HD Associates

(Currently under construction)

Who We Are: 

HD Associates is a software and systems engineering and development company that was founded in 1987 by Gregory Hirshan and Peter Dufault. Our target markets include but are not limited to, medical equipment control, semiconductor capital equipment, and Military control systems.  HD primarily works with New England based companies but can go on-site if necessary. 

What We Work On: 

Our areas of expertise include:

· Real-time and embedded control systems for real-time kernels, real-time UNIX, MS-Windows and MS-DOS

· Medical instruments and FDA approval

· Laboratory instruments

· Multi-processor control systems

· Digital motion and process control

· UNIX, MS-Windows and MS-DOS applications and internals

· Data acquisition, processing and display

· Communication protocols for semiconductor and medical instruments

· Digital signal and image processing

· Diagnostics and automated testing

· High bandwidth I/O

· Cross development environments

· Language translators

· User interfaces

· Software tools

Who We've Worked With:

HD Associates has had the fortune of working with a broad range of clients.  Nearly all of our business has been obtained through referrals from satisfied clients or continuing work with existing clients.  The following is a description of the work we have done for some of our major clients.

Seacoast Technologies, Portsmouth, NH 

(June 2004- Present)

HD worked on a microprocessor controlled version of Seacoast’s Chiller, 

a device designed to provide neuroprotection by chilling the surface of the brain in settings such after an operation or following brain trauma.  The device is controlled by an embedded PC running the RTEMS real time executive and using Microwindows as the display interface. The multi-threaded software is flash based and written in C++ and C.

We worked with Seacoast in designing the overall system for medical safety and selected the software environment. 

Meridian Medical Systems, Bath, ME

(August 2003-Present)

HD worked on the Oncoscan, a device to collect and analyze radiometric information to look for breast cancer markers.  The device consists of a Windows user interface that guides a technician through the process and collects and displays the information connected to a microprocessor based data acquisition system.  The User Interface is written in C++ using Tcl/Tk for the GUI driver, and runs on WIN32, OS/X Darwin, and FreeBSD Unix with a native look-and-feel on each platform.

The data acquisition back-end can be run-time selected and supports an NI-DAQ add in card, a small PIC based data acquisition system, and a MPC565 based acquisition system.

RMS LLC, Bedford, NH

(March-April 2003)

HD developed a proof of concept prototype for RMS. This acoustic consumer device is based on the PIC18F452 microcontroller.  The software is developed in C++ on Mac OS X and tested on the target using the Microchip development system and Windows XP.

Wr also designed, built, and tested the prototype hardware and software now being used to present the concept to investors, and also developed a project plan with budget and schedule for the next phase of delivering prototype production units

Guardian Solutions, Sarasota, FL

(July 2002- February 2003)

HD worked with Guardian Solutions on a computer-aided surveillance system, a distributed, network based application written in C and C++ that runs on a combination of Linux and Windows XP.

We implemented a generic interface to pan tilt zoom cameras to incorporate new cameras, carried out general user-space Linux software development, developed the product specification with others, and worked on General startup-up support, such as manning trade booths and carrying out presentations.  

GSI Lumonics, Wilmington, MA

(May 2001- November 2002, August-September 2003)

HD worked on a GSI memory repair system that uses a laser to enable selected circuitry on memory chips in an integrated circuit fabrication line to increase chip yield.  The software is written in C++ and Tcl/Tk, runs on Solaris and VxWorks, and is distributed across multiple embedded Power PC based VME boards and the network.

We Ported preliminary software from WIN32 to VxWorks on a Power PC VME board, developed the software for the embedded control of the precision fine stage, developed a network accessible GUI written in C++ and Tcl/Tk that runs on FreeBSD, Linux, Solaris, and Windows XP, added the ability to collect large amounts of real-time data to a network disk on Solaris or FreeBSD system while a fine stage trajectory is running, and added the interface required for tuning control parameters for the fine stage

Abiomed, Danvers, MA

(May-September 2001)

HD worked on the user interface for a next generation Abiomed product.  The embedded platform is based on the Infineon ST10C167 microcontroller.  The software is developed in C together with the Nucleus real-time OSWe ported Microwindows, an open-source windowing system for microcomputers, to the embedded platform driving a color LCD display, developed a small-footprint strict subset of the Windows API portable between Windows, FreeBSD with the X Windowing System, and the embedded platform. 

Goodrich Aerospace, Lexhington, MA


HD worked on the Goodrich RAPTOR system, an airborne reconnaissance high speed, high resolution, dual-band digital imaging sensor running on Power PC VME boards using VxWorks.

We Performed the preliminary research into a hardware implementation of the image chain JPEG function based on a VHDL implementation of the algorithm on an FPGA, implemented the RAPTOR Mission Plan Parser in YACC and C, running on Solaris, FreeBSD, Windows with Cygwin, and VxWorks.

Keseli Associates, Mont Vernon, NH


Kesseli Associates is a thermo-fluids and energy consulting company.  HD designed and developed the software for a Solar Burner Controller.  The software is used for the real time control of a natural gas burner that is part of a hybrid solar-natural gas electrical generator. The system controls the fuel input and air-to-fuel ratio of the burner to keep a vessel of sodium-potassium at a precise temperature under varying load, while continually displaying the status on a monitor.

The hardware is based on a Intel 80386-SX ISA bus PC running a modified version of the publicly available BSD UNIX derived operating system, FreeBSD. The modifications include a device driver for a Data Translation data acquisition board and the OS extensions that permit the real time control of two control servos and a stepping motor throttle while the non real time operator interface operates in the standard BSD environment.  The identical software was also run in an MS-DOS environment for the customer’s convenience.

Microwave Medical Systems,  Acton, MA


MMS is a developer of medical instruments that use microwave energy in medical applications.

HD developed the software for the MMS Fluid Warmer which is used to quickly bring fluids (blood, saline, etc.) to body temperature and then to accurately maintain the desired temperature.  The system is a high-reliability Intel 80196 microprocessor system implementing three 60 Hertz digital feedback control loops that meets FDA requirements for use in human patients.  The software continuously tests and monitors both the equipment and the process to guarantee safe operation, and will shut the system down if it detects a failure.  The software is written in ANSI-C, developed and tested in simulation on a UNIX workstation and then cross compiled for the microprocessor target.

The Fluid Warmer includes host link software that collects key system data that can be transmitted to a host computer for calibration, manufacturing and engineering tests.  All Fluid Warmer capabilities can be exercised from a remote GUI.  HD developed both a calibration station and a manufacturing test station, written in ANSI-C and Tk/TCL on a FreeBSD UNIX workstation, used by MMS for their production.

HD has written the software for the precision control of microwave energy in a safety critical application.  The software is a high-reliability Intel 80196 microprocessor system that implements a digital feedback control loop.  The software is written to share common functions with the MMS Fluid Warmer.

Software Partners/32, Topsfield, MA

Software Partners/32 is a leader in network data management systems for UNIX and VMS.  Their software is used to schedule file system backups for one or more workstations in a domain and to catalogue and track the physical media that contains the data sets.  HD Associates designed and developed the Archiving module for the latest version of SP/32's StorageCenter product.  The Archiving module allows UNIX system administrators to delete unused or shelve little-used files from a file system (shelving is the process of copying a file to a backup medium and replacing the file with a smaller "marker" file).  Users can "make-space" on a file system (remove eligible files until a disk-space target has been reached) or "groom" a file system (remove any eligible file). Eligible files can be specified directly or can be selected using a query language based on an extension of the UNIX "find" semantics.

The Archiving module is written in ANSI-C using Standard C library and POSIX functions so that it could more easily be ported to the six UNIX platforms supported by SP/32 (DEC OSF/1, IBM AIX, HP HP/UX, SUN SUNOS, SUN Solaris and DEC Ultrix).  HD wrote a comprehensive test suite written in UNIX shell (sh) language to validate the Archiving software.

Waters, Milford, MA


Waters is a major developer of high performance liquid chromatography (LC) instruments for pharmaceutical, analytical, and research environments. HD Associates engineers worked with Waters to complete the functional requirements, design, and implement the application control software, real-time kernel extensions, and test software and to provide technical direction on Waters' latest LC instrument (the Separation Module).  The software was written in C++ for the Motorola MC68332 using the VRTX real-time executive.

Instrumentation Laboratory, Lexington, MA

Instrumentation Laboratory is an international developer of medical instruments for laboratories and hospitals.  Their products include clinical chemistry analyzers, blood gas analyzers and coagulation analyzers.  HD designed and implemented a medical instrument communication package conforming to the American Society of Testing and Materials (ASTM) protocol.  The protocol allows laboratory instruments to communicate with host computers and laboratory instrument managers to receive test requests and to send test results.  The package is written in ANSI-C and is designed to be platform-independent; it has been ported to Intel iRMX and MS-DOS platforms.  HD also developed a host emulator to test and validate the protocol.

HD designed and implemented the real-time process control software for an automatic blood coagulation analysis laboratory.  The application runs on Venix (a real-time UNIX) on PC-compatible platforms.  The process control software is a set of Venix processes written in ANSI-C that are responsible for the scheduling, loading, and data acquisition of patient, calibration, and quality control samples, instrument resource identification and inventory control, and analyzer management.  The scheduling rules are designed to optimize sample throughput while respecting the timing constraints imposed by the chemical reactions.

HD designed and implemented the low-level and application oriented libraries used by the process control package for communicating with and controlling the Analytical Module (the electro-mechanical analysis engine). The application library provides the application with a logical model of the instrument (including instrument stub behavior for off-line debugging) while the low-level library is responsible for interaction with the instrument.  This package is written in ANSI-C

HD designed a simulation package used to emulate the instrument for automated system test.  The design allows developers and testers to write test scripts that simulate normal and anomalous instrument behaviors.  The scripting language is implemented in TCL (Tool Command Language). 

Alliant Computer Systems, Littleton, MA


Alliant Computer Systems was a manufacturer of high-performance, multi-processor, real-time UNIX mini supercomputers.  Alliant went out of business in May 1992, but at the time HD was a key part of their successful Custom Products Group.  Custom Products designed and implemented custom software and hardware applications for customers of existing or newly purchased Alliant computers.

HD designed and developed a real time data-to-disk array system for the Alliant FX/2800 mini-supercomputer.

The system can continuously write data to a 64 GB Maximum Strategy HIPPI disk array at 32 MB/second while concurrently reading selected regions from the disk and writing them to an AMPEX DCRSI tape drive at 10 MB/second.

HD also developed drivers and support software for High Definition TV interfaces and for hardware in the loop missile simulation and control systems.

Optronics, Chelmsford, MA

Optronics is a developer of high-speed, high-resolution image scanners and recorders used by the scientific and graphics arts industries. HD designed and developed the software and consulted on the system architecture for the Optronics ColorGetter, a high-speed, high-resolution color separation scanner. The scanner uses an embedded IBM-PC compatible computer as the controller with a custom hardware interface to the electro-mechanical components of the scanner.  The scanner controller communicates with a user's computer via IEEE 488 (GPIB) or SCSI interfaces.  HD wrote the embedded control software, the embedded test software, scanner and host interface protocols and host test software.  All software is written in ANSI-C. The system was originally developed on a UNIX workstation with software to emulate the scanner during the time that the scanner was being designed and then re-compiled for the target environment.

General Scanning/Teradyne Laser Systems, Somerville, MA


Teradyne Laser Systems is a developer of laser marking systems for semi-conductor and other commercial industries. In the marker, a high powered laser is positioned by X- and Y-axis mirrors deflected by galvanometers. The application and real-time control software runs under DOS on IBM-PC compatible computers.

HD designed and implemented the TruView job editor, which is used by customers to layout and configure laser-marking jobs.  TruView is a graphics application that allows users of the laser marker to position graphics, text and barcodes in the marking field and assign laser marking parameters to the marking objects.  TruView is written in ANSI-C using the Vermont View menuing library.  HD took over the development of and significantly enhanced the Markit library, which is used to load and render marking objects from jobs created by TruView or custom applications and prepare them for marking by the MCL marker driver. Markit is written in Borland Object Pascal.  HD took over the development of and significantly enhanced the MCL marker driver.  MCL is responsible for the real-time control of the laser power, position and velocity when marking.  MCL is written in Intel 80386 assembler.

HD has also written custom applications for TLSI for their customers.

Paragon Imaging, Woburn, MA


Paragon Imaging is a developer of image processing software for military and commercial applications.  HD Associates was Paragon's initial technical resource when Paragon was founded in 1988 and continued to provide consulting services as Paragon grew.  HD wrote a translator to automatically port a "dusty deck" FORTRAN image-processing program to modern engineering workstations; this was Paragon's first commercial product.  HD developed UNIX kernel drivers and related test software for SCSI image scanners, and reviewed products that Paragon was considering for re-sale.

Brooks Automation, Chelmsford, MA


Brooks Automation is a developer of semi-conductor material handling and test equipment.  HD developed an embedded-PC application for the control of a large-format (450x450mm) semiconductor substrate handling system (the Automatic Plate Handler). The handlers are used on semi-conductor fabrication equipment (manufactured by MRS Technology) used to make flat-panel video displays.  The software is written in ANSI-C and in P3, a concurrent state-machine programming language designed by HD.

HD also designed and developed embedded-PC control applications for vacuum end station controllers (material handlers that operate in vacuum environments) and track station controllers (belt driven material handlers for use in semi-conductor furnaces) based on the P3 architecture.

MRS Technologies, Chelmsford, MA


MRS is a developer of semi-conductor fabrication equipment for the manufacture of large format flat-panel displays.  HD designed and implemented a SEMI Equipment Communication Standard (SECS) communications protocol package that is used in the MRS Panel Printer and in the Brooks Automation Automatic Plate Handler so that the Panel Printer can control the Plate Handler.  The SECS package implements SECS-I (point-to-point communication) and SECS-II (message content) protocol layers.  The driver is written in ANSI-C and has been ported to embedded IBM-PC/DOS and embedded Motorola 68k/VxWorks environments.


Gregory Hirshan

Prior to forming HD Associates Greg worked as an independent consultant. While consulting at GCA he designed the "three-tiered" architecture (user/data management, machine control and module control) and inter-processor message communication protocol for the GCA advanced lithographic step-and-repeat camera.  The system was a multi-processor, Motorola 68000 configuration on a VME bus.  The real-time control software was written in C and used the VRTX real-time kernel.  Greg also contributed to the cross-development tools and environment used on the project.

Greg consulted for M/A-COM's Custom Projects group where he designed and implemented the software for a field-portable plastic pipe locator using ground penetrating radar.  The software was written in C and ran on a portable IBM-PC compatible single board computer with passive backplane.  The software Greg wrote included code to configure the radar source, collect reflected data, store the data for subsequent off-loading and a graphical user interface for instrument control and data display.

Prior to consulting Greg worked for Optronics where he managed the software development team, developed control and application software for image scanners and recorders and managed the development of a high-speed large format (40 inch by 40 inch) color separation scanner and laser film recorder.

Greg's professional interests include real-time control systems, end-user embedded and UNIX applications, graphics and image processing.

Greg received a Bachelor of Engineering in Electrical Engineering from New York University in 1969 and a Master of Science in Engineering Management (Computer Systems) from Northeastern University in 1973.

Greg has made significant contributions to the following HD clients:  Brooks Automation, General Scanning/Teradyne Laser Systems, Instrumentation Laboratory, MRS Technology, Optronics, Software Partners/32, and Waters.

Peter Dufault- 

Prior to forming HD Associates Peter worked as an independent consultant. Peter consulted for GCA, a manufacturer of semi-conductor fabrication equipment, on the design and implementation of the controls for their advanced lithographic step-and-repeat camera. The system was a multi-processor, Motorola 68000 configuration on a VME bus.  The real-time control software was written in C and used the VRTX real-time kernel.  In addition, Peter was responsible for the development of the digital closed-loop servo software that controlled the high-speed, high-precision wafer positioning stage.  Peter also designed and implemented an SECS communication protocol package for the instrument and a UNIX host, and wrote major parts of the cross-development and instrument-simulation tools.

Peter also was engaged by the Eye Research Institute where he developed a FORTRAN-based ray tracing programs used in the design of optical systems and worked on other scientific modeling and simulation projects.

Peter's professional interests include feedback control systems, integrated control systems, embedded real-time systems and real-time UNIX.

Peter received a Bachelor of Science in Physics with Distinction from the Worcester Polytechnic Institute in 1980.

Peter has made significant contributions to the following HD clients: Alliant Computer Systems, Brooks Automation, Kesseli Associates, Microwave Medical Systems, MRS Technology, Optronics, Paragon Imaging, and Waters.

How To Contact Us:

Email: info@hda.com

Phone: 978-433-6936

Fax: 978-433-5267

Parting Words (copyright, contact information, etc.)