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Introducing A Microprocessor Laboratory Experience For Entering Freshmen

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1996 Annual Conference


Washington, District of Columbia

Publication Date

June 23, 1996

Start Date

June 23, 1996

End Date

June 26, 1996



Page Count


Page Numbers

1.283.1 - 1.283.4

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Paper Authors

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Christopher R. Carroll

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

Session 3220

Introducing a Microprocessor Laboratory Experience for Entering Freshmen

Christopher R. Carroll University of Minnesota, Duluth

Abstract As part of a new freshman course in Electrical and Computer Engineering at the University of Minnesota, Duluth, each faculty member in the department was asked to introduce the students entering the program to an area of speciality in his or her field. This paper reports the approach, methods, hardware, and results involved in introducing new students to a microprocessor laboratory experience. Included is a description of the microprocessor system used by the students, software experiments performed in class and in homework exercises, and feedback from students regarding the microprocessor portion of the course. In short, teaching entering students how to use a microprocessor system was rewarding and enlightening both for the students and for the author.

Background Students entering an engineering program are faced with a daunting sequence of math and physics courses that must be completed before traditional engineering topics can be addressed properly. Most engineering topics require some skills in calculus and differential equations and some knowledge of basic physical phenomena to use as foundations for developing material. Microprocessor programming and interfacing is one area that does not require sophisticated preparation, and with today’s technology, significant microprocessor-based systems can be described and used in introductory classes without exceeding the preparation level of beginning engineering students. Furthermore, particularly in a department called Electrical and Computer Engineering, introducing microprocessors very early in the students’ technical careers incites interest and inspires excitement in the topic and in the program.

Because other faculty in the department also were eager to present their own special areas of expertise in this new quarter-long freshman course, very limited time was available for devoting to a single topic such as microprocessor systems. Consequently, the choice of processor and of topics to be included was critical to success. The processor selected is a microcontroller in Motorola’s 6805 family line. This family is well-established and still popular. In fact, during 1995 Motorola ran a design contest based on a member of that same processor family. The processor offers manageable simplicity while exposing students to all basic techniques of memory addressing, data manipulation, and input/output. The topics for discussion in class focussed on arithmetic, including software techniques for multiplication and division, and interfacing to a keypad and multi-digit display.

Hardware The hardware implementing the microprocessor laboratory stations for this course had to be absolutely minimal in all respects. Virtually no time was available in class for describing more than just rudimentary connections between the processor and necessary input and output devices, and any extraneous components had to be avoided. The resulting lab station hardware is based around the Motorola 68705P3 microcontroller, and is built into an old telephone handset. The 68705P3 is a full-featured microcomputer on one chip, including clock generation with no external components and

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Carroll, C. R. (1996, June), Introducing A Microprocessor Laboratory Experience For Entering Freshmen Paper presented at 1996 Annual Conference, Washington, District of Columbia.

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