Below is a preview of our week-by-week plan for the entire quarter. There may be slight adjustments and rearrangements as we go. The schedule for the final project is set and will not change.

In the readings below, K&R refers to Kernighan and Ritchie's classic text The C Programming Language (accessible via Stanford's subscription to Safari Books Online). Nick Parlante's EssentialC is another great C reference. Please do the recommended readings before lecture for best effect!

Date Topics/Readings
Week 1
Mon 1/9
Introduction and Welcome ( slides)


Lab/assign Lab 0: Orientation Assignment 0: Git oriented ( writeup)
Fri 1/13
ARM processor and architecture ( slides, code )
Week 2
Mon 1/16
ARM assembly and machine code ( slides, code )
Lab/assign Lab 1: Setup your Raspberry Pi ( writeup)

Please do the Lab 1 prelab preparation before coming to lab.

Assignment 1: Implement a Larson Scanner ( writeup)
Fri 1/20
From Assembly to C ( slides, code )
  • Review sections A3.2 and A3.3 on conditional execution and branch instructions from the ARM Instruction Set manual
  • Our one-page guide to ARM.
  • Brush up on C basics (syntax, data types, operators, control structures) via your favorite C reference; sections 1-2 of Nick Parlante's EssentialC; or chapters 1, 2, and 3 of K&R. Skip content on I/O and standard libraries (we are bare metal!)
  • Read Dennis Ritchie's account of the history of C
  • Try out the Compiler Explorer demoed in lecture
  • Read our guides on make and gcc
Week 3
Mon 1/23
C Pointers and Arrays ( slides, code )
  • Before lecture, read EssentialC chapters 3 (skip material on structures) and 6 (skip material on the heap and memory management) or K&R 5.1-5.4. C-strings are primitive compared to Java/C++ strings; take note of the manual effort required to use and pitfalls to avoid.
  • C volatile can be subtle and tricky. See GeeksForGeeks advice on correct use and John Regehr's blog on what NOT to do with volatile
Lab/assign Lab 2: Below C Level ( writeup)

Prelab to prep before lab.

Assignment 2: Implement a Clock ( writeup)
Fri 1/27
C Functions ( slides, code )
Week 4
Mon 1/30
Communication and the Serial Protocol ( slides, code )
  • Read about characters and strings, IO functions (putc,puts,printf), and structures (Sections 1.5, 1.6, 1.9, 5.5, 6, 7 in K&R; or Section 3 in EssentialC).
  • Poul-Henning Kamp's essay on The Most Expensive One-byte Mistake. Did Ken, Dennis, and Brian choose wrong with NUL-terminated text strings?
  • Read Sparkfun's tutorial on serial communication.
Lab/assign Lab 3: Debugging and Testing ( writeup)

Prelab to prep before lab.

Assignment 3: Implement a String Formatting Library ( writeup)
Fri 2/3
Modules, Libraries, and Linking ( slides, code )
Week 5
Mon 2/6
Memory Management ( slides, code )
  • Read our overview of ARM stack frames
  • Review dynamic memory allocation (malloc/free in C) and the operation of the heap (K&R 5.6-5.9 or Essential C Section 6). Consider the comparison/contrast between stack and heap allocation and use cases for each.
Lab/assign Lab 4: Linked and Loaded ( writeup)

Prelab to prep before lab.

Assignment 4: Backtrace and Malloc ( writeup)
Fri 2/10
C Mastery ( slides, code )

We've crossed the halfway point! We will use this lecture to catch-up/expand on lecture content covered lightly on first pass, and discuss how to further your mastery of C.


Week 6
Mon 2/13
Keyboards and the PS/2 Protocol ( slides, code )
  • Read Adam Chapweske's overview of the PS/2 protocol for keyboards and mice.
Lab/assign Lab 5: Keyboard Surfin' ( writeup)

Prelab to prep before lab.

Assignment 5: Keyboard and Simple Shell ( writeup)
Fri 2/17
Graphics and the framebuffer ( slides, code )
Week 7
Mon 2/20
Presidents Day
Lab/assign Lab 6: Drawing into the Framebuffer ( writeup)

Prelab to prep before lab.

Assignment 6: Graphics Library and Console ( writeup)
Fri 2/24
Interrupts ( slides, code )

In this first lecture on interrupts, we'll focus on the low-level mechanics and what needs to happen at the assembly level to enable and process an interrupt.

Week 8
Mon 2/27
Interrupts, cont'd ( slides, code )

Now we move up to the higher-level abstractions for interrupts, including library support for managing interrupt handlers and best practices for interrupt-safe code.

Lab/assign Lab 7: Raspberry Pi, Interrupted ( writeup)

Prelab to prep before lab.

Assignment 7: System Monitor with Interrupts ( writeup)
Fri 3/3
Sensors ( slides, code )
Week 9
Mon 3/6
Project design and future adventures ( slides)

Anna and Liana will lead a joint session on planning for final project and looking ahead to future adventures.

Lab/assign Lab 8: Project Team Meeting 1 ( writeup)
  • Prelab to prep before lab.
  • Lab will be a project work session. Plan to attend same lab session as your teammates.
Final Project ( writeup)
Fri 3/10
Computer Arithmetic ( slides, code )

Representation of signed and unsigned numbers, types and type conversion.

Week 10
Mon 3/13
Multithreading and memory systems
Lab/assign Lab 9: Project Team Meeting 2 ( writeup)
  • Lab will be a project work session. Plan to attend same lab session as your teammates.
  • Bring your PS/2 keyboard and plug board to return to us.
Fri 3/17
Wrap or There and Back Again ( slides)
  • We'll wind back to the beginning of the quarter and show you how far you've come.
  • We'll talk about learning, making, engineering, and what can lie ahead.
Week 11
Final Project
Demo session Fri 3/24 at 9:00 am
Code submission due Fri 3/24 at 11:59 pm