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A Beginner’s Guide to a PIC Microcontroller

March 2, 2017 No Comments

Featured article by Calvin Paige, Independent Technology Author

Many people often take for granted the level of time it takes to create everyday appliances, such as cars, household appliances and telephones. However, as any experienced engineer will know, these innovative devices could not possibly work without the use of embedded smart electronics.

If you are a new engineer or developer wanting to learn more about the role of microcontrollers in electronic devices, we are offering an informative beginner’s guide to PIC microcontrollers to help you get started.

The Role of a Microcontroller

Smart electronics are a microcomputer that has been designed to control a certain aspect of an application, which is either basedupon a microcontroller of a digital signal processing device.

The unique microcontrollers are integrated onto a single chip, which offers a memory and central processing unit. The microcontrollers can also feature a variety of peripherals, such as A/D or D/A converters, communication modules and timers, which is why are the most commonly used processing devices within many electronic control systems and are also widely used in industrial and mechanical engineering.

The Importance of Application Prototypes

It takes a skilled engineer to master the art of computer programming and digital construction, which both form part of a microcontroller based application design. The creation of hardware or software prototype is essential to the design process, as it is highly recommended to both tests and verify a microcontroller within a designed system, especially as components are becoming increasingly complex.

Microcontroller Configuration

Most microcontrollers will come with configuration bits that allow an engineer to configure various options within their prototype, which include:

·        Oscillator Type

·        Low voltage programming On/Off

·        Fail safe clock monitor

·        Power-uptimer On/Off

·        Watchdog Timer On/Off

·        Internal/external switchover On/Off

If you select a PIC microcontroller, you can select configuration bits for data code protection and program code protection, which therefore prevent an external programming hardware from reading data or program code spaces, adding greater security from people attempting to steal the code.

8-bit, 16-bit and 32-bit MCUs

PIC Microcontrollers can commonly be found in new applications, such as smartphones, video gaming peripherals, advanced medical devices and audio accessories.

An 8-bit PIC microcontroller has a migration path from 6 to 100 pins and requires little or no code. What’s more, you can increase the control within an application if you require to additional space.

The 16-bit PIC microcontroller is an ideal option when attempting to scale up from an 8-bit MCU. However, you can choose the affordable PIC24F, which offers more memory, performance and peripherals than its smaller counterpart, or you can select the PIC24H/E, which has been designed to provide a greater solution for demanding applications.

However, if memory, peripherals, performance and software capabilities are a priority for an application, consider the 32-bit PIC microcontroller, as it can adapt to an engineer’s many design challenges during the creation of a prototype.

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