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Microcontrollers / Embedded Computers

A micro-controller is a credit card ( or smaller ) sized computer that is usually used without a keyboard, mouse or other general input/output device.

They were originally manufacture for use in embedded projects, but have since become vastly more widely popular with the create of the Arduino and Raspberry Pi maker computers.




Uses of Micro-controllers

Micro-controllers are mainly:

  • Embedded inside of other devices ( such as TVs, fridges, vacuum cleaners,etc) to turn them in to ‘smart’ devices.
  • Used by the maker community for hobby projects and prototyping.
  • Used within schools for educational purposes.
  • Used by scientists as field measurement platforms to monitor the weather, animal behavior or other environmental concerns.


  • Very small, allowing them to be embedded in other devices
  • Low power consumption makes the useful for battery / solar powered projects.
  • Cheap to produce, meaning they can be widely adopted.


  • Usually consist of low performance components, which means they have limited use as a general purpose PCs.
  • They often can only be used for their specific purpose and usually cannot be upgraded.