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Designing And Implementing An Embedded Microcontroller System: Tetris Game

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2005 Annual Conference


Portland, Oregon

Publication Date

June 12, 2005

Start Date

June 12, 2005

End Date

June 15, 2005



Conference Session

Embedded Computing

Page Count


Page Numbers

10.421.1 - 10.421.7



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Paper Authors

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Daniel Pack

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Barry Mullins

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

Designing and Implementing an Embedded Microcontroller System: Tetris Game

Tyler W. Gilbert, Barry E. Mullins, and Daniel J. Pack Department of Electrical Engineering US Air Force Academy


In this paper we present the software and hardware design experience of a junior cadet majoring in electrical engineering at the U.S. Air Force Academy as he completed an embedded system project in a second microcontroller course. The paper also includes the corresponding observations made by his instructors. Some of the topics of this semester-long course are programming microcontrollers using C, software and hardware design techniques, interfacing devices to buses including fan-out issues, as well as buffering and timing analysis for interfacing devices. As a course requirement, an embedded system project must be completed by each student using the hardware kernel they had developed throughout the semester. The Tetris game was an ideal final project for this course due to its demanding software and hardware requirements, which required the student to apply and incorporate hardware and software skills and to perform tradeoff analyses using what he had learned throughout the course: (1) memory expansion, (2) input/output interfacing, (3) embedded software development, and (4) stand-alone system development. This paper provides the reader with the step-by-step procedure used at the Academy for the completion of the embedded system project and shares the lessons learned from both student and instructors’ perspectives in the context of completing a successful and challenging Tetris game project.


Second class cadet (junior year) electrical engineering (EE) majors at the United States Air Force Academy are given the opportunity to take a second course in microcontroller design—EE 383, Microcomputer System Design. The goals of the course are “Cadets shall develop the ability to design, build, program, and debug a stand-alone hardware kernel consisting of a microcontroller, memory, input/output (I/O) ports, and standard “glue” logic for use in embedded microcontroller applications.” [1] The course helps students learn the skills required to implement and program microcontrollers, using the Motorola 68HC912B32 as the platform, to construct embedded systems. Each cadet in the course is required to complete a final project that ties all concepts together in an interesting microcontroller-embedded project. The final project described in this paper was accomplished by the lead author and was identified by the instructor as one of the outstanding example projects in the course. The student chose to build the game of Tetris using the 68HC12 along with an AND1371 graphical liquid crystal display (LCD) and a Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) controller. Figure 1 illustrates the various

Proceedings of the 2005 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright © 2005, American Society for Engineering Education

Pack, D., & Mullins, B. (2005, June), Designing And Implementing An Embedded Microcontroller System: Tetris Game Paper presented at 2005 Annual Conference, Portland, Oregon. 10.18260/1-2--14500

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