vb.net barcode reader tutorial AN OVERVIEW OF ROBOT BRAINS in Software

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AN OVERVIEW OF ROBOT BRAINS
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use in robots can cost as little as $1.00. A potential drawback to this type of microcontroller is the cost of a programmer, which can be very substantial for some chips. When source code is tokenized, it is passed through a compiler, just like regular application code, but instead of producing a series of instructions, the compiler produces a set of commands that are executed within the microcontroller. This type of microcontroller can have a series of very complex commands programmed into it, which makes them available to new application developers instead of having to puzzle out how to implement them. To further simplify the operation of this type of microcontroller, a bootloader program is typically already burned into them, allowing a simple programming operation that does not require any additional hardware. The Parallax BASIC Stamp 2 discussed later in this book is a bootloader-equipped microcontroller, which has a simple RS-232 programming (and console) interface. Both kinds of microcontroller are fully programmable, but bootloader-equipped microcontrollers, like the BASIC Stamp 2, are programmed in a high-level language such as BASIC. Stand-alone microcontrollers can usually be programmed in a variety of different high-level languages (BASIC, Java, C) as well as assembly language, giving a lot more flexibility to the application developer. Microcontrollers are available with 8, 16, or 32-bit processors. While PCs have long since graduated to 32-bit and higher architectures with protect mode and virtual memory operating systems, most applications for microcontrollers do not require more than eight bits. The exact format and contents of an assembly-language microcontroller program vary between manufacturers. The popular PIC microcontrollers from Microchip follow one language convention. Microcontrollers from Intel, Atmel, Motorola, NEC, Texas Instruments, Philips, Hitachi, Holtek, and other companies all follow their own conventions. While the basic functionality of microcontrollers from these different companies is similar, learning to use each one involves a learning curve. As a result, robot developers tend to fixate on one brand, and even one model, since learning a new assembly language and processor architecture can require a lot of extra work. Table 12-1 lists a number of different microcontrollers available on the market. 12.3.1.1 The Complete Computer System on a Chip A key benefit of microcontrollers is that they combine a microprocessor component with various inputs/outputs (I/O) that are typically needed to interface with the real world. For example, the 8051 controller sports the following features, many of which are fairly standard among microcontrollers:
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Central processing unit (CPU) CPU reset and clocking support circuitry Hardware interrupts Built-in timer or counter Programmable full-duplex serial port 32 I/O lines (four eight-bit ports) configurable as an eight-bit RAM and ROM/EPROM bus
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Some microcontrollers will have greater or fewer I/O lines, and not all have hardware interrupt inputs. Some will have special-purpose I/O for such things as voltage comparison or analog-to-digital conversion. Just as there is no one car that s perfect for everyone, each microcontroller s design will make it more suitable for certain applications than for others.
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12.3 TYPES OF COMPUTERS FOR ROBOTS
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TABLE 12-1
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Different Microcontrollers
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MICROCONTROLLER NAME PIC
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MANUFACTURER Microchip
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COMMENTS Many different part numbers that are very popular with roboticists. The PIC16F84 has been a traditional favorite, but new microcontrollers are better suited to robot applications. Lots of free development software and example applications available. The BASIC Stamp 2 uses a PIC MCU as its preprogrammed controller. Historically a very popular microcontroller for use in robots. Can be somewhat difficult and expensive to work with due to lack of tools available on the Internet. Note: freescale products used to be known as Motorola. Many different varieties and part numbers available from a plethora of manufacturers. The original parts are very simple but different manufacturers have MCUs with sophisticated interfaces. Lots of tools and example applications available on the Internet. Increasingly popular part for robot applications. Good free tools available for standard and MegaAVR parts. Used in many commercial robots. Tools available on the Internet but fewer example applications than available for other devices. Microcontroller version of the 8088 used in the original IBM PC. Can be somewhat difficult to find today and requires a BIOS chip for proper operation making it the most difficult to work with of the devices listed here.
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