beginner-friendly electronics tutorials and projects

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How to configure your PIC microcontroller

August 17, 2019 tutorial

In every single PIC microcontroller project we do it: set the configuration bits. But what does that accomplish? In this tutorial we will go through the basic options for these “configuration bits” and we will focus on the PIC16F627A microcontroller so that we have a concrete example. Keep reading.

  • configuration bit
  • PIC microcontroller
  • FOSC
  • WDTE
  • LVP
  • CPD
  • CP
  • oscillator selection
  • watchdog timer
  • power-up timer
  • brown-out detection
  • low-voltage programming
  • EEPROM memory code protection
  • code protection
  • tutorial

How to adjust LED brightness with a PIC microcontroller

August 2, 2019 tutorial

In our first real microcontroller project we made an LED blink: it could be either ON or OFF. But what if you want to control the brightness of the LED and dim it? With a microcontroller this is usually accomplished by pulse width modulation, or PWM for short, and in this tutorial we will learn how to dim an LED using the PWM module inside a PIC16F627A microcontroller! Keep reading.

  • tutorial
  • PWM
  • LED
  • pulse width modulation
  • dimming
  • RC filter
  • analog-to-digital converter
  • DAC
  • beginner-friendly
  • breadboard
  • schematics
  • microcontroller

Programming a 1Hz clock signal

July 5, 2019 tutorial

Electronic clocks are everywhere, so it is probably a good idea to learn how they work. And the most important part of a clock is, of course, the clock signal. In this tutorial we will learn how to generate a reliable 1Hz signal using a PIC microcontroller. In the end, we will write a small program that makes an LED blink precisely once a second. And soon enough, we will be able to build our first digital clock using this technique! Keep reading.

  • clock
  • 1 Hertz
  • quartz crystal
  • 4.194304MHz
  • microcontroller
  • timer
  • prescaler
  • interrupts
  • C code
  • .hex file

Schematics 101 – how to read them and not get overwhelmed

May 31, 2019 tutorial

Whenever you build an electronics project that surpasses a certain complexity, a schematic is needed. Schematics show all the components in an electric or electronic circuit, and how these components are connected to each other. At the same time, they can be quite hard to understand and it is easy to get overwhelmed. In this tutorial we will go through the basics of schematics, and I will list a few helpful strategies to understand even complicated schematics. Keep reading.

  • schematics
  • circuit
  • beginner
  • power supply
  • ICs
  • labels
  • junctions
  • conventions

How to read out a pushbutton with a PIC microcontroller

May 24, 2019 tutorial

In this week's post we will discuss the simple question of how to read-out the state of a pushbutton using a microcontroller. How can we check if a button is pushed down or not? What are common pitfalls? I am convinced that breaking down a more complicated project in little digestible pieces is a great idea to develop a deep understanding of a topic. So here we go! Keep reading.

  • pushbutton
  • tristate register
  • pullup resistor
  • pulldown resistor
  • debouncing
  • tutorial
  • beginner-friendly
  • microcontroller

Buttons and switches 101

May 18, 2019 tutorial

Whenever a circuit relies on an external mechanical input we use switches or buttons. I thought it would be interesting to collect the most common variants of switches and buttons that are typically found in electronics. Please let me know if I missed your favorite one! Keep reading.

  • pushbutton
  • switch
  • tactile switch
  • toggle switch
  • DIP switch
  • slide switch
  • limit switch
  • rotary switch
  • rotary BCD DIP switch
  • rotary hex DIP switch
  • reed switch
  • relay

Breadboards 101 – What do you need to know?

May 3, 2019 tutorial

Breadboards are incredibly useful for beginners in electronics. They are affordable, versatile, and re-usable. Nevertheless, there are a few key points to keep in mind when using them. In this tutorial we will go through the basic properties of breadboards. Keep reading.

  • tutorial
  • breadboard
  • beginner-friendly
  • power supply
  • jumper wires
  • Dupont wires

Make an LED blink: your first simple PIC microcontroller project!

April 26, 2019 tutorial

In the last two weeks I described how to write your first PIC microcontroller program and how to flash it on to the controller. In this week's post, we will describe the accompanying electronics. Don't worry, it is not very complicated, we will get there! Keep reading.

  • tutorial
  • LED
  • beginner-friendly
  • breadboard
  • schematics
  • troubleshooting
  • microcontroller

Your first microcontroller program!

April 19, 2019 tutorial

So last week I showed you how you can transfer a hex file onto a PIC microcontroller using the PICkit3 and the MPLAB IPE X software. For this week's post I think it will be nice to go through a very simple program that makes an LED blink. Keep reading.

  • tutorial
  • beginner-friendly
  • microcontroller
  • XC8 compiler
  • .hex-file

How to “flash” a PIC microcontroller?

April 12, 2019 tutorial

Many interesting online electronics projects make use of microcontrollers, and for the beginner this tends to be a pretty intimidating word. At least it was for me when I started with hobby electronics many years ago. But there is really no reason you should be afraid of this topic. It is a bit involved, sure, but you will be amazed how fast you can make progress when you shake off that initial fear. Keep reading.

  • tutorial
  • beginner-friendly
  • microcontroller
  • PICkit3
  • .hex-file

LEDs 101 – what do you need to know?

March 29, 2019 tutorial

LEDs, or Light Emitting Diodes, are everywhere. Your smartphone? Check. Your microwave? Check. Your electric toothbrush? Check. In this article I want to present the basic ideas of how LEDs work and how you can use them in simple projects without having to rely on expensive after market solutions (such as wired LEDs with battery drivers that are expensive and often of questionable quality). Here we go! Keep reading.

  • LED basics
  • beginner-friendly
  • led resistor
  • current limiting
  • LM317 constant current source

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  • tutorial
  • beginner-friendly
  • microcontroller
  • XC8 compiler
  • .hex-file