Educational Engineering

Educational Engineering

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Tuesday, July 31, 2018

What is the difference between Arduino and microcontrollers that existed before Arduino?

12:56 PM 0
What is the difference between Arduino and microcontrollers that existed before Arduino?

What is the difference between Arduino and microcontrollers that existed before Arduino?

“Arduino” is not a microcontroller - it’s a family of ‘development boards’ based on several members of the Atmel AVR microcontroller family (and in more recent years, other brands & models of microcontrollers too), which existed long before anyone knew how to pronounce Arduino.
Arduino is also a growing list of libraries, for controlling a wide range of chip peripherals, and performing a wide range of functions, that allow the user to focus most of their effort on their primary application/goal, rather than ‘boring’ stuff.
And Arduino is also a rather awful but nonetheless good-enough IDE for writing Arduino ‘sketches’ in, which contains and hides most of the dirty underbelly of the toolchain of compiler and linker and uploader that hitherto Arduino, was and remains a pain to set up.
Arduino is not a language - Arduino sketches are C-language, and under the hood/bonnet Arduino is implemented with C++ and one can actually program one’s sketches in C++ too, should the need arise. All microcontrollers can be programmed in Assembler, for the very rare occasions that’s necessary, but nowadays most can also be programmed in C/C++ and a few in other higher level languages too.
Arduino also has a huge community of mostly neophyte users, similarly to Raspberry Pi. Other brands & families of microcontroller families tend to have much smaller communities of helpful co-support and tend to consist of more experienced practitioners from the traditional engineering disciplines, rather than newcomers.
Arduino was and to some degree remains a project to help bring the world of microcontrollers to a broader audience, originally intended to be artists wishing to make ‘technical art’, by dramatically reducing the ‘barriers to entry’ normally expected of the world of microcontrollers. It succeeded in that goal, wildly, and changed the landscape of electronics engineering as applied to microcontrollers, demystifying that which used to be arcane, expensive, and slow to develop useful applications.

Arduino is not a microcontroller. It is based on an AVR controller, but it is more than that for the following points:
  • It is a full system. It has an MCU, an onboard programmer which means you don’t need an external programmer, and a bootloader software that can talk with your machine.
  • It comes with an IDE. Actually, you can program an Arduino board without its IDE, but that will need you a lot of configurations (chip family, rom size, and ram mapping). So the IDE provides a facility for easy programming. Good for beginners.
  • It has a full ecosystem. You can easily get an Arduino-compatible board from the market. You can download drivers and libraries for a huge amount of devices you could possibly use in your own project.
  • One issue of Arduino, however, it has the poor ability to debug, which is essential for debugging complex programs. The only way you can debug is using the serial terminal and that is very inefficient.
The Arduino was successful in ways that previous microcontrollers were not for a variety of reasons:
  • Arduino was an actual complete development board, including programmer. When you wrote code for the Arduino, you didn’t need a separate gadget to program it. You could hook it to your Windows/Mac/Linux box, and download code directly to it, and then test it. It didn’t require any mechanical/electronic assembly.
  • Arduino was reasonably inexpensive. At introduction, Arduino boards were around $30, which placed them in the range of hobbyists. Now, you can get knock-off clones for about $3–$5 from China.
  • Arduino was programmed in C/C++ (sort of) using the free GCC C compiler. Most other microcontrollers of the day were programmed with proprietary (and often expensive) compilers. The Arduino programming environment was designed to be a single download and is reasonably portable.
  • The Arduino provided a fairly rich set of libraries to soften the cognitive load for the beginner. Libraries make it simple to do serial I/O, access I2C peripherals, an interface to a fairly wide variety of other devices.
  • The Arduino built up a community who shares code and experience with one another. It is this community that is perhaps the biggest asset of the Arduino ecosystem.
Arduino has proved so popular that the libraries and environment have been ported to other microcontroller boards and architectures such as ARM-based boards or boards based upon the ESP8266 chipset. It’s possible to move from the classic boards to these newer, more powerful and less expensive boards with relatively little effort.

Microcontroller development board in that time was not intended to be beginner friendly. It was aimed to be used by electronic students or engineers who want to build real-world industrial grade device. Thus, it tends to be complex yet difficult to tinker (but offer higher flexibility, and performance).
Massimo Banzi was a teacher, and he wanted his students to learn electronics, not by doing a tedious task like soldering or something like that. But instead, he wanted them to focus on constructing algorithms. So he built Arduino.
In short, Arduino was launched with one purpose: to simplify (digital) electronics development cycle. Arduino is equipped with its own environment (IDE, language, forums) so it can be used even by a toddler (remember Sylvia the Arduino little girl?).
Even Atmel built a very complicated development board for their chips.

Saturday, July 21, 2018

What are the new trends in the Microcontroller industry, Arduino and PIC Microcontroller?

9:30 AM 0
What are the new trends in the Microcontroller industry, Arduino and PIC Microcontroller?

Some of the more interesting developments have been in the very low-end 8-bit microcontrollers.
Take the PIC10F322 from Microchip for example. It comes in either a 6-pin SOT-23 or 8-pin DIP or DFN package and has only 512 14-bit words (896 bytes) of flash and 64 bytes of RAM.
But look at the unique set of peripherals (in addition to the usual timers, ADC, PWM, GPIO, and WDT):
Configurable Logic Cell (CLC):
  • 8 selectable input source signals
  • Two inputs per module
  • Software selectable logic functions including:
  • AND/OR/XOR/D Flop/D Latch/SR/JK
  • External or internal inputs/outputs
  • Operation while in Sleep
So in many cases, you can avoid adding additional logic chips to a small system.
Numerically Controlled Oscillator (NCO):
  • 20-bit accumulator
  • 16-bit increment
  • Linear frequency control
  • High-speed clock input
  • Selectable Output modes
  • Fixed Duty Cycle (FDC)
  • Pulse Frequency (PF) mode
Complementary Waveform Generator (CWG):
  • Selectable falling and rising edge dead-band control
  • Polarity control
  • Two auto-shutdown sources
  • Multiple input sources: PWM, CLC, NCO
Pretty fancy for a part that costs under 50¢ in large quantities. I work mostly with 32-bit PIC processors, but I consider this processor quite a gem.
While other trends that have been true for decades. Higher levels of integration, especially with new kinds of IO like RF (ESP-12/32, for example), more memory of various types, faster clocks, lower cost, lower power, smaller packages. I wouldn’t expect those trends to change much over the coming years or tens of years.

Thursday, May 24, 2018

Say hello to the next generation of Arduino boards!

12:44 AM 0
Say hello to the next generation of Arduino boards!
The MKR Vidor 4000 is the first-ever Arduino based on an FPGA chip, equipped with a SAM D21 microcontroller, a u-blox Nina W102 WiFi module, and an ECC508 crypto chip for secure connection to local networks and the Internet. MKR Vidor 4000 is the latest addition to the MKR family, designed for a wide range of IoT applications, with its distinctive form factor and substantial computational power for high performance. The board will be coupled with an innovative development environment, which aims to democratize and radically simplify access to the world of FPGAs.
“The new MKR Vidor 4000 will finally make FPGA accessible to makers and innovators,” said Massimo Banzi, Arduino co-founder. “And we are looking forward to changing the game yet again.”
“Maker Faire Bay Area is always an unparalleled opportunity to interact with the Arduino community and makers,” added Fabio Violante, Arduino CEO. “This year I’m extremely excited about the launch of the most flexible Arduino ever, the MKR Vidor 4000 and the development environment vision around it. With this new product we aim at putting in the hands of professionals, makers and educators the electronic equivalent of a resourceful Swiss Knife to bring their creativity to the next level. The applications are countless.”
Co-developed with Microchipthe Uno WiFi Rev is built around the new ATmega4809, a u-blox Nina W102 WiFi module, and an integrated IMU. The Uno WiFi will make it even easier to deploy products that need connectivity using the classic Arduino form factor, and is ideal for emerging IoT industries such as automotive, agriculture, consumer electronics, smart home, and wearables. Among its other features, the ATmega4809 provides 6KB of RAM, 48KB of Flash, three UARTS, Core Independent Peripherals (CIPs), and an integrated high-speed ADC. Combined with Microchip’s ECC608 crypto chip on the Uno board, the microcontroller also provides hardware-based security for connecting projects to the cloud including AWS and Google.
“As we grow, partner and invest, we will fuel the vast IoT and software markets across the industry,” said Banzi. “Inspiring the Arduino community with easy to deploy solutions that enable our users to have access to larger both flash and RAM memory for more demanding IoT projects.”
“Arduino aims at supporting professional developers, makers and educators during the entire lifecycle of IoT product development, from the initial learning phases to mass deployment,” noted Violante. “Being based on the popular AVR technology, but on steroids, and with an enhanced WiFi connectivity, the Uno WiFi Rev 2 is a big step forward for all users that want to leverage the vast ecosystem of shields and libraries available for the traditional Uno form factor, in connected use cases.”
Those heading to Maker Faire this weekend are invited to attend Massimo Banzi’s semi-annual ‘State of Arduino’ talk, where you can learn more about our latest developments including the MKR Vidor 4000, Uno WiFi Rev2, and our Arduino Day releases.

Both the MKR Vidor 4000 and Uno WiFi Rev2 will be available on the Arduino online store at the end of June.

Monday, March 12, 2018

Download and Install Latest MikroC Compiler for PIC Microcontroller

8:29 AM 0
Download and Install Latest MikroC Compiler for PIC Microcontroller

mikroC PRO for PIC

Download and Install Latest MikroC Compiler for PIC Microcontroller
mikroC PRO for PIC is a full-featured C compiler for PIC devices.
The feature rich environment you can experience today is the result of 15 years of dedicated work and steady progress. The ever-increasing number of hardware and software libraries, intuitive IDE, integrated Visual TFT software, detailed documentation, a full box of additional tools.
How to Download and Install Latest Version (Video)

Download and Install Latest MikroC Compiler for PIC Microcontroller
Download and Install Latest MikroC Compiler 2018 for PIC Microcontroller

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

PIC Microcontroller: Advanced Training Course

11:33 PM 0
PIC Microcontroller: Advanced Training Course

PIC Microcontroller: Advanced Training Course

As You go Through This course, You will notice that each section starts with a deep explanation of the basics and theoretical information regarding main topic, so if you are not intersted in the theory go to the last two or three lectures of each section to understand the code and how to implement it, which I don't recommend!, you need to go through each lecture to be able to fully understand each topic.
Now, you can download the codes and Simulation Projects from the link below to use them to revise, but you should also write the code yourself, draw the circuit yourself and make mistakes to learn.

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