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Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Computers 101

I'm taking a little hiatus from the epic how to build your own robot series for a few reasons.

Firstly, there is a LOT to cover. I'm writing this as a sort of trial run for how I might explain it to first year university students, and as we all know - firsties are only marginally more intelligent than the rats they experiment on. With so many topics to cover, I'm faced with either giving 10 second "just take my word for it" style advice, or deviating from the topic every paragraph to explain the reasoning behind the statements I've just made.

The other problem is that it isn't fun to read. It's very technically dense and wordy, and I feel that if I can't hold the reader's interest then there isn't much point in me spending all this time explaining it. After writing the how to choose servos article, I really felt that I should have introduced it with an earlier article about exactly how they worked and what they were used for.

So to remedy this, I've decided to take a different approach to the rest of the series. Before I start spouting off about software and microcontrollers and interrupts, I'm going to give you some background on the subject in general – just so that everyone is up to speed when I use terms like instruction set, word size or stack overflow.

What's more, to keep things interesting the lessons will take place in funky 8-bit comic style! Enjoy!

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