Designing an electronic device from the ground up can be complicated, even for the experienced engineer. Incorporating a microprocessor and other complex components, whether single-board or modular, may introduce major pitfalls that are easy and important to avoid.
1. Easy console access
It may be extraneous to the operation of the completed design, but including a serial communication port can save significant debugging effort and delay during board bring-up; arguably, as important as the JTAG port. Without direct console access, debugging can quickly become challenging and time-consuming. USB-to-UART converters, such as FTDI’s FT232R, are popular, inexpensive, and compact solutions that bring console access to a board. Their ubiquity in tiny digital electronic devices is a testament to their usefulness.
2. Power requirements
Power lies at the heart of any design, but it’s especially important when working with tiny, portable devices. To keep costs down and minimize power consumption, choosing the right combination of components with compatible or complementary voltage levels is a must. Optimizing components in this way saves on space and component costs by eliminating many unnecessary voltage regulators and power supplies.