How Do these work? What is the difference between microcontroller and microchip ( are they the same thing? )

Well I have been opening things like VHS, DVD players Computers and a lot of other things ( since my family is not the richest around we usually buy stuff second hand ) But even if we did get new stuff I would probably be the same. I am a curious kid by nature ( it must be a hundred times i heard the line curiosity killed the cat from teachers to even my family and friends ) Ok so to the question What are these microchips/controllers What ever they are. Like how could I use one if I would be able to get them out of the circuit? I heard they get programed to do something. How do i program one? Why do the circuit always so complicated?

Picture of How Do these work?
What is the difference between microcontroller and microchip ( are they the same thing? )
sort by: active | newest | oldest
keep tearing things apart, but stick to broken things or things you find others have thrown away so you don't get yelled at too much. I use to do the same thing except my parents use to call me 'input' from the movie 'short circuit' because I would always be asking how stuff works. You are on the right track to become an engineer or scientist. That's what they do.

Try switching over to taking apart toys, they are a lot more visually interesting with the switches and LED lights.

To help answer your question, microchips are literally miniature circuit boards, they have all the same components as you see on the rest of the board except 'integrated' into a small package like what you have pictured. Most of the chips you will find inside stuff are not really useful outside of where you find them, they do specific jobs and can't be reprogrammed, most don't even have a program, they are just a collection of resistors, transistors and capicators used to compare, or process a signal. For chips like the one in the first pictured (in a socket), you would typically use a chip puller which looks like a large tweezers with the tips bent inward. This grabs under each end of the chip and you pull it out. You can do the same thing with a small flat screwdriver, just try not to bend the legs too much.

A good place to start learning about electronics is 'Robot builders bonanza'


It does a good job explaining how different circuits work and a really good jot of how microcontrollers work (which are chips that you can program). I would suggest getting this book and a breadboard to start playing around with trying to light up LEDs and use switches. Tearing stuff apart is great, but learn the basics so you know what you are looking at.

Good luck
frollard8 years ago
Lots of questions there! Good learning experience! Those packages - the black plastic with metal pins protruding are referred to as 'integrated circuits'. They can range from passive components (like resistor arrays), simple circuits - darlington arrays, counters, registers, ...and get more complex. Memory (erasable programmable read-only memory, eprom), ram, converters, amplifiers, etc etc - all the way up to full 'computers' - microcontrollers. Some can be pulled from other circuits and repurposed. Depends on what they did before, and what you need in your circuits. Again, not all of them are advanced microcontrollers that you can simply reprogram to do your bidding :( Most have a part number stamped - 74htcxx, for example. Googling these part numbers sometimes tells you what they are, or look for the 'datasheet' for more information on what pins connect to what, how it runs, extra components needed, etc. How to program microcontrollers - is a whole new ballgame. They require converters to connect to the computer, which can change the stored memory - each one is different. Atmel and PIC are the most common for hobbyists - Arduino is a great environment to learn programming and using simple programmable hardware. For the most part - there are not a lot of reusable IC's in vcr's etc.
ex: I googled "sunplus sphe8200a"
its a dvd mpeg decoder chip - converts dvd's to ...tv signals

Your pic of a ram stick is old skool - with thru hole memory chips. You 'may' find a use for them, but its tough.
bug on fire (author)  frollard8 years ago
lol it shows you know what your talking about i did not even say it was a ram chip but you already knew about it Also the story to that ram chip is that the school was throwing out some computers and then i asked if I can get a screw driver and let me take out things from it lol I am so sad when i see pictures of land fills with things i might have taken apart
Well, computers etc can be recycled. Older ones have steel chassis - newer aluminium, or other metal - recycling takes (I cant quote) a significantly smaller amount of energy to reuse than to smelt from ore. The motherboard has a bunch of components - lots of plastic, ceramic, tin, and silicon among other things - some machines can separate these. The pcb itself is fiberglass with copper traces - both of these can be recycled. Copper is becoming more and more rare and expensive. From a hobbyist perspective theres lots of bits in a computer worth shaking a stick at: meters upon meters of wire, and ribbon cable. Motors from fans and drives (steppers and dc brushless). passive components galore if you can scavenge them (capacitors come to mind). The best project with motherboards: Use a heat gun to remove as many components as possible. Clear coat it to prevent lead poisoning, and make binder-covers out of the blank but still cool-looking circuit boards.
bug on fire (author)  frollard8 years ago
is a heat gun different to a solder i took apart a whole PC power source with solder iron filled a whole jar with anything to everything and tips on how to do it better a lot of my resistors were ruined because of the heat
a heat gun works like a hair dryer, but gets up to hundreds of degrees (like a cooking oven, or hotter). They're used for stripping paint, etc. They get hot enough to melt solder, so if you just want the board cleaned of parts (and dont care about the parts) cook the board gently with the gun, and everything will fall off :D