robotics and animatronics




Using a PIC Microcontroller to Control a Robot

The PIC familiy of chips offers robot builders a cheap way to control their robot. PIC microcontroller (MCU) chips made by Microchip, have 8-bit, 16-bit and 32-bit models. The 8-bit chips are very inexpensive, but offer the features needed for simple robotic control. Microchip offers the free MPLAB IDE development environment to support programming the PIC chips. PIC MCU's must be programmed in a seperate PIC programmer. The PICkit 2 and newer PICkit 3, also produced by Microchip, are the best available programmers on the market. There are cheaper clone programmers that may also work well, but before buying a clone PIC programmer, research their reliability.


When choosing a PIC chip to control a robot, several different features are needed. A robotic mobile platform requires control of a motor for movement. Typically either small geared DC motors or servo motors are used. There are PIC chips that are capable of controlling either. In addition, sensors are needed to manever the robot. PIC chips are also available which are capable of handling sensors. PIC chips provide internal memory for storage of programs that control the robot.