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Microcontrollers In Education: Embedded Control – Everywhere And Everyday

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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

10.938.1 - 10.938.10

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Paper Authors

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Eduardo Montanez

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Andrew Mastronardi

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

Microcontrollers in Education: Embedded Control – Everywhere and Everyday

Eduardo Montañez Freescale Semiconductor


Microcontrollers (MCUs) are used for embedded control in virtually every field of science and engineering. The smallest MCUs have only six pins and are used in toys, appliances, and for tasks as simple as interfacing a few switches in a car door. More sophisticated MCUs have processing horsepower rivaling that of the most powerful desktop computers and are used to perform complex real-time fuel and spark timing computations in modern automobile engines. Everywhere and everyday, hundreds of MCUs drive the many appliances that simplify our daily tasks. To the consumer, MCUs typically go unnoticed, but in industry they are very important.

This paper stresses the importance of establishing a strong curriculum surrounding MCUs at various levels of engineering education. Most importantly, we must spark the student’s interest in MCUs in introductory engineering courses by introducing the subject in a very simple form. Students can be easily discouraged by the subject if they are initially drowned by complex MCU architectures and robust programming languages. Though these two topics are necessary to have a full understanding of MCUs, students gain more interest in MCUs if they were first given a glimpse of an end application. This gives students a better sense of what they can achieve by learning more about MCUs.

This paper introduces one of the smallest and least expensive 8-bit MCUs. This MCU is in the MC68HC08 Family of MCUs and is available in both 8- and 16-pin DIP packages. The specific MCU used in this paper is the MC68HC908QY41 in a 16-pin DIP package, which features:

• 4K bytes of Flash and 128 bytes of RAM memory • 2-channel 16-bit timer with selectable input capture, output compare, and PWM • 4-channel 8-bit analog-to-digital converter • Flexible high-current I/O and keyboard interrupts

This MCU is ideal to ease students with little or no previous knowledge of MCU architecture into the world of MCUs. I will cover all the fundamentals to get started with this device, allowing the student to focus on the end application. Specific topics to be covered include:

• Microcontroller Student Learning Kit (MCUSLK)2 • Monitor modes for serial communication • Metrowerks’ CodeWarrior development tools3

In conclusion, a simple application will incorporate all the elements discussed in the paper.

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

Montanez, E., & Mastronardi, A. (2005, June), Microcontrollers In Education: Embedded Control – Everywhere And Everyday Paper presented at 2005 Annual Conference, Portland, Oregon.

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