MECH ENG 7072 - Micro-Controller Programming

North Terrace Campus - Semester 2 - 2024

The focus of this course is on the programming and use of micro-controllers in mechatronics applications. Assuming basic knowledge of the C programming language, the material is presented in a combination of lectures, tutorials and hands-on laboratory sessions. The build process of microcontroller software is examined in detail thereby providing the language of understanding compiler handbooks, on-line publications and micro-controller datasheets. The new skills are then applied in a number of practical case studies covering typical mechatronics applications including servo-mechanisms, sensor interfacing, real-time issues and inter-platform communications. Emphasis will be laid on the confident use of the C programming language using a variety of programming environments. Fault finding techniques will be introduced, ranging from low-level in-circuit debugging to source-level debugging on simulators and evaluation boards. Small-group projects and case studies will be used to provide important hands-on experience with micro-controller based projects.

  • General Course Information
    Course Details
    Course Code MECH ENG 7072
    Course Micro-Controller Programming
    Coordinating Unit Mechanical Engineering
    Term Semester 2
    Level Postgraduate Coursework
    Location/s North Terrace Campus
    Units 3
    Contact Up to 4 hours per week
    Available for Study Abroad and Exchange N
    Incompatible MECH ENG 3032
    Assumed Knowledge ENG 1002
    Restrictions Available to Masters Mechatronic, Graduate Diploma Mechatronic students and Masters of Marine Engineering only
    Assessment Assignments
    Course Staff

    Course Coordinator: Dr William Robertson

    Course Timetable

    The full timetable of all activities for this course can be accessed from Course Planner.

  • Learning Outcomes
    Course Learning Outcomes
    On successful completion of this course students will be able to:

    1 Analyse the needs of mechatronic applications and design appropriate micro-controller based solutions;
    2 Apply the hardware units within a modern micro-controller;
    3 Create micro-controller based applications through appropriate use of software tools;
    4 Interface external devices to a micro-controller;

    The above course learning outcomes are aligned with the Engineers Australia Entry to Practice Competency Standard for the Professional Engineer. The course develops the following EA Elements of Competency to levels of introductory (A), intermediate (B), advanced (C):  

    C C B A C B C B B C B C C C C
    University Graduate Attributes

    This course will provide students with an opportunity to develop the Graduate Attribute(s) specified below:

    University Graduate Attribute Course Learning Outcome(s)

    Attribute 1: Deep discipline knowledge and intellectual breadth

    Graduates have comprehensive knowledge and understanding of their subject area, the ability to engage with different traditions of thought, and the ability to apply their knowledge in practice including in multi-disciplinary or multi-professional contexts.


    Attribute 2: Creative and critical thinking, and problem solving

    Graduates are effective problems-solvers, able to apply critical, creative and evidence-based thinking to conceive innovative responses to future challenges.

    1, 3, 4

    Attribute 3: Teamwork and communication skills

    Graduates convey ideas and information effectively to a range of audiences for a variety of purposes and contribute in a positive and collaborative manner to achieving common goals.

    1, 3, 4

    Attribute 4: Professionalism and leadership readiness

    Graduates engage in professional behaviour and have the potential to be entrepreneurial and take leadership roles in their chosen occupations or careers and communities.

    1, 3, 4

    Attribute 5: Intercultural and ethical competency

    Graduates are responsible and effective global citizens whose personal values and practices are consistent with their roles as responsible members of society.


    Attribute 8: Self-awareness and emotional intelligence

    Graduates are self-aware and reflective; they are flexible and resilient and have the capacity to accept and give constructive feedback; they act with integrity and take responsibility for their actions.

  • Learning Resources
    Required Resources

    Lecture Notes provided

    Recommended Resources

    Qing Li, Caroline Yao, Real-Time Concepts for Embedded Systems, CMP Books, New York, 2003, ISBN 1-57820-124-1

    Thomas Bräunl, Embedded Robotics, Mobile Robot Design and Applications with Embedded Systems, Springer, Berlin, 2003, ISBN 3-540-03436-6

    Online Learning
    Jonathan W. Valvano, Developing Embedded Software in C Using ICC11/ICC12/Metrowerks, online book, [last accessed: 10/01/2006]
  • Learning & Teaching Activities
    Learning & Teaching Modes

    The course takes a flexible approach to teaching and learning with material delivered, concepts explored and skills developed using a range of techniques. A flipped model is utilised with interactive sessions used for presentation of material, exploration of concepts and discussion of directed reading. A series of quizzes are used to establish existing knowledge and the assimilation of taught concepts.

    Laboratories are centred upon project based learning with case studies used to provide hands-on experience.


    The information below is provided as a guide to assist students in engaging appropriately with the course requirements.

    Indicative workload is 13 hours per week

    Activity Hours
    Interactive lecture sessions 12
    Online activities 24
    Laboratories (optional) 6
    Self study 56
    Directed reading 12
    Assignments 45
    Learning Activities Summary
    Introduction [1 week]
    • Definition of embedded systems
    • Application examples
    • Common micro-controller tasks
    • Typical hardware units within a micro-controller
    • Software development cycle
    • Programming languages for micro-controllers (C, C++, Java)
    • Target Platform: Wytec Dragon12
    • Software IDE: Keil C166, Metrowerks CodeWarrior, GNU gcc

    The build process, fundamentals [1 week]
    • Compiler, assembler, linker
    • Compiler and linker options
    • Keil C166 projects
    • Source level debugging using a micro-controller simulator
    • Debugging using a target monitor
    • Macro definitions, configuration registers and stack frames
    • Memory models and memory maps
    • Memory type specifiers
    • Object classes and storage class

    Micro-controller interfacing [2 weeks]
    • Address, data and control busses
    • Serial, parallel, DMA techniques
    • Interrupts and polling
    • Timing
    • Digital I/O
    • A/D converter
    • Serial communications
    • PWM unit
    • Object classes and storage class

    The build process, advanced concepts [2 weeks]
    • Sections, modules, programs
    • The linker
    • Interpreting the assembler listing
    • Interpreting the linker map file
    • Near data and far data
    • Library files
    • Development utilities
    • Objects file formats: ELF, COFF, DWARF-1/2, S-Records, Intel HEX
    • Optimisation

    Interfacing to Mechatronic Devices [3 weeks]
    • Intelligent instrumentation
    • Transducers
    • Signal processing
    • Motion control
    • Power circuitry

    Embedded control applications [3 weeks]
    • Servo-motor control
    • Stepper motor control
    • Real-time data logger (menu driven, RS-232, communications, adjustable sample rate)
    Specific Course Requirements


  • Assessment

    The University's policy on Assessment for Coursework Programs is based on the following four principles:

    1. Assessment must encourage and reinforce learning.
    2. Assessment must enable robust and fair judgements about student performance.
    3. Assessment practices must be fair and equitable to students and give them the opportunity to demonstrate what they have learned.
    4. Assessment must maintain academic standards.

    Assessment Summary
    Assessment Task Weighting (%) Individual/ Group Formative/ Summative
    Due (week)*
    Hurdle criteria Learning outcomes
    Online Quizzes 5 Individual Formative/Summative Weeks 1-8 2. 4.
    Lab Completion 10 Group Formative/Summative Weeks 1-8 1. 2. 3. 4.
    Assignment 1: Mini project 10 Individual Summative Week 5 1. 2. 3.
    Assignment 2: Project 20 Individual Summative Week 9 1. 2. 3. 4.
    Assignment 3: Project 25 Group Summative Week 12 1. 2. 3. 4.
    Assignment 4: Research project 10 Individual Summative Week 13 1.
    In-Class Quizzes 20 Individual Summative Weeks 9 & 12 1. 2. 3. 4.
    Total 100
    * The specific due date for each assessment task will be available on MyUni.
    This assessment breakdown complies with the University's Assessment for Coursework Programs Policy.
    Assessment Related Requirements


    Assessment Detail
    Assignments 65%

    Requires the design, implementation, and testing of programs for microcontroller based systems. All assignments require submission of documentation (engineering report/flowchart/design specfication) and C code within an IDE.

    Assignment 1 (10%): Design, implement, and test a simple digital controller using similation tools. A digital input driven controller with basic logic. Assessment outcome is a refresher on C coding and an introduction to the design process. Feedback provided as precurser for Assignment 2.

    Assignment 2 (20%): Design, implement, and test a complex program using similation tools. Both digital and analogue inputs used for logic and engineering calculations. Configuration of peripherals such as: Timers, ADC, PWM, and/or UART. Assessment outcome is proficiency to develop a program in lieu of hardware, understanding control flow, control structures, and debugging tools.

    Assignment 3 (25%): Design, implement, and test a complex program using hardware. Digital, analogue, and serial inputs used for control of a robot. Provides important hands-on experience with wiring, calibration of sensors, and linking changes in code directly to a physical action.

    Assignment 4 (10%): Research report on a topical development in microcontroller based systems. This will provided an appreciation of the pace of change in microcontroller technologies and an understanding of the current state of the art.

    In-Class Quizzes 20%

    Two quizzes (10% each) held within the workshop sessions, designed to test basic knowledge from the lecture content.

    Lab Completion 10%

    Weekly laboratory sessions using hardware, following a guided handout. Tutors are present to assist. The laboratory sessions cover: setting up an IDE project, connecting hardware, digital inputs/outputs, analogue inputs, driving a stepper motor, interfacing with another microcontroller, finite state machines, controlling a robot.

    Online Quizzes 5%

    Weekly quizzes in MyUni designed to check understanding of the lecture content and practice for the in-class quiz.

    Fully commented source code and associated assignment documentation must be submitted through myUni. Late submissions are subject to a penalty of 10% per working day. Re-submissions are not allowed except under extenuating circumstances. Assignments will normally be returned within 2 working weeks.

    Course Grading

    Grades for your performance in this course will be awarded in accordance with the following scheme:

    M10 (Coursework Mark Scheme)
    Grade Mark Description
    FNS   Fail No Submission
    F 1-49 Fail
    P 50-64 Pass
    C 65-74 Credit
    D 75-84 Distinction
    HD 85-100 High Distinction
    CN   Continuing
    NFE   No Formal Examination
    RP   Result Pending

    Further details of the grades/results can be obtained from Examinations.

    Grade Descriptors are available which provide a general guide to the standard of work that is expected at each grade level. More information at Assessment for Coursework Programs.

    Final results for this course will be made available through Access Adelaide.

  • Student Feedback

    The University places a high priority on approaches to learning and teaching that enhance the student experience. Feedback is sought from students in a variety of ways including on-going engagement with staff, the use of online discussion boards and the use of Student Experience of Learning and Teaching (SELT) surveys as well as GOS surveys and Program reviews.

    SELTs are an important source of information to inform individual teaching practice, decisions about teaching duties, and course and program curriculum design. They enable the University to assess how effectively its learning environments and teaching practices facilitate student engagement and learning outcomes. Under the current SELT Policy ( course SELTs are mandated and must be conducted at the conclusion of each term/semester/trimester for every course offering. Feedback on issues raised through course SELT surveys is made available to enrolled students through various resources (e.g. MyUni). In addition aggregated course SELT data is available.

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  • Policies & Guidelines
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