Introduction To Microcontroller
Microcontroller in simple term means a small computer on a single chip. Wiki Its like an artificial mind for any intelligent devices which is responsible for taking decisions. [eg your robot needs to take decision, a microcontroller would do that for us.]
Microcontrollers are made through VLSI Fabrication. VLSI fabrication ? In simple words , its a process of putting together thousands of transistors into One single small chip. Hence microcontroller are used in embedded systems . Data processing can be done through these microcontrollers .Hence Embedded system can be designed through this kind of data processing capability. Typical examples would be hand-held video games and mobile phones. A small computer on a single IC containing a small processor , little memory and programmable input & output peripherals is a microcontroller.
Where microcontrollers are used ?
If you have ever wondered what microcontrollers are doing these days then, all kinds of devices has microcontrollers in it. Microcontroller chip is must for any devices which measures,stores,controls,calculate or displays information. Automobile industry is the largest user of microcontrollers. Microcontrollers are used in consumer products too. LCD/LED display units, Keyboards,Modems, Digital camcorders,Optical players,Printers and other peripherals are devices where you can find microcontrollers inside.
How microcontroller is different from microprocessor ?
Often the term microcontrollers and microprocessor are used interchangeably. But in many ways microcontrollers differs from microprocessor. The most important would be its functionality. Other components such as memory or components is needed in order for a microprocessor to be used. The very heart of the computer is the microprocessor. But microcontroller is designed to be all of that in one. All necessary peripherals are already built into it so no other external components are needed for its application. Since all the components are already included in the microcontroller hence it makes it perfect for various applications such as robots , as we are going to use here .
Why microcontroller ?
Microcontroller are usually cheaper as compared to microprocessor. You cannot include a Computer everywhere when small-small decision making jobs are needed to be done in small electronic components like your mp3 player. Hence microcontroller are used , which is good enough to handle small decision making part of some basic devices.
“ A small scale Computer good enough to make basic and complex jobs.”
Microcontroller are relatively cheaper than a microprocessor what you can find in a typical computer.
What do we need to know about microcontroller ?
Microcontroller can be programmed , and has its own programming language and compilers. Hence in our robotic applications it is going to serve as a mind which will be responsible for taking all decisions. All the informations from various sensors will be served to microcontroller and those informations will be processed according to the logic we programmed into the microcontroller. Depending upon the capability there are numerous kinds of microcontroller.
For us ?
The microcontroller I used in my robot is PIC18F4550. Due to USB integration and control the robot is very portable and do not require any separate control device to operate, it is a plug and play device to any portable computer with a USB port .A complete tutorial of programming, loading, body design, motion will be provided in my portal as a material for beginners and in as easy language as possible.
We will get into depth of programming a microcontroller as we go further .