The PIC16F628A microcontroller has a built in Universal Synchronous Asynchronous Receiver Transmitter (USART) hardware that allows to communicate with a wide range of serial devices such as memory chips, LCDs, personal computers, etc. The USART module has two modes of operation: synchronous (requires a synchronized clock between the transmitter and receiver) and asynchronous (no synchronization clock required). As the asynchronous mode is more popular, we will focus today’s lab session on this and will establish a two way serial data link between the PIC microcontroller and a PC.
Serial communications are used in microcontroller-based systems, mostly due to the scarcity of available I/O pins. Besides for long distance communications, serial data transfer is more simple and cost effective as the required hardware connections in the data link can be reduced to three (Tx, Rx, and Gnd).