Microcontrollers: We’ve Got Brains!


For those who really want to play around with big boy toys, there are robotics.  For those that want to not only play with them, but want to fully control them too, there are microcontrollers.  Microcontrollers are the brains that make robotics tick and they are what makes it all happen.

The robotic revolution is upon us.  From use in schools, hobbies, practical purposes and even in the medical realm, robotics are indeed the future.  And what makes the robotics run?  The brains.  The microcontrollers inside the robotic shells are what ultimately make them tick.

Not only are microcontrollers the brains in robotic devices, they are used in many other areas too.  They store memory such as in flash-drives and are found in remote controls too.  Appliances, toys, power tools and even automobile engine control systems have microcontrollers.  They are powerful yet small and run a myriad of machines, appliances and systems that you most likely use on a daily basis.

It is amazing to learn how microcontrollers work.  There are those that only use a four-bit word system and have very low frequencies.  They use little power and will function when prompted.  Others have higher speeds and power and are designed to be in performance role so that they are ready to roll at all times.

You may have heard the term “computer chip”.  A computer chip is a microcontroller that is the brain of a computer, so to speak.  While the first microprocessor was a 4-bit Intel 4004 and was launched in 1971, they have come a long way since then and the near future is expected to hold some even more amazing progress yet to come.

The technology has advanced but the price of microcontrollers continues to fall which is fabulous for those who are wanting to use them for hobby purposes.  There are many hobbies that use them but one of the most popular is robotics.  Microcontrollers is what makes a robot smart.  It controls them and when you control the microcontroller, you are truly in charge of your toy.

Microcontrollers aren’t just used in robot type toys.  They are also used in remote controlled planes, cars, boats and such.  Often those use a servo.  A servo is different than a motor in an RC toy because you don’t control the actual velocity or torque which is how a motor operates.  Instead, you have control of the motor yourself with positional control.  It is certainly an edge that RC hobby enthusiasts are finding more and more interesting.  Sales in microcontrollers for these type vehicles are growing constantly.

As people become more serious about their hobbies, they are leaning to microcontrollers to control the brains of the toys themselves.  In the same way, microcontrollers are being put into more than ever typical household items and in the cars that we drive, the phones that we talk on and just about every other thing that we come into contact with these days.  Microcontrollers…they are the brains behind the control.

Updated: February 3, 2015 — 9:06 am
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