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A few questions about computer applications and microprocessors

  1. Jun 6, 2008 #1
    Hey everyone,

    I have a few questions concerning computers, I know a significant amount of electronics but not so much on the computer end...

    say I wanted the simple application of controling a light (an LED for example) with my computer - what's the easiest way to wire-in or attach the light?

    Something else that I was wondering about, are there PICs (or something similiar) that allow you to put Linux (or heaven forbid... Windows) on a microcontroller?
    The reason being, if you wanted to use software on the microcontroller that already existed on one of the two platforms.

    I'll start with those 2 :) Thanks in advance.
  2. jcsd
  3. Jun 9, 2008 #2
    I think there are various x86 single board computers that will run Linux or, heaven forfend, Windoze(tm), should you be mad enough to want it.

    I'm sure there must be systems that will run WinCE....

    As to controlling the light, the easiest method used to be the parallel port... but that was before the joys of WinNT etc. which tend to prevent you playing directly with the hardware.
  4. Jun 9, 2008 #3


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    Staff: Mentor

    One good way to do IO directly with a PC is via the USB port. Parallel ports are not generally available on laptops, and are even getting scarce on desktop PCs. But USB ports are still popular, and you can get to them via standard drivers, etc.

    You can google usb io, and get lots of hits like this one:

  5. Jun 15, 2008 #4
    Not sure what your actually trying to do, but using a PC to just control some L.E.Ds seems overkill, not that it can't be done.

    In addition to the ports mentioned have a look also at the classical Serial port (RS232),

    now in terms of having a full blown OS (eg Linux or Windows) on a microcontroller (I've never come across it, I don't think its even possible, you need a full comptuer architecture, not the limited hardware offered by microcontrollers)

    saying that have a look at PSoC (by Cypress), this thing is like a customisable system on a chip! people have made everything with this from bluetooth devices to radios etc:


    and its easy to program! (have a look at their "express" software, no complex PIC assembly at all)
    Last edited: Jun 15, 2008
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