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Designing A Paintball Gun Chronograph In A Computer Systems Course Incorporating Intel Microprocessors And Picmicro Microcontrollers

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2004 Annual Conference


Salt Lake City, Utah

Publication Date

June 20, 2004

Start Date

June 20, 2004

End Date

June 23, 2004



Conference Session

Electrical & Computer Engineering Poster Session

Page Count


Page Numbers

9.391.1 - 9.391.11



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Paper Authors

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William Dillard

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

Session: 1532

Designing a Paintball Gun Chronograph in a Computer Systems Course Incorporating Intel Microprocessors and PICmicro Microcontrollers

William Dillard 200 Broun Hall ECE Department Auburn University, AL 36849 Voice: (334) 844-1840 Fax: (334) 844-1809


Most ECE departments teach computer systems using microcontrollers with microtrainers systems. This approach has two deficiencies. First, students must be in the laboratory to debug real-time code and physically connect peripherals, leaving little opportunity for extracurricular experimentation. Second, treating only the microcontroller distances the student from the ubiquitous PC and its standards.

A new approach to teaching computer systems and assembly language for sophomore electrical engineering students is being investigated at Auburn University. Due to curriculum restrictions, the sophomore level course has no formal hardware laboratory. From the outset, four issues were addressed: treating PC-related issues via the 8086 microprocessor (our traditional approach), introducing embedded systems with simple microcontrollers, including a project to add a meaningful hardware experience and providing a means for students to inexpensively program their MCU’s at home.

We selected the PIC12F675 microcontroller and the PICkitTM 1 FLASH Start Kit development board from Microchip Technology, Inc. for our microcontroller studies. Teams of students construct, code, debug and test complete design solutions at home and verify their implementation by real-time execution in class. The paintball chronograph project requires hardware and coding for both the PC and PIC12F675, focusing most of the pertinent course material into a single effort.

Course assessments show that the chronograph project was very successful and highly motivational. Hardware construction was relatively simple and easy to debug. Conducting field tests with “live ammo” in front of the entire class provided both excitement and extra motivation for the work. Also, the concepts of serial protocols and the PC serial port operation, particularly the importance of transfer timing and MCU clocking, were well appreciated.

Proceedings of the 2004 American Society for Engineering Education Annual conference & Exposition Copyright 2004, American Society for engineering Education

Dillard, W. (2004, June), Designing A Paintball Gun Chronograph In A Computer Systems Course Incorporating Intel Microprocessors And Picmicro Microcontrollers Paper presented at 2004 Annual Conference, Salt Lake City, Utah. 10.18260/1-2--13448

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