Microcontrollers and Practical Projects

A microcontroller is a sequential device that can be considered as a small and low-cost microcomputer, which is designed to perform the specific tasks of embedded systems like displaying microwave’s information, receiving remote signals, etc. The general microcontroller consists of the processor, the memory (RAM, ROM, EEPROM), Serial ports, peripherals (timers, counters), etc.

    Features of a microcontroller:
  • Has onchip peripherals like timers, interrupts, ADCs, Comparator, PWM ports,etc.
  • Architecture varies greatly with respect to purpose from general to specific, and with respect to inside architecture, ROM, RAM or I/O functions.Example like Havard, Von Neumann, RISC,CISC, etc.
  • Has onchip communication protocols like USART, SPI, I2C, CAN, USB,etc.
  • Has onchip flash, SRAM, EEPROM.
  • Can perform various complex calculations, execution speed and accuracy depending on the architecture it uses.
  • Usually embedded in other equipment and are used to control features or actions of the equipment.It's like a standalone brain of a system.

Microcontroller Architectures:

Common microcontroller architectures are as follows:
  1. 8051
  2. AVR
  3. PIC
  4. ARM


8051 microcontroller is designed by Intel in 1981. It is an 8-bit microcontroller. It is built with 40 pins DIP (dual inline package), 4kb of ROM storage and 128 bytes of RAM storage, 2 16-bit timers. It consists of are four parallel 8-bit ports, which are programmable as well as addressable as per the requirement. An on-chip crystal oscillator is integrated in the microcontroller having crystal frequency of 12 MHz. Atmel manufactures AT89S51/52(SPI) and AT89C51/52.
Note:Programs for 8051 can be written in both assembly as well as in embedded C using the KEIL uVision software.

AVR / Arduino Microcontroller related projects and tips

AVR is a family of microcontrollers developed since 1996 by Atmel, acquired by Microchip Technology in 2016. These are modified Harvard architecture 8-bit RISC single-chip microcontrollers. AVR was one of the first microcontroller families to use on-chip flash memory for program storage, as opposed to one-time programmable ROM, EPROM, or EEPROM used by other microcontrollers at the time. AVR microcontrollers find many applications as embedded systems. They are especially common in hobbyist and educational embedded applications, popularized by their inclusion in many of the Arduino line of open hardware development boards.
The Arduino is an AVR processor running special code that lets you use the Arduino environment. AVR's can be used by themselves with some additional supporting components. Arduino is a combination of both AVR(chip) and breadboard. AVR is a single chip, and would require a breadboard.

Below you can study various projects and videos using Arduino AVR mcu ATmega328 using Arduino environment. Choose from dropdown list and click button.

Now while working with arduino you'll come across uploading problems. Below video describes how to resolve them.See them here to save your time :)

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ATmega328 on board
2 / 3
ATmega32 with USBASP
3 / 3
ATTiny 13/85

Difference between 8051 and AVR MCUs

8051 AVR
No on chip ADC On chip ADC
Port0 needs external pullups All ports have internal configurable pullups
No I2C, SPI Has I2C, SPI
No lock bits, internal watchdog,fuse bit setting,JTAG All these are present
No interal EEPROM Has internal EEPROM
Has no dedicated PWM pins Has dedicated PWM pins

It's better to switch to AVR studio for better understanding of microcontroller architectures and hardware understanding.There you can write actual embedded C code which will enable you to get more flexibility in using microcontroller's internal hardwares and peripherals. Furthurmore, assembly language, which is the base language of any microcontroller/processor should be learnt too. AVR studio also enables us to write assembly language.

Do you know?

After acquisition of ATMEL by Microchip, Microchip developed MPLAB along with XC8 compiler which enables us to write C codes for both AVR as well as PIC MCUs.

PIC Microcontrollers PIC is a family of microcontrollers made by Microchip Technology, derived from the PIC1650 originally developed by General Instrument's Microelectronics Division. The name PIC initially referred to Peripheral Interface Controller, and is currently expanded as Programmable Intelligent Computer. The hardware capabilities of PIC devices range from 6-pin SMD, 8-pin DIP chips up to 144-pin SMD chips, with discrete I/O pins, ADC and DAC modules, and communications ports such as UART, I2C, CAN, and even USB. Low-power and high-speed variations exist for many types. The manufacturer supplies computer software for development known as MPLAB X, assemblers and C/C++ compilers, and programmer/debugger hardware under the MPLAB and PICKit series. PIC devices are popular with both industrial developers and hobbyists due to their low cost, wide availability, large user base, extensive collection of application notes, availability of low cost or free development tools, serial programming, and re-programmable flash-memory capability.
Various PIC Microcontrollers (16F676, 16F877A & 12F675 ) with PICKIT3

A full playlist of PIC,AVR and 8051 microcontroller theories and practicals.

MSP (ARM) and ESP32,ESP12 related Projects

NodeMCU ESP12 is a low-cost open source IoT platform. It initially included firmware which runs on the ESP8266 Wi-Fi SoC from Espressif Systems, and hardware which was based on the ESP-12 module.
The NodeMCU ESP-32S is one of the development board created by NodeMcu to evaluate the ESP-WROOM-32 module. It is based on the ESP32 microcontroller that boasts Wifi, Bluetooth, Ethernet and Low Power support all in a single chip.

MSP microcontrollers
are popular microcontroller series from Texas Instruments.MSP430™ microcontroller (MCU) portfolio offers a wide variety of 16-bit MCUs with ultra-low-power and integrated analog and digital peripherals for sensing and measurement applications. MSP430 MCUs are supported by development kits, reference designs, software, training, documentation and online support.

MSP430 tutorial video series playlist can be found here.

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