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PSoC3 - a PieSe of Cake? | Cypress Semiconductor

PSoC3 - a PieSe of Cake?

Someone said to me recently that PSoc Creator's comprehensive library of 'virtual components', running atop PSoC3's flexible and high performance analogue blocks, makes design so easy that there's hardly anything to do except connect power and switch on.  Tongue-in-cheek, of course!  Every day, though, we see more examples of just how much easier the new PSoC design paradigm makes it, for engineers of all abilities.  Software engineers who were previously uncomfortable with analogue signal processing find PSoC a de-stressing experience.  And us older analogue guys are getting just as much of a buzz out of implementing many 'classic' signal conditioning techniques, often with a new twist enabled by the closely coupled microcontroller or the programmable logic arrays.

But that comment also took me back to when I was a young, green engineer, designing an antialiasing filter module for a particular customer.  It turned out that the customer also needed some gain in the signal path.  "No problem, boss!", I said, "I can incorporate that in the filter".  "Kendall," he replied, "you don't understand.  That's his job.  He's got to be able to contribute something to the project or he'll get the sack".  The particular moral of that story, brought up to date, is that when you design something with PSoC3, you should really try to do something yourself, rather than just take a completely engineered example circuit provided by us (or by one of your colleagues).

And sometimes, the idea that every single component can be internal to the device is too good to be true.  I've designed quite a few active filters to run on PSoC3's analogue blocks, and they require a sprinkling of external passive components - something extra for you to add, that might differentiate your solution from someone else's.  Just recently, I've spread my wings a little, thinking what cool things could be done if you allowed for instance one external transistor.  Now that transistors are available in such tiny packages (SOT-1123 is the smallest I've seen so far, at 1x0.6mm), they take up negligible extra space and cost.  So I'm thinking of running a little 'just add one transistor" contest, to see what people can come up with.  OK, and a two transistor one as well...

And in a funny way, that's why PSoC3 is related to cake, and not just by the daft pun in the blog title.  Take the classic marketing tale of Betty Crocker cake mixes.  They got far greater engagement from their customers when they adjusted the mix formulation so that you needed to complete it by the addition of an egg.  If the whole thing came out of a packet, housewives felt rather disenfranchised from their cooking territory.  So, I'm a great fan of designing things where it's almost all done for you, but you still need to flex a few brain cells to actually get it to work out.  You actually feel like you've done something then.

My daughter gave me another example that came right out of left field.  Making a cake out of cake mix (with or without an egg) is somehow rather conventional in comparison.  Why not make your cake - or your next electronic product - out of something completely unexpected.  Meet the Ice Cream Muffin:

Ingredients: one tub of good ice cream, any flavour you want; same-sized tub of self-raising flour

Method: soften ice-cream slightly; beat in flour until mixture is smooth; bake in a medium oven until cooked.

Just as easy as a cake mix, more 'programmable', more interesting, less expected... The moral: PSoC3 might well be a solution to your problem, even if at first glance the packet seems to say something completely different.  Right, now I'm going to bake some Caramel Chew-Chew muffins for the PSoC3 team!  Happy PieSe-of-Caking - Kendall

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