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Microcontrollers are small chips which contain a processor and can be programmed in order to execute custom code.
Microcontrollers usually provide a wide range of Input/Output possibilities and protocols which you can use to control different kinds of sensors and/or actuators.

In case you are planning an electronics project, but are not very familiar with programming, there are different projects which can be used without the need of writing a single line of code.

A lot of Microcontrollers can be purchased on so called development boards. These boards usually provide easy access to the I/O Pins of the microcontroller and include circuits for power supply (so that the board can be powered using USB) as well as a USB serial converter for communication with the microcontroller.
Most of these boards are software-compatible with the Arduino platform.

There are various development environments to develop code for microcontrollers. The most commonly used ones in the CoMakingSpace are:

If you are interested in example projects, please find the following list:

Further Links