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Mc68 Hc11 Portable Lab Unit A Flexible Tool For Teaching Microprocessor Concepts

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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

1.316.1 - 1.316.6



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Paper Authors

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Pamela J. Neal

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George W. P. York

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

Session 3532

MC68HC11 Portable Lab Unit -- A Flexible Tool for Teaching Microprocessor Concepts

Pamela J. Neal, George W. P. York U.S. Air Force Academy


One challenge when teaching assembly language and microprocessor basics is to provide enough hands-on experience to both teach the concepts and keep the course interesting. At the Air Force Academy, we have designed a self-contained lab unit that is portable, durable, flexible enough to support three courses, and relatively inexpensive. Centered around the Motorola 68HC11 Evaluation Board, the unit also includes a power supply, protoboard area, and enough storage to house the power cord, serial cable, wire kit and logic probe. Each student signs a unit out for the semester, and can take it to their dorm room. This allows students to program and run examples from the text as they are learning the concepts, rather than waiting for certain hours when labs are available. Students can also work on laboratory exercises and build associated circuits at their convenience. We are able to use this unit for courses ranging from basic microprocessor programming through our senior level microprocessor interfacing course. Our lab exercises range from simple tutorials, to stoplight controllers, to LCD and video controllers, to building a simple network. This unit is also useful for students using the 68HC11 as part of the senior design project. They find the portable lab unit is a convenient development platform so they can test the software and interfaces before programming a 68HC11 in the stand-alone mode. We will discuss the variety of topics we illustrate with hands-on exercises using the portable lab unit as well as the rationale behind choosing this microprocessor.


At the Air Force Academy, the heart of our Computer Engineering Track is a 3-semester course sequence which uses the Motorola 68HC11 as the processor of choice to teach assembly language programming, microprocessor system design, and microprocessor interfacing skills. The development board, the 68HC11 EVB, is used extensively in all three courses. In this paper, we discuss why we chose the 68HC11 as our processor, some logistical problems we encountered when using the EVB, and our solution to those problems: the Portable Lab Unit. Finally, we’ll discuss the types of labs we use the lab unit for, and our results in using the Portable Lab Unit.


In the 1980’s and early 90’s we were using the Zilog Z-80 and the Intel 8088 to teach microprocessor concepts. While these were fine processors, we felt our students could gain more practical knowledge in a shorter amount of time if we switched to a microcontroller. At the undergraduate level, we wanted to stay

1996 ASEE Annual Conference Proceedings

Neal, P. J., & York, G. W. P. (1996, June), Mc68 Hc11 Portable Lab Unit A Flexible Tool For Teaching Microprocessor Concepts Paper presented at 1996 Annual Conference, Washington, District of Columbia. 10.18260/1-2--6181

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