Electronics in Installations 2 - Microcontrollers

The School of Visual Arts, NYC
SPRING 2004 - COURSE # SCD-3202-A
JEWELRY ROOM 13C basement W.21st
CLASS TIMES: Wednesday 12-2:50 pm
01/14/04 - 04/28/04

Prof: Jason Ditmars
email: jditmars@jditmars.net

In this class you will learn to construct electronics projects that can control installation artworks.  Having mastered the techniques of basic electronics, you are now ready to take the next step -- Microcontrollers!  These tiny computers can become the stand alone, hidden brains of your kinetic sculptures, or the link between home-spun electronics and a PC or Mac workstation.  Programmable in various high-level languages, these microcontrollers could become the most powerful art-making tool in your arsenal.

We will focus on the Microchip PIC 16F84 ($6 from Jameco) and the PIC 16F877 ($10).  The PIC chip is one of a large family of fast and inexpensive microcontrollers that is highly documented on the web. The 16F84 has 13 I/O lines and 1k of EEPROM (Electronically-Erasable Programmable Read-Only-Memory).  It can be programmed, or burned, with hardware as cheap as $14. There are free or cheap compilers for this chip in multiple languages: C, BASIC, and Assembly. The architecture of the PIC 16F84 is almost identical to the PIC 16F877 that has expanded I/O, memory, and speed. In this class we will learn some Assembly Language, but mostly focus on simple C. No previous programming experience is necessary. Once the program is in either of these chips, it can be disconnected from the PC, and become a less-than-2-inch wide brain for your sculptures or installations.

Although the lab has been outfitted with a set of tools and many electronics components, you will be required to purchase your own set of tools, as well as many electronic components that you use.  These can be ordered from one of the various catalogs that are in the lab or one the websites listed below.  Students are encouraged to collaborate their orders to save money on postage and handling.


You will be graded primarily on the quality of your completed projects.  I will give you a letter grade on 2 projects (a midterm and a final) that will be determined by these factors:  how well it works, how well it was designed, how well it was constructed, how well you are mastering the techniques, and promptness.  On the final project, concept as an artwork will also factor in to your grade.  Projects that are completed late will lose one fraction of a grade per week (for example, a B+ project turned in one week late will be given a B).  Other factors in your final grade include attendance, participation, homework, and the completion of programming and construction exercises .  There may be pop quizzes (be warned!).


·         Electronics for Installations 2 - Microcontrollers Coursebook (~170 pages)

This is a collection of instructional and reference hand-outs that will be compiled into one spiral-bound coursebook.  I will be producing these coursebooks at Kinko's and selling them during the second week of class.  Each student should bring $20 next week!!


Microchip  http://www.microchip.com  
Motorola  http://www.motorola.com
Parallax  http://www.parallaxinc.com/
PIC MicroWeb http://www.workingtex.com/htpic/
Amazon Electronics http://www.electronics123.com/amazon/default.htm
Hi-Tech Software http://www.htsoft.com/
Microcontrollers Links http://www.epanorama.net/links/microprocessor.html
Mr. ROBOT  http://www.mrrobot.com

Electronics Links and Resources http://www.bc1.com/users/sgl/html/jo4.htm
US Electronics    http://www.us-electronics.com
All Electronics http://www.allelectronics.com
InfoArts link (art and artists)  http://userwww.sfsu.edu/~infoarts/links/wilson.artlinks2.html


  •          Easy PIC'n, PIC'n Techniques, PIC'n Up the Pace; By David Benson, Square 1 Electronics
  •          Programming & Customizing PICmicros 2nd Edition; By Myke Predko, McGraw-Hill
  •          Design with PIC Microcontrollers; John Peatman, Prentice Hall
  •          Basic Electronics Theory; By Delton T. Horn;
  •          Beginning Electronics Through Projects; By Andrew Singmin
  •          TTL Cookbook,; By Donald E. Lancaster, Don Lancaster
  •          Electronic Circuit Guidebook : Sensors; By Joseph J. Carr, Joe Carr
  •          The Art of Electronics; By Paul Horowitz, Winfield Hill


Jameco 800-831-4242
JDR Microdevices (CGN board) 800-538-5000
Digikey 800-DIG-IKEY
American Science and Surplus 847-982-0870


Week 1: Introduction, comparisons between different chips

Weeks 2-6: Lectures on the internal workings of the PIC 16F84; Construction of a micocontroller; Programming exercises (simple pulse, shift, loop, array, bit operations, etc.)

Week 7: Midterm project due.

Week 8: Final project proposal due

Weeks 9-12: Design and construction of final project.

Week 13: Final project should be near completion, debugging

Weeks 14-15: Final project due, critiques.