Aubrey Kagan

Engineering Manager
Born and raised in what was then Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe), Aubrey Kagan completed his electrical engineering degree at the Technion, Israel Institute of Technology, and obtained an MBA at the University of the Witwatersrand in South Africa. He immediately started working in electronics and was fortunate enough to be around as microprocessors made their first inroads into industry. He was initially involved with designing controllers for industry and mines, with projects encompassing coffee packaging machines, railroad communication controllers, hydrological data monitors, automatic calorimeters, and diamond sorters. The isolation of South Africa (geographically, economically, and later politically) allowed him to gain a wide range of experiences with many aspects of the industry, including analog and digital circuit design, the use of PCs (including the use of spreadsheets) to gather data, and the early use of CAD. Aubrey now lives in Canada. Here he originally worked on the specifications for the Canadarm 2 (the remote control arm on the International Space Station), but he is now involved with far less grandiose projects. He is Engineering Manager at Emphatec, a Toronto-based design house of industrial control interfaces, signal conditioners, and switch-mode power supplies. Micro experience includes Intel (8048, 8051, 8080, 8085), RCA (1802), Zilog (Z80, Z8), PIC (16Cxxx), Scenix (SX18), TI (TMS7000, MSP430), and Cypress (PSoC1/4/5). His specialty lies in blending the linear with the digital hardware and then processing in software. Aubrey has written several technical articles for Circuit Cellar and has contributed several design ideas to EDN and Electronic Design as well as an application note for Cypress Microsystems. He blogs for, Planet Analog and EE Times.He is also the author of "Excel by Example: A Microsoft Excel Cookbook for Electronics Engineers".


's contributions
    • To understand a problem caused by the interconnection of two ICs, I resorted to using tech support from the respective companies. The difference in their approach to a customer’s problem was stark.

    • Have you ever looked at a product and wondered if you would ever use it. Did you even wonder if anybody could use it? Sometimes those devices are harbingers of future developments and the evolved idea becomes a viable product. Still there are many that are solutions looking for a problem. Here are some that I have had doubts about.

    • Simply turning relays or solenoids on is so old school. New approaches allow for reduced power.

    • There are only five or so companies in the additive PCB printer business and no doubt quite a few more that use the milling machine approach. Is there a PCB printer in your future?

    • Everywhere you look there are switches- proximity switches, limit switches, activation switches, keyboard switches, and more. There are some convenient ways to interface to them when you are working in the industrial arena.

    • Having multiple LEDs flashing at different rates is not necessarily difficult.

    • Do designers actually try out their own designs?

    • Despite layout tools' check of netlists, a CAD design can include errors - normally as a result of human failing. A full check gives great benefit that increases the probability of getting it right the first time.

    • Driving inductive loads needs some precautions to prevent high voltage side effects.

    • A product is the sum of its parts, but the documentation does not necessarily reflect the same breakdown.

    • "\"... I have no idea what a linear solenoid is and how it differs from a regular solenoid ...\"\n\nI found the answer. See \"Signal Chain Basics #128: Optimizing solenoid control with precision current measurement\" on Planet Analog\nhttps:\/\/\/author.asp?section_id=483&doc_id=564684&piddl_msgid=144420#msg_144420\n\n\n"

    • "There is a recent Idea for Design that talks about this topic\n\"Use Current to Drive Solenoid, Relay from Array of Voltages\" by James Lockridge\nhttp:\/\/\/power\/use-current-drive-solenoid-relay-array-voltages\n"

    • "@Ryan\n\nNot that I mind being mistaken for Max (Clive) Maxfield, and it's understandable given the format of the blog I pointed to, but I should point out that I am not he.\n\n-Aubrey (Kagan)"

    • "@Elizabeth\n\nThe Debug\/release problem is still with us these 40 years later. I have recently had several run-ins with the Keil ARM compiler for the PSoC where the program ran in debug but failed in release as a result of different optimization approaches. I am mulling over whether to build my complaints into a blog."

    • "I wrote a blog on a similar subject some time ago\n\nHow It Was: Programming (and debugging) microprocessors\n\nhttp:\/\/\/author.asp?section_id=14&doc_id=1285606"

    • "@Ryan\n\nSorry- I missed your wink."

    • "The author consistently mis-names the programmable memory as EEPROM. As is shown in the photo they are EPROMs. EE= electrically eraseable and so would not need UV light. EPROM= Erasable Programmable etc.\n\nAnd no, EEPROM was not originally intended for program storage, but for non-volatile data storage. It was slow and was at least an order of magnitude smaller capacity than EPROM. Back then non-volatile memory in the embedded space was battery backed CMOS RAM. \n\nIt may be someone had some long term vision to replace UV with EE, but there were precious few micros that ended up with EEPROM and the electrical erasure really came about with the evolution into Flash memory.\n"

    • "I have just come across a different approach to this topic. It is from a Maxim app note #6307\n\n\"Switching Inductive Loads with Safe Demagnetization\" which you can find at\n\nhttps:\/\/\/en\/app-notes\/index.mvp\/id\/6307"

    • "I use Word quite extensively, but I am sure there are still many features I still have to learn, so I look forward to your future blog. However I still find that whilst there are many great features, they don't always play well together- try getting automatic numbering to work within a table! The indent with automatic numbering is atrocious, and on and on.\n\nI am still playing with an idea of writing a series of blogs called \"Dear Mr Gates, Why does...\" pointing out the anomalies and quirks (I am being polite here) of Word and even Excel.\n\nHow I miss WordPerfect! I reckon even the DOS version worked better than many aspects of the modern version of Word."

    • "Ron\n\nI have written many test documents for the products that we produce, and looking at your presentation I can see how woeful they are. They can certainly upgraded and this is providing much food for thought.\n\nI do have some other constraints though, like if the product is going to be manufactured in China. I once produced a whole test procedure that worked with prompts on a PC. Everything was photographed and put into a document with Chinese text corresponding to each image that might appear."