Chapter 35Understanding Microcontrollers

Microcontrollers have become the favorite method for endowing a robot with smarts. And there’s good reason: microcontrollers are inexpensive, have simple power requirements—usually just 5 volts—and most can be programmed using software on your PC. Once programmed, the microcontroller is disconnected from the PC and operates on its own.

A microcontroller is a computer-on-a-chip. It contains everything (or almost everything, depending on the exact model) that’s needed to be a fully functional computer. It contains a central processing unit that does the thinking, memory for storing programs and data, and multiple connections that allow it to interface with external devices. In all, the perfect brain for ...

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