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When a microcontroller loads or stores data, it requires power to change the state of the register's latches. The power consumed to load a 0xDD will be different than that to load a 0x0. A 0xDD 0b11011101 has six 1's and two 0's.
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The way microcontrollers store temporary data, means we'll see a different draw for a write of 0xDD and a than that of 0x00. Depending on the design of the microcontroller, we may see a draw or a drop of power usage, but it will be fairly consistent. You'll see this count of one's as the number's Hamming Weight in references. For instance 0xDD would have a Hamming Weight of six.
For my particular target, I found it easiest to create a host micro that converts a serial data stream to our target's i2c protocol. An Arduino or similar will work great for this abstraction layer application and it's highly recommended.
The easiest way to measure the current drawn is to place a small resistor between the VDD source and the target microcontroller. We then measure the voltage drop across the resistor and multiply it by the resistor value to get the current drawn.
What's nice about this setup, is we really don't care about the absolute value of current, just how it changes. Therefore, by measuring across this resistor, we are able to log the power drawn over time of the microcontroller. Hooking this up to an oscilloscope we are able to capture this information and relay it to a computer for processing.
A lot of you may heard about microcontrollers and its applications. Well it is a bit difficult to start learning microcontrollers. And the guides and tutorials also do not start from zero level which makes learning far more difficult than anticipated. I have tried to start from zero level in here also. All you need is the simplest knowledge of electronics or digital circuits. But you surely should have a decent knowledge of C language.
The software for programming Microchip microcontrollers comes by the name MPLAB IDE. MPLAB is the name of the software and IDE stands for Integrated Development Environment. IDE means that the software itself has all or most of the features that is needed. MPLAB IDE can perform the following operations :
Some things should be clear before starting the tutorial. We can write programs for the PIC microcontrollers in MPLAB but the syntax and code depends upon the library, which may be different from family to family and even a lot of libraries are available for the same family of microcontrollers too.
We are discussing about the Hi-Tech C Compiler library (HTC) for MPLAB in this tutorial. It is used for programming the microcontrollers of series 16F which will be enough for the beginner users. Now if you want to have very high performance applications through microcontrollers then you need to go to higher and more powerful family of microcontrollers like 18F, 24F series and for them the programming library is different. But as the 16F series microcontrollers are 8 bit and support clock rates up to 20 MHz, they are useful in most of our non-commercial applications.
Next step is writing the program. All the information about writing programs which include its commands, operations and the microcontroller registers are available on the datasheet and Hi-Tech Toolsuite guide. But I will also try to make you understand the first steps so that the datasheet and guide may prove useful. You can start making your own programs at the end of this tutorial.Now let us view a program for 16F877A where 8 LED are connected at the PORT B (8 pins of port B, from pin no 33-40). This programs blinks the LEDs which means the LEDs remain on for a second and off for another second.
This is the core style of writing the microcontroller program. As you can see, the style is completely similar to that of the normal C programs. Just some additional keywords here. Remember that all the syntax and mathematical and logical operations supported by stdio and conio libraries are accepted here in htc library with some additional ones also.
So you can now understand why the LEDs connected to the port B will blink. For half a second, 5V or logic 1 is coming from port B and for the other half 0V or logic 0 is coming. See how easy it is to do anything using a microcontroller!
This was just a basic demonstration. In the same manner, there are registers for numerous operations in the microcontroller. You have to set the register and provide some command and it will be carried out. PIC 16F877A also has general purpose resisters and RAM so you can even use a lot of variables and constants. It supports floating point arithmetic and ASCII values also. Programming in Hi-Tech C is just like programming in any other C compiler with some additional commands.
8MHz crystal is used to provide the required clock for the PIC 16F877A microcontroller. 22pF capacitors are used to stabilize the oscillation of the crystal. The first pin of the microcontroller (MCLR) is the Reset pin (stands for Memory Clear) which is tied to Vdd since it is an active low input. LEDs are connected to PORTB via 470Ω resistors to limit current through them.