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Microchip electronics :: Asperger Technical

 

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 Post subject: Microchip electronics
Post Number:#1  PostPosted: Wed Jul 30, 2008 1:46 pm 
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Joined: 3rd April, 2007
Posts: 90
Microchip Electronics was an electronics set from the 1980s with circuits centred around the LF353 op-amp IC. The set also contained a blue breadboard and a selection of electronic components including resistors, capacitors, transistors and LEDs. The circuits were powered from two 9V batteries arranged in the classic +9V -9V arrangement used for op-amps.

The instruction manual had designs for over 100 circuits including sound effects generators, metal detectors, motor drivers, and radio control.

Electronics sets are still available but there doesn't seem to be anything close to the level of sophistication of Microchip Electronics on sale in Britain.


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     Post subject: Re: Microchip electronics
    Post Number:#2  PostPosted: Tue Jan 13, 2009 4:02 pm 
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    Joined: 1st July, 2007
    Posts: 20
    Location: UK
    I don't think many kids want to build things any more. They would rather play video games instead. There are lots of electronics sets around but most are systems rather than component level. Lego Mindstorms is one example. I found electronics sets with components too fiddly. The sets that had components built into consoles and all you had to do was connect them with wires were much easier to use.

    I never really enjoyed analogue electronics with real components or digital electronics with logic gates but I love microcontrollers. Development boards are available for the PIC and AVR complete with buttons and LCD displays. You write programs on a PC then download them into the microcontroller's flash memory. They are great fun to play with and I think they are the modern electronics sets.


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       Post subject: Re: Microchip electronics
      Post Number:#3  PostPosted: Wed Jan 14, 2009 11:51 am 
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      Joined: 3rd April, 2007
      Posts: 90
      It took many years for microcontrollers to become popular with electronics hobbyists and some educational institutions. I once had a collection of nearly 1,000 plans for electronics projects published in the 1980s. There were many projects with microprocessors such as the Z80 and 6502, and even the occasional project with a 68000, but fewer than 20 projects contained a microcontroller. Even as recently as 1990 many technical colleges did not cover microcontrollers in their course although they covered microprocessors, usually from the perspective of desktop computers.

      When I was at university the microprocessor course involved building a small project using a traditional 8051 microcontroller in a 40 pin DIL package. The program was stored in a separate UV erasable EPROM that was connected to the 8051 with a 74HC573 8-bit latch.

      It was Microchip who were responsible for putting microcontrollers into the hands of electronics hobbyists and technical colleges when they released the PIC16C84 back in 1993. The PIC actually dates back to 1975 but did not become mainstream until the mid 1990s when devices with flash memory became available. The success of the PIC was the result of marketing rather than technology. Microchip decided to give away their development tools for free and publish information on how to program devices. This contrasts sharply with several other microcontroller manufacturers at the time with their very expensive development systems and a reluctance to reveal information on how to program devices to anybody except manufacturers of generally expensive device programmers. The PIC16 series revolutionised the electronics hobbyist scene during the mid to late 1990s despite having a horrible architecture poorly suited for programming in C. A new breed of electronics hobbyists was created who designed their projects around PIC microcontrollers with only a few other components and focused most of their effort on the software. By the late 1990s an increasing number of technical colleges and universities were incorporating microcontrollers into their courses. In 2002 Microchip released the PIC18 series with an architecture vastly better than that of the PIC16 series and designed to be programmed using C.

      Development boards are now available for many microcontrollers including the Atmel AVR, 8051, and the Coldfire 68000 series, in addition to the PIC. Some of these development boards have few onboard peripherals and are designed to be connected to LEDs, sensors, motors, etc. which makes them ideal for robotics or home automation. Other development boards are fitted with peripherals such as keypads or LCD displays which makes them ideal for experimenting or self contained projects. These development boards are highly suitable for users who want to build projects without having to fiddle about handling small components or soldering. I have encountered kids as young as 10 years old use them and some secondary schools now incorporate them into the systems and control GCSE.


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         Post subject: Re: Microchip electronics
        Post Number:#4  PostPosted: Thu Jan 15, 2009 2:15 pm 
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        Joined: 1st July, 2007
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        Location: UK
        What an interesting history of microcontrollers. I never got treated to PIC microcontrollers in my electronics GCSE at secondary school. The teacher hardly knew a thing about electronics and had never even heard of the PIC. I wanted to use a PIC in my project but the teacher said I couldn't use anything more exotic than a 555 timer. The only part of the course that was any fun was the bit about vacuum forming plastic.

        When I was at secondary school I had a warning light module and control box from a Ford Sierra with lights for low fuel, low oil, low screenwash, low coolant, and worn out brakepads. It was fitted as standard in high spec Mk1 Sierras like the GL and Ghia but it wasn't fitted in any Mk2 Sierras for some strange reason or other. I liked the way that all the lights would come on for a few seconds to test the bulbs when you powered it up.


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           Post subject: Re: Microchip electronics
          Post Number:#5  PostPosted: Thu Jan 15, 2009 10:14 pm 
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          Joined: 1st June, 2007
          Posts: 48
          2 plus 8 wrote:
          When I was at secondary school I had a warning light module and control box from a Ford Sierra with lights for low fuel, low oil, low screenwash, low coolant, and worn out brakepads. It was fitted as standard in high spec Mk1 Sierras like the GL and Ghia but it wasn't fitted in any Mk2 Sierras for some strange reason or other. I liked the way that all the lights would come on for a few seconds to test the bulbs when you powered it up.


          These five warning lights were also found on high spec Escorts and Orions in the early 80s but disappeared from the facelifted cars in the late 80s. They were at the bottom of the instrument panel rather than in a separate module in the centre of the dashboard. It intrigued me why an X reg Escort GL had them but a G reg XR3i and an F reg Orion Ghia injection didn't have them. Were they unreliable? I think it was a very impressive feature on cars of this class.

          I'm sure the warning light system was reinstalled on either the Ghia or XR4x4 version of the Sierra when the range was facelifted in 1991 with the curvy dashboard but one of the lights, either for low oil or worn out brakepads, was missing.


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             Post subject: Re: Microchip electronics
            Post Number:#6  PostPosted: Fri Jan 16, 2009 12:04 am 
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            Joined: 3rd April, 2007
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            2 plus 8 wrote:
            What an interesting history of microcontrollers. I never got treated to PIC microcontrollers in my electronics GCSE at secondary school. The teacher hardly knew a thing about electronics and had never even heard of the PIC. I wanted to use a PIC in my project but the teacher said I couldn't use anything more exotic than a 555 timer. The only part of the course that was any fun was the bit about vacuum forming plastic.


            The electronics GCSE course was seriously out of date around 2001ish. I remember finding a magazine article criticising the course for being based around technology of the 1970s and it didn't include new developments such as CAD and microcontrollers. There was another article from an angry teacher about exam boards still using the obsolete and expensive BC108 transistor instead of the plastic packaged BC548 that is much cheaper.

            Quote:
            When I was at secondary school I had a warning light module and control box from a Ford Sierra with lights for low fuel, low oil, low screenwash, low coolant, and worn out brakepads. It was fitted as standard in high spec Mk1 Sierras like the GL and Ghia but it wasn't fitted in any Mk2 Sierras for some strange reason or other. I liked the way that all the lights would come on for a few seconds to test the bulbs when you powered it up.


            My BMW E30 320i has all of these lights. Some of them are LEDs in a console above the rear view mirror along with warning lights for blown bulbs. The same car also has a service indicator in the form of a row of LEDs in the instrument panel that tell you when to change the oil or carry out an inspection.


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               Post subject: Re: Microchip electronics
              Post Number:#7  PostPosted: Fri Jan 16, 2009 11:28 pm 
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              Joined: 1st July, 2007
              Posts: 20
              Location: UK
              I've got a 1985 Sierra 1.6 GL that has the warning light module installed and it works perfectly. The low oil sensor is built into the dipstick and you can check that it is working by pulling the dipstick out before starting the engine.

              Have you ever encountered microcontroller ICs with a socket on the upper surface for a ROM chip? They look really surreal.


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                 Post subject: Re: Microchip electronics
                Post Number:#8  PostPosted: Sun Jan 25, 2009 1:56 am 
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                Joined: 3rd April, 2007
                Posts: 90
                2 plus 8 wrote:
                Have you ever encountered microcontroller ICs with a socket on the upper surface for a ROM chip? They look really surreal.


                Very surreal - and also very expensive.

                These 'piggyback' microcontrollers with a socket for an EPROM were quite common in the 1980s (before flash memory was fully developed) and were available for most microcontroller families. Most piggyback microcontrollers cost around 5 times as much as the standard microcontroller they were based on, so they were restricted to protyping and product development, and very rarely appeared in end user products.

                The idea behind piggyback microcontrollers was that the software could be changed during prototyping by replacing or reprogramming the EPROM. Alternatively they could be used with a ROM emulator instead of an EPROM. When the software was finally right, then the piggyback microcontroller would be replaced with either a mask programmed or OTP microcontroller in the end user product.

                Once microcontrollers with reprogrammable flash memory became commercially available, piggyback microcontrollers were rendered obsolete and few remained in production after the early 1990s.

                Microcontrollers with inbuilt EPROM memory were also available in the 1980s and 1990s. They are identified by having a circular glass window with the silicon chip visible below it. These microcontrollers cost more than the standard microcontroller they were based on but usually cost less than a piggyback microcontroller. They were used for prototyping and small scale production of end user products, but were also made obsolete by microcontrollers with flash memory.

                Here are some datasheets for the Hitachi HD6301 microcontroller which is similar to the Motorola MC6801.

                HD6301Y0 - The standard microcontroller. Can be mask programmed.

                HD63P01 - The piggyback microcontroller. Also includes information on the development system for the HD6301.

                HD63701Y0 - The microcontroller with an inbuilt EPROM memory. Also includes information on how to program them.


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                   Post subject: Re: Microchip electronics
                  Post Number:#9  PostPosted: Fri Mar 06, 2009 3:31 pm 
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                  Joined: 1st July, 2007
                  Posts: 20
                  Location: UK
                  Canopus wrote:
                  These 'piggyback' microcontrollers with a socket for an EPROM were quite common in the 1980s (before flash memory was fully developed) and were available for most microcontroller families. Most piggyback microcontrollers cost around 5 times as much as the standard microcontroller they were based on, so they were restricted to protyping and product development, and very rarely appeared in end user products.

                  The idea behind piggyback microcontrollers was that the software could be changed during prototyping by replacing or reprogramming the EPROM. Alternatively they could be used with a ROM emulator instead of an EPROM. When the software was finally right, then the piggyback microcontroller would be replaced with either a mask programmed or OTP microcontroller in the end user product.


                  So that's what they were used for.

                  Quote:
                  Microcontrollers with inbuilt EPROM memory were also available in the 1980s and 1990s. They are identified by having a circular glass window with the silicon chip visible below it. These microcontrollers cost more than the standard microcontroller they were based on but usually cost less than a piggyback microcontroller. They were used for prototyping and small scale production of end user products, but were also made obsolete by microcontrollers with flash memory.


                  I think I have encountered a few of these as well


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                     Post subject: Re: Microchip electronics
                    Post Number:#10  PostPosted: Thu Jul 30, 2009 12:25 pm 
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                    Joined: 1st July, 2007
                    Posts: 20
                    Location: UK
                    I opened up a Nutricia Flocare 800 peristaltic pump and found an HD63B03YP microcontroller inside. It's in a DIL package with what looks like an EPROM chip next to it. Any ideas how old it is?


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