How to build your own Embedded-System from scratch? Part 1

By claudio

Hi there. Have you ever thought on making your own embedded board with a running linux on it? If you were able to answer this question with yes, then this blog post series could be potentially of interest for you.

In this series i will show you how i made my own custom board. Beginning from the part selection up to the layout with Altium-Designer, going on with assembling the first prototypes and then doing some first HW-Tests.

After testing the HW and making sure, that everything works properly, we will go on with the porting process of our newly created board to the latest linux kernel. Or should i better say, porting linux to our board?

Anyway it will end up in having a running Debian-Linux on our custom board.

Boards specification:

  • 100x100mm in size
  • Ethernet 10/100MBits
  • i.MX6 Processor
  • 256MB DDR3 RAM
  • On-Board Powersources
  • Custom PMU based on a STM8 microcontroller
  • JTAG-Interface
  • Some LEDs and Buttons for debugging
  • USB-UART (FT230XQ)

If you would like to follow this course by designing your own board during the reading of the article, then you will need the following tools:

  • Paper and Pencil
  • Coffee
  • Computer with Windows and Debian based (Ubuntu is ideally) Linux
    at least a virtual machine with Ubuntu.
  • General Coding skills. You don’t need to code that much. It generally helps to follow my explanations and to better understand the concept.
    It also makes editing or adapting some files more easy.
  • E-CAD tool like Altium-Designer or Cadence. These two tools are not that cheap. But you could also go with a tool like Circuitmaker, which is Free of cost and is quite good. It will not let you define some special rules during layout. But it will do the job way better than eagle would.
  • More Coffee 😉 Of course. It took me several weeks to get my board finished. Thanks to my guide, hopefully you will be able to do it in much less that time.
  • Lab powersupply, multimeter (a 20 Dollar one will do the job!) Oscilloscope would be very great but is not a must.
  • SD-Card with at least 4GB of capacity. Take a fast one (Class 10 or more) this saves a lot of your lifetime 😉
  • JTAG-Debugger like a J-Link. Not absolutely necessary but extremely helpful!

In the next article i will tell you more about the rough overview from the system. I will also show you a block diagram.

Keep on reading. See you next time!