# Part 1: Intro to Microcontrollers With Emulation

## Introduction¶

This lesson will introduce you to programming the Arduino microcontroller board using an electronics emulator.

## Objectives¶

After the lesson students will be able to:

• explain what a microcontroller is and what it may be used for
• use an emulator to program and simulate and Arduino
• program an Arduino with basic C code

## Microcontrollers¶

Microcontrollers are very simple computers that have a central processing unit (CPU), memory, and various electrical inputs and outputs. They allow us to enhance electrical circuits with logic and algorithms. They are particularly useful to engineers due to the ability to implement control systems for driving electrically controlled actuators. They allow you write programs that can execute in real time. The are typically used as "embedded systems", i.e. for lightweight very specific use hardware enhancements.

Examples:

• PIC family of chipsets.
• AVR family of chipsets.

It is important to note the difference between computers and microcontrollers. Computers may have multiple CPUs with many more inputs and outputs. They also have more and varied memory. Computers can typically display to rich displays and handle many standardized peripherals. Finally, a computer typically runs an operating system that manages many processes at once and interfaces with complex hardware. Operating systems typically do not execute their commands in real time, but are queued.

Examples:

## Emulation¶

In general, the code you write on your computer for the microcontroller must be compiled, i.e. transformed into the language of the Arduino's CPU, and then uploaded onto the Arduino's memory. To try out code on the Arduino you must have the actual hardware. But during this lesson we will make use of an Arduino emulator which allows us to try out code we want to run on an Arduino without having the actual hardware. There are a number of Arduino emulators available, but we will make use of a web application called TinkerCAD.

1. Visit TinkerCAD and create an account.
3. From your profile page, Select "Circuits" and "Create new Circuit".
Components
Open a library of components that can be dropped onto the workspace.
The breadboard is a basic component that has a grid of pins inputs where wires can be inserted. The rows along the top and bottom are connected internally and generally used to supply a common voltage and ground. The columns in the middle rows are connected together internally.

Search for Arduino Uno and drag it onto the screen.

The Arduino board has an MCU chip which is connected to the black pins along the edges. There is an USB plug to connect to your computer for communication purposes and can also be used to power the Arduino itself. Look at the pin labels on the board.

Ground
The common ground for the circuit (the negative polarity side of the circuit).
5V
A 5V power supply which can provide up to 900 milli-amps of current depending on the power source.
Digital I/O
Pins that can read binary inputs and write binary outputs.
Pins that can read continuous inputs and convert them to a digital signal.
Code button
Here you can edit the code that will be loaded onto any component that excepts code, e.g. the Arduino UNO. Make sure to select "Text" instead of blocks.
Serial monitor
This will display the outputs of the USB connection on the Arduino board.
Start Simulation
This will run the simulation of the circuit.

## C Language¶

The Arduino can be programmed by writing code in the C programming language. C is a low level language that compiles directly to machine code for different CPU architectures and is one of the most widely used programming languages. Most work with microcontrollers is done in C.

Click on the 'Code' button and switch from 'Blocks' to the 'Text' editor in the dropdown box. Now you can code directly in the C language instead of using simplified code blocks.

## Variables¶

Objectives:

• Explain how to declare and assign variables.
• Introduce the integer and double precision variables.
• Explain how to convert (cast) one type to another.

If you want to use a variable you have to specify the type of the variable when you declare it. In the following case, a variable that holds the number for the pin that is connected to the onboard LED is declared:

int led = 13;


Here the int specifies this value to be a signed integer, i.e. any positive or negative whole number. led is the name of the variable and 13 is the value assigned to it. Finally, a ; is required to close the statement.

There are a number of other variable types: double, float, bool, char, etc. For decimal values we will make use of a double precision variable in this lesson. For example:

double measurement = 0.0;


Lastly, you may need to cast variables of one type to another type. For example you can convert an integer to a double with:

int int_val = 1;
double double_val = (double) int_val;


Note that the casting prefix only applies to the value directly adjacent to it. This works:

int a = 1;
int b = 2
(double) a * (double) b;


But this does not:

int a = 1;
int b = 2
(double) a * b;


### Exercise¶

What will the value and type of the variable result be in the following code?

int a = 10;
int b = 5;
double c = 2.4;

? result = (int) c * b + a;

1. 22.00 (a double)
2. 20 (an integer)
3. 22 (an integer)
4. 20.00 (a double)
5. 30 (an integer)
6. the program will error due to incompatible types

## Functions: setup(), loop(), and custom¶

Objectives:

• Understand what a function is, how to write one, and how to use one.
• Learn what the required setup() and loop() functions are.

For the first program let's send values from the Arduino to the connected computer using the Universal Serial Bus (USB). Before we can do this we need to discuss the two main functions that are in every Arduino program. The first function is the setup() function and you specify it like so:

void setup() {

};


The first word is void and this specifies what type of variable the setup() function will return. In this case, the type void means that the setup function will not return anything, which is convention for this function. Also convention, is the function name setup, which tells the Arduino that whatever is in this function must be run once before the Arduino starts the main computation loop. This is typically used for setting the initial states of pins or initializing various attached devices. The () parentheses typically hold the arguments to the function but as convention setup has no arguments. Finally the braces {} bound the code that will execute in that function.

The second function that must be in every Arduino program is called loop. This function executes once every clock cycle (at 16 MHz), or as fast as it can, and contains the main code for your application. The function follows the style of setup and looks like:

void loop() {

};


You can also create your own custom functions. These functions typically take a number of arguments (inputs) and return a single output. The following function computes the average of three values:

 double average(double first_val, double second_val, double third_val) {

double result = (first_val + second_val + third_val) / 3;

return result;
};


Note that the type of the arguments must be declared in the call signature. The function can be used as such:

double a = 1;
double b = 2;
double c = 3;

average(a, b, c);


which will result in the value 2.0.

Note that variables declared inside functions will not be available to other functions.

### Exercise¶

What will the result of the following code be if the values returned by the square() function were displayed to the screen in the loop() function?

int counter = 1;

int square(int a) {
return a * a;
};

void setup() {
int a = 5;
square(a);
};

void loop() {
square(counter);
counter = counter + 1;
};


### Exercise¶

What is wrong with the following code?

void setup() {
int a = 5;
};

void loop() {
int result = a + a;
};


Since a is declared inside the setup() function it will not be available in the loop() function due to the scoping rules of the Processing language. You can make a available to the setup() and loop() functions by declaring it globally, i.e. outside and above each function.

## Serial Communications¶

Objectives:

• To understand the serial communications available on an Arduino.
• To learn to print the results of a calculation to the serial port.

The Arduino is capable of communicating using serial communications and we can send simple ASCII text to and from the Arduino. There are many builtin functions that are predefined that can be used in an Arduino program. To initialize a serial communication with the Arduino at a communication baud rate of 9600 symbols per second you can call:

Serial.begin(9600);


This function is typically called in setup().

You can print ASCII values to the serial communication port with the print() and println() functions, where the difference is that the former doesn't print a newline character (\n), and the latter appends the newline character automatically. The following code will print the integer values to the serial port:

int a = 15;
Serial.print(a)
Serial.println(a)
Serial.println(a)


The result would be:

1515
15


Let's modify the above exercise code so that we can see if our guess about the result of the code is correct. You will need to open the serial monitor while this code simulates to see the results. After you modify the code, simulate it, and open the serial monitor to see the display.

### Exercise¶

Add some print statements to your code so that you can see the results of the square() function calls on the serial monitor.

Solution:

int counter = 1;

int square(int a) {
return a * a;
}

void setup() {
Serial.begin(9600);
int a = 5;
Serial.println(square(a));
};

void loop() {
Serial.println(square(counter));
counter = counter + 1;
}


## Digital I/O¶

The digital I/O pins on the board can be set to either input or output mode and can be activated or deactivated as you see fit for your particular application.

Typically in setup() you will set the mode of the particular pin to input or output, for example:

int led_pin_num = 13;

void setup() {
pinMode(led_pin_num, OUTPUT);
};


In the above code, the builtin function pinMode() is used to set mode of pin number 13 to OUTPUT which is a builtin predefined variable [1].

It turns out that pin #13 on the Arduino is wired in parallel to a small LED on the board. So we can make this LED blink by utilizing the builtin digitalWrite() function. In addition, the builtin delay() function can be used to control the duration of the cycle.

void loop() {
digitalWrite(led_pin_num, HIGH);
delay(100);
digitalWrite(led_pin_num, LOW);
delay(100);
};


HIGH and LOW are builtin global variables that cause the pins to create maximum and minimum voltage, respectively.

 [1] All caps are convention for global variables.

### Exercise¶

Plug in an LED to the breadboard and connect its anode (+, long side) to a 150 ohm resistor [2]. Then connect the other end of the resistor to the number 13 pin. Finally, connect the LED's cathode (-, short side) to the ground pin and confirm that the LED component blinks the same as the on board LED.

Simple LED Solution

 [2] The resistor ensures that the LED doesn't draw more current than the Arduino board and the LED can handle.

## Conditionals¶

C supports flow control with if statements. For example, if you'd like to activate the on-board LED every 100 milliseconds except on every 5th cycle wait for 1000 milliseconds. You could use:

int count = 0;

void setup() {
pinMode(led_pin_num, OUTPUT);
}

void loop() {
if (count % 5 == 0) {
digitalWrite(led_pin_num, HIGH);
delay(1000);
digitalWrite(led_pin_num, LOW);
delay(1000);
} else {
digitalWrite(led_pin_num, HIGH);
delay(100);
digitalWrite(led_pin_num, LOW);
delay(100);
};
count = count + 1;
}


The % operator computes the modulus (remainder after division).

### Exercise¶

What does the following code do?

if (digitalRead(13) == HIGH) {
digitalWrite(12, HIGH);
else {
digitalWrite(12, LOW);
}


## Loops¶

There are two types of loops available for use for and while loops. To do something a specific number of times you can use a for loop. For example, this loop will execute ten times, i.e. i = 0, 1, 2, ..., 9.

for (int i = 0; i < 10; i++) {

int milliseconds = i * 100;
digitalWrite(led_pin_num, HIGH);
delay(milliseconds);
digitalWrite(led_pin_num, LOW);
delay(milliseconds);

}

delay(5000);


There are six analog input pins on the Arduino Uno. Sources that supply continuous voltage from 0 to 5 volts can be read using these pins. For example, it is useful for reading the voltage from a potentiometer. To read the voltage from pin A0 you call:

int pin_num = A0;



Note that this returns an integer. The on-board analog to digital converter has 10 bit resolution, i.e. 2^10 = 1024 possible readings. The values 0 to 1023 are mapped to 0 to 5 volts, i.e. .0049 volts per step. You will need a conversion factor to convert the value from an integer to a voltage value of double precision.

### Exercise¶

Drop in a power supply component and connect the black pin to the Arduino's ground and the red pin to the A0 pin. Write some code that causes the voltage to display to the serial monitor and ensure that it matches the voltage supplied by the power supply.