What exactly does a microcontroller do?

I'm very new to electronics and how they work, and I was confused as to what a microcontroller was and what they did, and what they were used for.

thanks.

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  • 9 years ago
    Favorite Answer

    A microcontroller is essentially a computer in a single IC. It contains usually, at least a CPU, RAM, ROM, and usually a few other features for input/output like perhaps analogue to digital converters etc. all in one IC package. A microprocessor is usually just essentially the CPU itself (maybe a few other features)

    Mircocontrollers are extremely useful for embeded systems (computers as part of some larger system, like a robot for example), because they are simple and cheap. Often you dont need any other parts like seperate memory or logic, it all comes built in the microcontroller.

    What are they used for?

    Many people dont realise, but most computers in the world arent things that sit on your desk with a mouse and keyboard. They are in TVs, DVD players, phones, microwave ovens, cars, traffic lights, industrial machines, telephone networks... basically any moderately complex modern electrical device will probably have a microprocessor or controller in it. I have a simple electric gate motor controller here with a microcontroller in it.

  • Anonymous
    9 years ago

    New robot builders have many decisions to make. One important one is how to put their creation into motion doing something interesting. Eventually, the choice has to be made about which Microcontroller to base their robot on (if any at all!). This article is going to describe some of the basic features of the Microcontroller that newer users may not know about. I will then discuss some of the tradeoffs in choosing a particular Microcontroller.

    Microcontroller 101

    So, what does a Microcontroller do? Most Microcontrollers are general purpose Microprocessors which have additional parts that allow them to control external devices. We often use the terms Microcontroller and Microprocessor interchangably.

    A designer will use a Microcontroller to

    Gather input from various sensors

    Process this input into a set of actions

    Use the output mechanisms on the Microcontroller to do something useful

    The 'general purpose' attribute of a Microcontroller is very significant, and shouldn't be overlooked. A general purpose Microcontroller is a very powerful tool that allows a designer to create a special purpose design. The design becomes partially hardware and partially software. There is great flexibility in the software end, as the designer can create practically unlimited variations on the design by changing the software.

  • 9 years ago

    A microcontroller is a programmable device. Normally it is provided with the elements of a computer (memory, processor, etc.) plus pins (wiring connections) that allow sending on-off signals out and receiving them. While it is possible to do many tasks with fixed electronic parts (capacitors, resistors, transistors, etc.) often a more complicated task requires so many parts that assembly gets expensive and prone to error. If bunch of these can be replaced with a controller with few connections and the ability to be changed in purpose and plugged into the same base circuit.

    If a device includes a LED or LCD display and a keypad - like a microwave - it can be made much more cheaply with a controller managing them

  • 3 years ago

    What Does A Microcontroller Do

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  • Anonymous
    9 years ago

    Micro controller..

    Have never heard of that..

    Maybe its a NEW device to replace a micro switch..

    Sounds as if it has 2-functions running in the same device..

    Like read-send../

    Micro switches might be connected to DC circuits and relays..

    While a micro controller would require its own system board.

    Source(s): Just a guess.
  • ALEX
    Lv 6
    9 years ago

    It does what you want it to.

    Check out ' Revolution Education ', for information on the Picaxe controllers. All software is free.

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