How to get into embedded systems + PLC books?

Hello. I'm a software developer, but higher up the 'rung', doing mostly applications that work directly with commercial databases. I
want to get into embedded systems programming, and I'm wondering how to do so? I don't mean in terms of getting a job, but in terms of getting some hands on experience doing some home-brew projects and stuff.
I don't have much of an electrical background. The last book I've read on electronics is "There are No Electrons." Fun book, but that was a couple of years ago. Do I need to go over the basics of circuitry? If so, what's a good book for that?
Anyways, one thing someone told me to do is get into PLCs. So, I've done a search on Amazon.com, and almost all the books I've found are roughly 7 years or older, and their lab notebook supplements run on MS-DOS. Now, I don't know if the age is too outdated. I'm just wondering if there might be newer books on the subject, or have at least labs that run on newer OS.
Any feedback would be great. Thanks.
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DaLoverhino wrote:

A machine with a PLC in it is sort of an embedded system, but not what most embedded software engineers would think of as such.
I see all these questions about "how do I get into embedded systems". To me, they're kind of like "how do I start using bolts". Embedded systems aren't an end, they're a means. You shouldn't start a project thinking "how do I embed a processor in here". You should start a project thinking "how do I get this job done", and not be too surprised if the answer is "stick this processor in here and have it do this".
I would suggest that you subscribe to one or all of Circuit Cellar, Nuts & Volts, and Servo. These are all aimed at the intersection of serious hobbyist and small-company engineer. While none of them are specifically _embedded_ magazines, all of them have many embedded projects because that's the way many problems are solved today. After reading these for a while, a project will take your fancy, and you can go from there.
But please, whatever you do, don't try to replace the three control loops in a flush toilet with an embedded microprocessor. It is possible, but it's just not a good idea.
--

Tim Wescott
Wescott Design Services
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*Three* control loops?? I know of one, what are the others?
Cameron:-)
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Cameron Dorrough wrote:

I knew I'd get a rise out of that.
Don't you read the IEEE Control Systems Magazine?
The first control loop is the one that regulates the level in the tank, with the valve and float.
The second control loop is the one that delivers a measured amount of water then stops -- there's a float on the ball valve that holds it up until that tanks level drops below a certain amount.
The third control loop is the backup that keeps the tank from overflowing onto the floor when there's a leak -- there's a standpipe in there who's top is about 1/2 inch above the 'normal' shutoff; when you exceed the level of the standpipe the tank overflows into the drain.
The fourth control loop is the one that lets the water in the bowl up to a certain level but no farther -- there's an 's' bend in the waste pipe that accomplishes that.
Oops -- I miscounted too.
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Tim Wescott
Wescott Design Services
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I'll never look at my toilet the same way again... :P
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for PLC Book please visit my website www.vijayaundhekar.co.nr and in it see the PLC STUFF section
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I have about 10 years in the SCADA industry and about 6 of that in various R&D teams developing firmware and higher level software. If you want to get into embedded systems programming I would recommend getting a job and learning there. The problem is that there are so many different processors/microcontrollers/operating systems/compilers that most books written about embedded programming are specific to a particular set of processors etc. Embedded programming techniques tend to be specific to the IDE and platform. The best way is to get a development board and development tools (ide, compiler etc) and do extactly what you are doing now... just ask questions on these or other groups. A smart question to one person is a dumb question to another and vice versa. So just ask.. everyone knew nothing at some point.
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