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Learning From Example – A First Look At Microcontrollers

time 2023-01-31

Publisher: hqt


From Microcontroller to the Internet of Things: Taking Microcontrollers Outside the Box

Microcontrollers are everywhere. They are in your toaster, in your car, and in your refrigerator. The most common microcontroller is the 8-bit PIC family available from Microchip such as STMicroelectronics L6388ED013TR.

Microcontrollers have been around for decades and have been used in many different applications. From simple embedded systems to complex industrial automation and control, microcontrollers can be found anywhere there is a need for a small computer with basic computing capabilities.

They are also being used more and more in consumer electronics, such as smartphones and tablets. With their low cost, low power consumption, small size, and ease of use they are perfect for these types of applications.

One of the biggest changes in recent years has been the growth in popularity of so-called IoT devices – devices that connect to each other over the internet or other networks (such as Bluetooth). These devices collect data about their surroundings that can then be analyzed by computers back at the base for useful information such as location tracking or environmental monitoring.

The main challenge with these types of applications is that most IoT devices only have limited resources available for performing calculations (memory is small) and communicating with other devices (battery power may be limited). This means that they need to be extremely efficient in what they do.

The challenge of designing a microcontroller project for an IoT device is that it needs to perform a number of different tasks at once. It needs to:

  • – Communicate with other devices over Bluetooth or Wi-Fi.
  • – Take input from sensors and buttons on the device, process them and send them out through one or more output ports.
  • – Store data locally on the device so it can be accessed whenever necessary. This can include things like sensor readings and user preferences.
  • – Communicate with cloud services so that the data can be shared with other users or organizations who need access to it.

Easy Things You Can Do With A Microcontroller

The easiest thing you can do with a microcontroller is to blink an LED. A microcontroller is a device that has a CPU (Central Processing Unit), RAM (Random Access Memory), and ROM (Read Only Memory) on board. It also has pins that you can connect to external devices such as sensors or other electronic components.

When you connect the power supply to your microcontroller, it boots up and runs some code that is stored in ROM. In this case, it will start blinking an LED which will indicate that the device has successfully booted up.

Now let’s say we want to make a temperature sensor that turns on an LED when the temperature reaches 25 degrees Celsius. We will use an analog input pin for measuring the temperature by connecting it to a thermistor which changes its resistance depending on the temperature.

The Arduino IDE supports analog input pins so we don’t need any additional hardware for reading analog values from our thermistor; however, if we were using another platform like an embed or Raspberry Pi then we would need an ADC (Analog Digital Converter) chip to convert analog voltage levels into digital values.

Here are some easy things you can do with a microcontroller:

  • Measure voltages and currents (with analog-to-digital converters).
  • Read digital inputs from switches, sensors, or buttons.
  • Store data in memory locations called registers (volatile RAM) or flash memory (nonvolatile storage).

How Microcontrollers Work?

Microcontrollers are devices that are used to control machinery, process, and other electronic devices. They are also known as MCUs, microprocessors, or uP. A microcontroller is a small computer on a single integrated circuit (IC) chip with an embedded CPU and memory.

Microcontrollers can be programmed in the same way as a desktop computer or laptop using software such as a personal computer (PC) or laptop. The programming language for microcontrollers is called assembly language.

Microcontrollers can also be programmed using higher-level languages such as C++ and Java which are easier to use than assembly language. Microcontrollers use many different types of memory including RAM, ROM, EEPROM, and flash memory.


A microcontroller consists of an array of logic gates, flip-flops, and registers that perform arithmetic operations on binary numbers as well as various storage elements such as latches and counters. Some have analog-to-digital converters (ADCs) or digital-to-analog converters (DACs), timers/counters, serial interfaces, I²C bus interfaces, etc.

Microcontrollers can be used in many different applications such as cars and airplanes where they control many different things including engine functions like acceleration. Microcontrollers are also used in many household appliances such as microwaves, ovens, dishwashers, washing machines, and even video games.

How to Use Microcontrollers?

Microcontrollers are the most popular type of processor. They are used in almost all electronic devices.

The first thing to do when using a microcontroller is to select the right one. There are many different types of microcontrollers and each one has its own specific applications. The main difference between them is their size, speed, and power consumption. The smaller the microcontroller is, the faster it works, and vice versa. In addition, some processors have more memory than others and consume less power than others.

Once you choose the right processor for your project, you should program it with an appropriate programming language such as C++ or Java. Programming languages are just like regular languages except that they can be used to control electronics such as lights or motors instead of communicating with people.

After writing your code into a text file, you can upload it onto your computer using special software called an IDE (Integrated Development Environment). The IDE will translate your code into machine code which is then uploaded onto your microcontroller through a cable known as a programmer cable or programmer probe which connects directly to your computer’s USB port

Tip For Debugging A Microcontroller

Debugging a microcontroller is one of the most difficult tasks in embedded systems. The reason for this is that debugging a microcontroller usually involves connecting to the debug pins on the device, which is not possible unless you have access to a hardware programmer.

If you are able to get access to a hardware programmer, then you can use it to connect with your target board and use some sort of terminal program. However, if you do not have access to an expensive hardware debugger like JTAG, then your only option is to use software-based debugging tools.

The problem with software-based debugging tools is that they are not able to provide as much information as their hardware counterparts; they also do not allow you to modify your code while running it on the target device (unless these tools come with an emulator).

How to Pick Microcontroller for Your Next Project?

One of the most important things to consider when picking a microcontroller for your project is the number of pins that are available. This is especially true if you are building a larger project. If you have too few pins, it will be difficult to get everything connected properly. There are two main types of microcontrollers available in the market:

8-bit Microcontroller: These are very basic in nature, with limited memory space. They can only perform simple tasks like blinking LEDs etc. These are used in low-cost applications where speed is not an issue and power consumption should be kept low as well as the size of the device should be small enough to fit into small spaces like in watches etc., Here is an example 8-bit microprocessor datasheet:

16-bit Microcontroller: These are more advanced than 8-bit controllers as they have more memory space and thus can perform more complicated tasks such as controlling LCDs or touch screens etc

The next thing to consider is how much memory is available on the microcontroller. If you need to store large amounts of data or run complicated programs, then you will want to make sure that the microcontroller has enough memory available for what you need it for.

Another thing to consider when picking a microcontroller for your project is whether or not it supports interrupts. Interrupts allow other parts of the program to stop running temporarily so that another part can execute code without having to wait for it to finish before continuing with other tasks.


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