Today you don’t have to mess with wires in order to program and run microcontroller programs. There are so many tools that allow you to develop complete projects, simulate and debug them like they are real world examples. smainj in his French page has compiled ad nice collection of Proteus projects mostly for PIC microcontrollers.
His projects include positioneer, simple security system, data acquisition system with 16 analog and 16 digital inputs. But most exciting thing is that he publishes nice tutorials on how to set up embedded projects on Proteus Design Suite. Video projects include:
-Designing a Schema Using ISIS;
-Using mikroC compiler to Write a program for PIC16F;
-Converting circuit to PCB;
-Sending information from Computer to LCD Using virtual USART communication;
-Software development : VB.NET and setting simple COM port communications;
-Analogue simulation using PROSPICE;
-Simulating ASM programs;
-Viewing variable using Watch Window.
Despite language is French, but video tutorials are self explanatory.