The Rammifications of Thought

So what's on your mind?

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Filler update

A filler post about my final year project, as a follow-up to the upcoming MiCE exhibition.

I guess not everyone's an electronics engineer so I'll try to explain this as well as I can in layman's terms. But please spare me the gallows if I use any technical jargon :)

Well, my project is basically to develop a compiler for users to program a microcontroller. Here's an illustrated flow of what happens:

First, you program! Not like C or BASIC but through the drawing of "ladders" like the one shown below. Compiler is software; your program goes in, gets processed, and the compiler churns out millions and millions of teeny-weeny bits of 1's and 0's, called a binary (or hex) file.

These 1's and 0's that I mentioned, they're the basic building blocks of everything digital. I mean, you wouldn't even be reading this if it weren't for these two magical numbers. They also tell the microcontroller what to do.

So now that the hex file is ready, it's time to download it into the microcontroller chip, to see whether my compiler functions correctly or not. The one with the white label below is the controller, located on this green thingamajig called a PCB.

These controllers are a flexible lot. They can be used in cameras, industrial machines, automobiles, even guided missiles and nuclear bombs if you like :) But in my case, it'll probably be used for educational or training purposes (NOT for terrorist training of course!)

Oh, and I'll need to power up the whole thing using the power supply.

When the downloading finishes, the program is ready to run on the board. I've done a simple traffic lights program where the lights will go on and off after a certain amount of time.

So, turn on the switch and...

Voila! It's Christmas time!

Did I inspire you to one day take up a basic electronics course, or even get a masters in one?

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