Commercial embedded project design suggestions about sw and hw

Thread Starter


Joined Dec 25, 2013
My company is about to start design a new embedded control system for one of our product.
We are already in touch with some embedded design companies who will design the sw and the hw but I would like to have opinions about how his kind of project can be implemented.
So are going to design a simple control system with an 7" Touch screen and an IO board.
The IO board will have around 20 relays, 20 DI and 5 AI and this is pretty straightforward but the touch screen part is a little be confusing since there are some many options for software and hardware.

One option is to use a Panel PC with with like the ones below:

Or mayby to use a Single Board Computer with a separate touch screen like below:{{--o_ultra_single_board_computers/mio-2260/mod_9ff2b0f4-aa29-417a-880c-689c688adaec

The requirement are not too hard for the control system as it should be able to show the graphics on the 7" display, have a web server for accessing the parameters and sending alarm and be able to implement IoT in the future and GSM communication.

For software the range is even broader as there are some many operating systems Windows Embedded, Linux core, Ubuntu, Yocto, Android etc.

I would like to read some suggestions from people who have worked on similar projects...



Joined Dec 2, 2013
The first thing to is to define what you expect from the system.
a: how you see it operational and what technical qualifications are needed to operate or alter the process. ( engineer Phd. Mcs ?)
b: define the user interface and environmental spec's.
c: alarm, emergency, overrule and error situations what could occur.
d: describe in detail (or have done) the interfaces needed to connect to your hardware.
e: write down all the function(s) of the unit.

Information above will be an input to the design department and I can ensure that may questions will occur during the design process.


Thread Starter


Joined Dec 25, 2013
All these have already been defined and the specifications set.
This system has been working for the last 10 years using a PLC and a industrial HMI but we have decided to move to a more application specific solution and modernize the system. I have also just started my masters in robotics and one of the subject is Embedded systems.
I'm interested to know why would anyone choose Linux or Windows Embedded for such application? Is it something that depends on the preference of the designer or there are other parameters as well?
How would the single board computer could communicate with the IO board? i2c, spi or something else?


Joined Aug 17, 2017
Choice of operating system is subjective to an extent. A lot depends on the application requirements. Assuming the candidates meet the requirements, then things like developer familiarity/availability, availability of hardware, availability of SW modules (like drivers), development environment, long term vendor commitment and so on are determinants. Personally, I'd be suspicious of windows embedded. It's not a Microsoft mainstream product, who knows how long they will support it. At least with Linux, you can get the source code and there's lots of expertise out there.

Something to consider is the long term. It's one thing to get a project done. But what happens in 1, 2, 5, 10 years? Will you be adding features or supporting new/different applications? Adding new hardware? How will the system be supported? How well does the design anticipate that?

Personally, I would bring the work in house. When you hire a 3rd party to design and build a product, you lose the expertise upon delivery. No amount of contractual requirements can keep the developers around. I'd at least have one or two developers that work for you on the project team. Then you have a shot at retaining the expertise.