“How to” Build Custom Microcontroller Projects for Fun and Profit (Well mostly fun)

A Presentation by Ross Smith

This presentation looks at how to develop your own custom microcontroller hardware from scratch. Often laptops and general purpose computers are too powerful and too large to use for simple hardware projects. Often you can perform tasks like controlling DC motors, stepper motors, switches, LCDs, LEDs, buzzers/speakers etc. efficiently and effectively using inexpensive/free microcontrollers. Other benefits such as extremely small size and ultra low power consumption are also inherent benefits of most popular microcontrollers.

I will describe the Texas Instruments MSP430 family of microcontrollers, a powerful low voltage microcontroller that can be obtained at no cost using techniques I will show you. I will describe the entire process needed to develop your own projects starting with where to obtain free microcontrollers, the process needed to design and etch your own Printed Circuit Boards. Followed by a “how to” explaining the process needed to set up GCC and associated tool chain so you can develop software four your newly developed project hardware.

I also have a number of interesting previous projects that demonstrate how I have used the controllers in the past. This demonstrates how to implement RS232 serial ports, Bluetooth, simple bus design, Buttons (I/O), LED indicators, LCD, Analogue to Digital Converters, motor controlling (PWM), stepper motors and more. Over time while working on these projects I have compiled many of the different design features into a generic board. Both schematic design and code examples will be available for interested parties.

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