boulevard/21-11-12_hem
 

A visit to HEM – Part 2

16.12.2021 // Finn Corvin Gallowsky

The USB microcontrollers of new Ferrum models run with a self-implemented software. Jarosław Jabłoński programs final details for a test run
The USB microcontrollers of new Ferrum models run with a self-implemented software. Jarosław Jabłoński programs final details for a test run

The self-made adapter in the headphone jack can be found on every device on the engineers' desks. Should they ever make a severe mistake when wiring the electronics, the adapter protects the headphones and, thanks to a gain switch, the ears as well. Two devices are connected to the two additional interfaces on the circuit board, which can be used to read out various status messages for software development purposes
The self-made adapter in the headphone jack can be found on every device on the engineers' desks. Should they ever make a severe mistake when wiring the electronics, the adapter protects the headphones and, thanks to a gain switch, the ears as well. Two devices are connected to the two additional interfaces on the circuit board, which can be used to read out various status messages for software development purposes

In addition to hardware development, software also plays an enormously important role in this context. Here, too, thinking and developing happens to be very modular. The software should be as independent as possible from the hardware. I ask Paweł Gorgoń to explain some details about their software development to me. Ideally, software should lead to more simplicity and user-friendliness. As a good example serves the direct selection of preconfigured voltages for different devices used on the HYPSOS. Also the reaction of the device to different control parameters, which would be extremely complicated to realize by a circuitry, can be performed much better by an effective software. Depending on what and where the software picks off and subsequently processes, it must in any case be ensured that the software does not have a negative impact on the sonic qualities of a device. For this purpose, a three-layer architecture is generally used. Since I don't know much about software development, Paweł tries to simplify the topic as best as possible. Ultimately, the lower layer constitutes the direct interface to the electronics, and here only data is processed for the time being. The second, middle layer, which acts as the logic layer, accesses and interprets the data of the lower layer. The last, i.e. upper layer, contains the graphical user interface, which compiles all the information clearly understandable for the user. The layers operate interdependently from top to bottom, but not vice versa. This way the concept can be adapted relatively quickly to different devices. For example, the data layer "only" needs to be tuned to new interfaces, while the logic layer and the graphical user interface can resume their work unchanged. Conversely, the entire graphical user interface, for example, can be redesigned without having to recreate any data interfaces or interpretation mechanisms. In reality, of course, this process is much more complicated, and the software is tested and optimized over and over again before it is uploaded onto a device prototype for the first time. The risk of errors destroying the entire board or individual components is too high. Then, after the software has been installed for the first time, still further debugging has to be carried out, as it happens to be called in the parlance used by computer sciencists. Various interfaces are available on the boards for this purpose, to which external devices can be connected, which then deliver status messages and datasets to the connected computer. All programming is done in the programming language C++ on a development server. This allows several developers to work on the same software at the same time. Changes are documented in a log and can then be reviewed or commented on by Paweł. If everything is correct, he releases the lines of code and they are permanently anchored in the software. From the development server, the completed software can then be distributed to the technicians, who upload it to the devices in the production process, or even made available to consumers as firmware. Head of Development Paweł is proud of the fact that the HYPSOS software now runs completely bug-free. All in all, it transpires that the basic substance of Ferrum is being consistently built up here. The development work, both on the software and hardware sides, is laying an important foundation stone for the entire product range still to come.

Paweł Gorgoń, Head of the Development Department, explains details of software development to me
Paweł Gorgoń, Head of the Development Department, explains details of software development to me

Artur Grdeń chats with me about the development of the HYPSOS and gives me insights into various development papers. On the left, some prototypes are stacked on each other
Artur Grdeń chats with me about the development of the HYPSOS and gives me insights into various development papers. On the left, some prototypes are stacked on each other


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