C for Real-Time Developers

Course#: BSCP1000

About this Course

Course Type Course Code Duration
C BSCP1000 5 Days

Learning the C programming language is one thing, but learning how to use it effectively and appropriately in a real-time embedded environment is another. For many programmers, these skills are learnt the hard way, through trial and error on the job. This course addresses this issue by not only teaching the C programming language, but through emphasising the pragmatic use of C in a real-time environment. This is achieved through both lecture and direct hands-on experience.

Approximately 50% of the course is consists of writing code for a real target. During the week attendees will build up a complete solution to a case study that exercises all significant parts of the course.

Why Attend this Course?


The core C syntax and semantics
How to access hardware and program interrupts in the language
About memory and performance issues associated with C
How real-time operating systems (RTOS) affect the use of the language

What Makes this Course Stand Apart?

This course utilises target hardware during the embedded programming practical exercises. The target board is an ARM7-based microcontroller (NXP LPC2129) connected to an application board. Programming the target microcontroller to control the application board gives attendees a real-sense of embedded application development.

What you will Learn?

Upon completion of this course, you will be able to:

To provide an understanding of the essentials of the C programming language.
To give you practical experience of writing C for real-time and embedded systems.
To demonstrate the traps and pitfalls of the language when used in a real-time system.
To give you the confidence to apply these new concepts to your next real-time project.


This course is designed for engineers who are embarking on a project using C for the first time. It is also suitable for those needing to support a customer using C, and those requiring to be brought up to date since initially being taught at University.


Experience of programming, e.g. assembly language
Prior knowledge of C is useful but not essential

Course Outline

Introduction to Real-Time Systems
 Characteristics and demands of real-time software development
Introduction to C Programming
 Structure of a C program
 The C compilation process
Types and Operators
 C base types
 Precedence & associativity
 Arithmetic operations
Control Flow
 Logical expressions and operations
 Decision Making
 Loops
 Pointer basics
Bit Manipulation & Hardware Access
 Accessing hardware with pointers
 Manipulating information at the bit level
 General Purpose IO (GPIO)
 The Function as a logical program unit
 How parameters are passed
 Memory segments
Arrays, Pointers and Strings
 Arrays as circular buffers
 Relationship between pointers & arrays
 Pointer arithmetic
 C string handling

Device Interaction & Synchronization
 Polling devices
 Serial peripheral programming
Structures and Unions
 Structures
 Big & Little Endian
 Unions
 Using structures to access I/O devices
 Bit-field structures
 Internal & External interrupt control
 Nested Interrupts
 Priorities & Masks
 Software Interrupts
Dynamic Memory Management
 Malloc and free
 Issues (leaks, fragmentation, etc.)
Program Structure
 Definitions and declarations;
 Header files
 Scope and lifetime
The C Pre-Processor
 Macros
 Conditional Compilation
Type safety
 Conversions, promotions, truncation
 Considerations between different compilers & platforms.
Concurrency and multi-tasking
 Scheduling strategies
 Context switching
 Function pointers
 Task synchronisation and communication
 MMU and memory protection
 Concurrency and libraries
 Using a RTOS
The Standard C Library
Target Specific Considerations
 Language features affecting portability
 Non-standard C language features
 Assembly language interfacing
 What happens at power-on?
 Initialising the C runtime

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