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Sampling the World
Raffi C. Krikorian, Synthesis Studios, Inc.

Track: Emerging Technology Tutorial
Date: Monday, February 09
Time: 1:30pm - 5:00pm
Location: Plaza

At 4 to 20 MHz, microcontrollers have clocks that are fast enough to measure the world. With simple instrumentation, they can sample almost any human-scale interaction. Also, with some clever software tricks, a modern microcontroller is more than powerful enough to run a full-fledged TCP/IP stack and a web server. However, what most people don't realize is that these micros are trivial enough for anybody, even the kitchen table hacker, to hand-solder and program. People should not be scared to leave the safe confines of the software world and join the hardware fad.

Microcontrollers are very simple computational blocks that almost anybody can use. In this tutorial, you will be introduced to one of the newer yet more popular microcontrollers in use now -- Texas Instruments MSP430. This particular device has a decent amount of memory (for a microcontroller), draws a very small amount of power, and is really simple to program. In standard crash-course learning style, we'll cover:

  • Microcontroller/microprocessor basics.

  • Drawing up a simple project's schematic.

  • Laying out a board.

  • Writing and debugging for embedded projects.
  • We'll use GCC and other open source and/or free tools to plan out our projects. Attendees with Windows or Linux laptops can install the software used in the demonstration and follow along. At the end, we'll "burn" the code onto a board and see if it works.

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