Automating the Physical World with Linux, Part 3: Designing around System Failure

Bryce examines some of the causes of system failure and gives some tips on how to avoid it.

I hope this series ``Automating the Physical World with Linux'' has been enlightening to those new to the field of control automation. We've covered some essential concepts: building on simple algorithms such as those for lawn sprinklers, a control system can grow in complexity to control and monitor complicated tasks. Pairing Linux's well-established networking capabilities with such a coupled and distributed system allows coordinated automation functions over a large geographic area (such as our lavish resort). A control-system designer must also consider how vulnerable a system is to failure; system failures need to be identified and detected, and the customer may need to dictate how this is to occur.

Bryce Nakatani ( is an engineer at Opto 22, a manufacturer of automation components in Temecula, California. He specializes in real-time controls, software design, analog and digital design, network architecture and instrumentation.