Microcontrollers are ubiquitous in the modern world. They are found in common household devices at one end and in industrial and laboratory automation and satellite control systems at the other. Sensors are now available to detect and convert almost any physical quantity into an electrical signal. Processing these signals and using them to control other instruments is the basis of modern instrumentation. The ability to do this is an essential part of a physicist’s repertoire. This course introduces students to the use of microcontrollers to creatively solve data acquisition and control problems in real world situations.
The course is centered around the Arduino board. It is a “hands-on” laboratory course with a functional introduction to the characteristics of the transducers used. Topics covered include the input and output of digital and analog signals, serial communication and alphanumeric displays. Sensors for detecting gases, motion, light and sound are used. The execution of an automation project is a significant part of this course.
The programming language, C++, is taught as a part of the course to the necessary level.