Tag: programming

Robotics – Intro To Microcontrollers

by on Jun.29, 2011, under Electronics, Microcontrollers, Picaxe



What is a microcontroller? Well, a microcontroller is a low-cost integrated circuit that contains memory, processing units, and input/output circuitry in a single package. Microcontrollers are purchased ‘blank’ and then programmed with a specific control program. Microcontrollers are usually programmed using the assembler, ‘C’, or Basic programming languages. Once programmed the microcontroller is build into a product to make the product more intelligent and easier to use. A quick look around your environment will provide you with a plethora of examples from computers, T.V.’s, microwave ovens, stoves, and even your car to name just a few. Practically every electronic device these days will contain at least one microcontroller, and sometimes more.

Similar to the microprocessor that powers your personal computer, microcontrollers are a specialized type of integrated circuit or “chip.” They are sometimes thought of as single chip computers because they incorporate circuitry such as timers and memory which are separate components in other microprocessor applications. For robotics they act as the brain of our projects and that of their embedded integrated sub-systems.

One of the most common types of microcontroller are the PIC family of microcontrollers by Microchip. PICAXE microcontrollers are, low-cost, re-programmable microcontrollers by Revolution Education Ltd. The PICAXE microcontroller is a PIC variant, a conventional PIC pre-programmed with a BASIC operating system. A PICAXE chip offers most of the control capabilities of a native PIC processor, but has almost no learning curve, requires no special hardware to program the chip, and is almost as inexpensive as unprogrammed PIC microcontrollers.

The vast majority of microcontoller projects you will find on my site that I will blog about are PICAXE microcontrollers from Revolution Education Ltd. Let us explore the PICAXE micocontoller further in my next post…Robotics – Intro To PICAXE

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Samuel A. Clarke

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