It all began when I was 21 years old and enrolled in 'Senior Design'; a course offered by most Universities in order to test basic concepts of your chosen engineering discipline. I have always had a passion for communications, and the idea of building an RS232 to Ethernet bridge seemed like a great way to begin learning about embedded system design. Having created a working sample, though it was left it with my teammate after graduation, I decided to recreate the project with more features and higher reliability. The project was later renamed from 'STEDS' (Serial to Ethernet Development System) to 'NI-1' (Network Interface 1) and finally 'Pack-it'. Pack-it is based on a Motorola MC9S12 (128k flash, 8k ram) microcontroller and a CS8900A Cirrus Ethernet controller. The firmware is completely written in assembly and has come along way since Senior Design. Pack-it supports Ethernet, ARP, IP, ICMP, UDP, DNS, DHCP, and a custom Pack-it Configuration Protocol.

Having graduated in 2002 from the University of Central Florida, I have held various contract positions and currently seek a more permanent employment opportunity. In the interim, I have enrolled in graduate school for the Spring of 2004.

Thanks for stopping by, below are some pictures taken throughout the Pack-it development cycle. I hope you enjoy. --Eric Shufro

Concept stand alone Ethernet board - PCB hand designed and milled on a milling machine provided by the University of Central Florida (Provided soldering experience for surface mount components)

Concept stand alone Ethernet board - front side (or is this the back? :)

First prototype hardware. More of a soldering test than anything else. The external cs8900 Ethernet controller is attached to an Atmel 8515. There is no onboard firmware to control the cs8900 at this time.

Early stand alone Ethernet controller - used external 'Kevin Ross' micro-controller board with primitive networking abilities.

Experimental combination micro-controller and Ethernet controller board - never worked.

Senior Design final hardware (August 2002) - Internet controlled power strip, front view.

Senior Design final hardware (August 2002) - If you look closely you can see a hand made relay board, a small microcontroller for serial to parallel IO conversion, the Ethernet controller and cable going to the back of the case, the Kevin Ross development board, a homemade 5v/12v power supply for relays and other electrical components, and a 120v -> 12v transformer.

After having given the senior design hardware to my teammate I built my own version of the external Ethernet controller card. This new version was much smaller than the original and used a floppy as opposed to an IDE sized connector.

I quickly realized that in order for this project to succeed, I was going to need set aside some dedicated work space for Pack-it and purchase some higher quality equipment (soldering iron, light etc).

Network Interface 1 (NI-1) the current firmware was built around this design.

First attempt at a non static device configuration. The NI Configurator was serial port driven as opposed to the smarter Pack-it Configurator which is network driven.

The first attempt to capture packets generated by Pack-it and load their data content into a SQL server for later retrieval by an ASP driven web page. This system had its share of glitches, though, laid the ground work for the far more robust Pack-it DBL.

Written for Shufro Security as the backend to the Alarm Information System.

This is when I received my block of 4096 IEEE MAC addresses.

Current Pack-it Technology hardware interface. Providing services such as Alarm Information, X10 extension, and many more.

The DBL tester was designed as a simulation tool for testing the Shufro Pack-it Database Loader. By allowing the manual transmission of various types of correct and malformed packets, the DBL could be hammered without the interaction of real Pack-it boards. This helped remove bugs which otherwise may never have been detected using a Pack-it board alone.

Ploper was designed as an early simulation tool for testing Pack-it compatibility with Shufro Security alarm systems. Before the Information web site was created, there needed to be a manual way of generating specific test packets. Broadcast based.

Remote Alarm is the update to Ploper which allowed for more advanced testing of the Pack-it / alarm system interface. This version allows multiple Pack-it enabled alarm systems to be tested on the same LAN without the use of the DBL or ASP backend (which didn't exist yet).

Using experience gained from the NI configurator, the Pack-it Configurator adds welcome features and ease of use to current Pack-it Technology. Network Driven.

Using experience gained from the NI DBL, the Pack-it DBL adds a vast amount of logging and error correction to the database backend. Should questionable data arrive, the Pack-it DBL can automatically query the system in question and get a fresh data update. This insures data synchronization between the alarm system and the database used to power the ASP driven web pages that are accessed by the end user for remote control of their alarm system.

The IEI Demo application was designed to aid in the demonstration of Pack-it Technology to Boston based IEI Inc. This application demonstrates Pack-it's ability to create Soft Switches which act as low voltage triggers that can be used to control applications anywhere in the world. See the presentation.

The IEI Demonstration Kit was made in conjunction with the IEI demo application and demonstrates the use of Soft Switches to control computer automated processes. The IEI demo software always reflects the same switch configuration as the shadow switches shown on the kit - even if you rapidly change the state of the switches or press several at a time!

New Pack-it Configurator. This one supoprts the newly implemented realtime clock functionality and adds some other new features. This is the main screen.
New Pack-it Configurator. The IP parameter screen for the previously selected device found on screen 1.

New Pack-it Configurator. The Device Settings screen. Has controls for most of pack-its options, like choosing input and output ports, etc...

Second of two batches of Pack-it boards shipped.

So that's the history of Pack-it Development. Pack-it has served as an excellent project which has allowed me to acquire knowledge in many areas of product development such as planning, hardware and software design (including use of various PCB layout applications), hardware and software realization and testing, performance analysis and project budgeting.
Pack-it firmware can be easily be modified to suite custom applications. If you think Pack-it might fits your needs, but doesn't have all the features you want, contact me.