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Martin P. Bates is the editor of PIC Microcontrollers eBook
The Microchip™ PIC 16F84 microcontroller is an unremarkable looking 18-pin chip – so why write a whole book on it? The answer is that it contains within its ordinary looking plastic case most of the technology that students of microelectronics need to know about in order to understand microprocessor and computer systems.
It also represents a significant new development in microelectronics and, importantly, it offers an easier introduction to the world of digital processing and control than conventional microprocessors.
The microcontroller is a self-contained, programmable device, and the student, hobbyist or engineer can put it to use without knowing in too much detail how it works.
On the other hand, we can learn a great deal about microelectronics by looking inside. Studying the PIC chip will give the user a valuable insight into the technology behind the explosion in microprocessor-controlled applications which has occurred in recent years, which has been based on cheap, mass-produced digital circuits.
Mobile phones, video cameras, digital television, satellite broadcasting and microwave cookers – there are not many current electronic products which do not contain some kind of microprocessor.
Industrial control systems have seen similar developments, where complex computer control systems have steadily increased productivity, quality and reliability (PIC Microcontrollers 2nd Edition by Martin P. Bates).
The key, of course, is the increase in power of microprocessors and related technology, while the cost of these clever little chips continues to fall. The microcontroller is essentially a computer on one chip, which can carry out a complex programmed sequence of actions, with the minimum of additional components.
As an example, in this PIC Microcontrollers 2nd Edition by Martin P. Batesbook a motor control circuit will be described which allows the motion of a small dc motor to be programmed and controlled by the PIC chip.
The only additional major components required are power transistors to provide the current drive to the motor. In the past, equivalent control and interface circuits for such an application would have required many more components, and been much more complicated and expensive to design and produce (PIC Microcontrollers 2nd Edition by Martin P. Bates).
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The small microcontroller also makes it easier for a device such as a motor to be individually controlled as part of a larger system. When I first came across the PIC chip a few years ago, it was immediately obvious that this would be an ideal device for teaching and learning microprocessor software techniques, especially for students with minimal prior knowledge and skills (PIC Microcontrollers 2nd Edition by Martin P. Bates).
It is relatively cheap, and, even better, it has non-volatile program memory that is electrically reprogrammable (Flash ROM). In addition, the manufacturers, Arizona Microchip, had the foresight to make development system software required to develop programs for the chip widely available (PIC Microcontrollers 2nd Edition by Martin P. Bates).
Packages are available for DOS and Windows, and the support hardware and software are being added to all the time, by the manufacturers, independent suppliers and enthusiasts.
On the other hand, a complete set of more powerful development tools is also available for the professional user. Both DOS and Windows versions of the PIC development system have been used to prepare the sample applications in this PIC Microcontrollers 2nd Edition by Martin P. Bates book,
and the programs downloaded using the PICSTART-16B programming unit. However, there are many designs for inexpensive programmers available in magazines and on the Internet, usually with their own software.
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