Eastwater Systems Limited

Case Studies


About ESL

Eastwater Systems Limited have assisted clients in many ways over the years. Here are a few examples to demonstrate the diversity of our experience.

We offer a range of skills based on many years experience in embedded real-time software development. This includes hands-on quality management, version control and release management, bug tracking & software maintenance, automated testing, hardware integration and debugging – as well as the actual software development.

Embedded systems often need to communicate with custom programming and control software hosted on PC's, so that's covered too (using both Windows and Linux).

The following selected case studies are offered as indicators of the skills that ESL has brought to its clients over the years.

Case 1 – low-level hardware/software
An inter-processor comms link

The client, developing a sophisticated mobile radio handset, needed a reliable I2C  communication link between the main controlling microprocessor and a secondary co-processor. All attempts so far had failed to work, and development deadlines required the hardware layout to be approved for manufacture. Although the client had staff who were competent to do this work, they were all busy developing other software components.

ESL's consultant was able to focus on the specific problem, and through methodical  investigation identified hardware problems at both end of the link. The main processor had an intermittent problem in its embedded I2C controller (subsequently confirmed by the manufacturer), while the coprocessor had been factory-programmed with development firmware (in which the embedded I2C controller was wrongly programmed).

Having identified the problems, and in consultation with the processor manufacturers, ESL's consultant was able to develop reliable software drivers for the link, without disruption to the rest of the development.

Case 2 – quality management
A new QMS for a technology company

The client was a specialist electronics technology consultancy. They wished to gain certification to ISO9001:2000, and were determined that their quality system would provide real benefits to their business and employees. They had clear ideas on what needed doing, and the basis of a quality system already in place. However, they needed an experienced engineer to oversee the final stages: to ensure that the system did not impede efficient development; to fine-tune the written documents and ensure that they described what really happened; and crucially, to carry out formal internal auditing to ensure that everyone was correctly using the system.  

Although they had their own staff who were capable of doing this, they preferred to use an external consultant, who could take an independent view and not be deflected or distracted by pressure from other development work.

ESL's BSI-trained consultant worked part-time within the client's business over a considerable period of time, fine tuning, re-writing and auditing the system. When the time came for the formal external audit, the company was awarded its ISO9001 certification with no reservations. This being complete, the client chose to employ a quality manager to maintain the system, and ESL provided the necessary introduction and training for a smooth transition.

Case 3 – automated testing
An automated protocol test system

The client, a major overseas manufacturer of mobile radio systems, was designing a new trunked mobile radio. They needed to test this against the relevant specification (MPT1352), but a conventional test rig would be very expensive and time-consuming to set up and use, requiring specialist radio test equipment to be dedicated to the task.

ESL was asked to provide an all-software solution that could be integrated directly into the software protocol stack, and allow automated testing and analysis to be done.

ESL's consultant worked closely with the client's software developer and test engineer to design a workable system. As the client was located outside the UK, all work was done using the Internet and phone calls. The agreed solution entailed modifying and extending the client's existing PC communications package (coded in C), and writing a new script-driven program that would allow the client to define codewords, messages and message sequences, along with their expected responses (coded in Perl).  

The delivered system went well beyond the client's original expectations, and allowed unattended protocol testing to take place every night during the development period, instead of the more common once per release cycle.

Case 4 – software development process
A replacement version control system

A company developing hardware and embedded software had been using PVCS for version control, but due to expansion were facing a massive bill to purchase additional licences and updates. They wished to switch to the modern “Subversion” open-source version control system.

ESL's consultant reviewed their current software and hardware design processes, and recommended a repository structure that would accommodate their needs. This was implemented on an existing server, and the consultant then provided one-to-one instruction to a software engineer to migrate a current development project to the new repository. (This user had been selected to become the client's Subversion “expert”.)  

On completion of the initial migration, the consultant then delivered training to the rest of the company's engineers.  

Case 5 – network server scripting
A modified and improved filtering script

The client here was a specialist networking consultancy whose customer, a major Internet Service Provider, needed software changes to a filtering script to implement a new service.

The ESL consultant was able to adapt the original script (written in Ruby) to accommodate the new protocol, and assist in its integration into the user's environment. Having successfully demonstrated the new functionality, he was then asked to tidy up the original code and improve its efficiency. The resulting re-work of the logging system not only helped the end user to fine tune the system, it also identified previously undetected bugs elsewhere in the user's infrastructure. 

For further information on how Eastwater Systems Limited can help your development effort, please contact us for an initial discussion.