Microcontroller is one component which can be considered as the heart of almost every electronics and mechatronics project. Whenever we need electronic automation we use it. Consequently they are ubiquitous and found in almost every electronic device from ovens to iPods. A microcontroller is essentially a small computer on a chip. Like any computer, it has memory, and can be programmed to do calculations, receive input, and generate output. But unlike a PC, it incorporates memory, a CPU, peripherals and I/O interfaces into a single chip.
Computer architecture is a very complex and vast topic. But the good news is, it is not necessarily needed to work with microcontrollers. Yet knowing some basics related to it can be beneficial. So I will provide you a general picture of how the 8051 microcontroller works. First of all it has Harvard architecture. This implies that the program and data are stored in separate memory spaces which are accessible simultaneously. Most importantly, this allows microcontroller to fetch next instruction while one is being executed. Now we shall look at different parts present in a microcontroller.
Central processor unit(cpu) is the brain of the microcontroller and controls and monitors all the operations performed in the microntroller. Whereas, a user has no control over it. Hence in a nutshell, its task is to read the programs written in the ROM and execute them.
Interrupts are used to interrupt main operations of a microcontroller and forces it to execute any other program with higher significance at that moment. As a result its major use lies in execution of emergency operations.
Program Memory (ROM) is used to permanently save the program being executed. While Data Memory (RAM) is used for temporarily storing data and intermediate results created and used during the operation of the microcontroller.
I/O ports are used to connect to other devices , machines or peripherals.
Timers are used for measurement of intervals to determine the pulse width of pulses.
Data bus is used to carry data. It carries the data to be stored, while address bus carries the location to where it should be stored.
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How to use microcontrollers?
A microcontroller acts as the brain to the system and controls other different components involved but this brain does not have any ideas of its own. Consequently it needs to be loaded with instructions. Therefore, programmes needs to installed in them.
- First step is to write program in a suitable language.
- Next we need to compile the code with a compiler for the microcontroller.
- Finally we upload the compiled version of your program to your microcontroller.
A microcontroller development board is a printed circuit board (PCB) with circuitry and hardware. It is specifically designed to facilitate experimentation with a certain microcontroller board features. The Development boards are combined with a processor, memory, chipset and on-board peripherals like LCD, Keypad, USB, serial port, ADC, RTC, Motor Driver ICs, SD card slot, Ethernet, etc. Two of the most widely boards include Arduino UNO and Raspberry Pi.
Microcontroller Based Projects List
Now lets look at some projects which use microcontrollers:
- Humidity sensor: Suitable humidity level is needed to stabilize our environment and the world ecosystem including to ourselves therefore relative humidity in the air should be monitored.
- Motion based automatic door: Well opening a door in places like hotels, Shopping complexes, and offices can be a tedious task and sometimes requires hiring a person just for the sake of opening door whenever a person arrives. Hence an automatic and precise door opening system based on human movement sensing near the door is desirable.
- Vehicle sensing street lights: The project is aimed to detect vehicle movement on highways to switch ON only a block of street lights ahead of it (vehicle), and to switch OFF the trailing lights to save energy.
- Heart beat monitoring system: Using Arduino a system can be created that will detect the heart beat using the Pulse Sensor and will show the readings in BPM (Beats Per Minute) on the LCD connected to it.
- Industrial sorting system based on color/metal sensing: this system will use metal sensor, so that system perform multi sorting and differentiate between metal/non-metal to. As a result it can identify objects when placed on the conveyor belt based on color/ metal sensing and then sort by relocating them to a specific location.
- Wall climbing robot: Built to climb walls and walk on ceilings so it can clean huge inclined surfaces and glass windows.
- Line following robot: Follows a line of dark color on lighter background using IR sensors.
- Voice controlled: A voice control robot that’s controlled via Bluetooth HC-05 using a smartphone app.
- Gesture controlled robotic arm: The robotic arm of this project is controlled by hand gesture. Accelerometer, gyroscope and magnetometer sensors is mounted on human hand.
- Fire detection robot: The aim of the project is to detect flame and reaching it without colliding with other obstacles. Fire can be sensed by Flame sensors such as UVTron.
- Finger print based locker: Fingerprint based security system is the most secured system as compared to other systems. Reason is that RFID card or Keys of lock can be stolen. Fingerprint sensor is the main part of this system consequently it makes use of biometric sensor to detect fingerprint.
- Liquid/water level indicator with alarm: Water tank overflow is a common problem which leads to the wastage of water. A system can be built that detects the water level and will raise an alarm upon getting the water tank full.
- Laser security system: Laser based Security System is a type of security and alarm system that uses laser light and a light sensor. A security system protects our homes, offices, banks, lockers etc. from intrusion and unauthorized access.
- Car over speeding detection system: Road accidents occurrences have increased recently so there needs to be a system that allows to detect over speeding cars.
- Automatic railway gate control system: The aim of this project is to operate and control the unmanned railway gate in proper manner in order to avoid the accidents in unmanned level crossings.
- Automatic college bell system: This project can be used in Industries, educational institutes like colleges, university, schools.
- Bus ticketing system: Automating the task of fare collection using RFID card technology.
- Home automation system: Automating and interconnecting all the home appliance such as doors, lights and air cons to reduce the energy wastage while adding in the comfort.
- Automated garden system: The most common component element of gardening that becomes automated is watering – drip irrigation is a prime example. However, other elements in today’s modern garden can also be automated, including humidity control, lighting, temperatures, fertilizer applications, and more.
- Boolean algebra calculator: we can use Boolean algebra simplification methods like the Quine-McCluskey algorithm to simplify the Boolean expression and display the output on the display. It works as a portable calculator to simplify the Boolean expression on the fly.
- Smart wheelchair: A wheelchair which can be controlled by voice commands can prove to be a boon for physically challenged people.
- Sun tracking system for solar power: If we can change the direction of solar cells with respect to direction of sun, efficiency of solar plant can be increased significantly.
- Rubik’s cube solver: A robotic arm which can solve a rubik cube.
Some other cool projects:
- LPG leakage detector with buzzer indication
- Android based alcohol detection
- Touchscreen based security lock for bike ignition
- pick and place robot
- Touchscreen based ordering system for restraurants
- RFID based attendance management sysytem
- Automobile Exhaust Gas Pollution Checking With Zigbee Application
- Fire Monitoring System in Petro-Mechanical Industries Using Microcontroller
- Real time Elevator Control System Using Microcontroller
- Maze solver robot
- Zigbee Based Wireless Surveillance and Safety System for Mine Workers
- Wheel Chair Control through Eyeball
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