP, SHARC 210xx, 214xx, and 2156x DSP

- Embedded IDE tools: IAR EWARM, Analog Devices CrossCore Embedded Studio (CCES)

- Embedded IP libraries: Segger emWin GUI, Segger emFile FAT file system, SQLite, OBD Experts vehicle OBD-II, Micrium uC/OS-II RTOS, FreeRTOS, MicroDigital smxFS FAT file system, Closed Loop Design (CLD) USB Audio, Adaptive Digital Noise Reduction

- Interface: SPI, I2C, I2S, CANbus, UART, A/D, D/A, PWM, SDRAM, RGB TFT LCD, SAI, USB

- Wireless: uBlox NINA-B4 BlueTooth, SimCom SIM7500 LTE, uBlox MAX-M8 GNSS, Sierra Wireless BC127 Bluetooth, Telit HE910 3G, Linx Technologies GNSS / GPS, Roving Networks RN171 WiFi, Atmel ATWINC1500 WiFi, TI CC1101 sub-1GHz ISM band, MicroChip RN4020 Bluetooth Smart / Low Energy (BLE)

- Schematic capture: OrCAD

- PCB CAD software: PADS and Altium

- Drawing tools: AutoCAD LT

- Analog simulation tools: CircuitLab

- Version control: SubVersion and GIT

Who is Zone 7 Engineering?

At Zone 7 Engineering, we offer a comprehensive suite of electronics engineering services that covers project planning, circuit design, embedded firmware development, prototyping, and production-readiness. We specialize in crafting solutions that push the boundaries of technology. With a foundation built on excellence, innovation, and a commitment to client success, we are your go-to partner for bringing cutting-edge electronic systems to life.

Founder David Ashman, is a senior level electronics engineer with extensive experience in the design of digital & analog circuitry incorporating various microprocessors/DSPs, and the development of embedded C/C++ firmware.

Zone 7 Engineering stands out as a prominent company in the field of embedded electronic hardware design and firmware development. We excel in creating specialized embedded systems and offer a diverse array of services tailored to meet the needs of startups and large companies alike.

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Ready to get your electronic systems off the ground?

Zone 7 Engineering can help realize a project from conception, optimize an existing design, add security solutions, or consult with clients on commercialization. David Ashman and his small team of professionals design embedded hardware and firmware solutions that meet client requirements, schedule, and budget.