Use fixed integer types to enhance portability

If you have programmed anything with C you should be familiar with common data types like char, unsigned char, int, unsigned int, long int, long long int, etc. It is really hard to tell by looks of type how many bytes this variable takes on memory and how it looks in different system. For instance in 8-bit AVR-GCC compiler int is 16-bit type, while in ARM-GCC int is 32-bit. So int size is dependent on platform, compiler and runtime libraries. And switching between systems may trick you if you are not careful enough. You can always check the size of variable by using sizeof() function. What to do if you need your code to be portable between different systems. Some great libraries could work on any system including 8-bit, 16-bit, … Continue reading

Using Volatile keyword in embedded code

Volatile is probably least documented keyword in most tutorials and books. Probably this is main cause of most misuses and bugs related to it. If you already are programming microcontrollers, you probably know that volatile is always used on global variables that are accessed from interrupt service routines. Otherwise code won’t work. After few requests I decided to drop few lines about volatile keyword. This keyword is commonly used to tag memory type. We hear “volatile memory”, “non-volatile memory” when talking about computer hardware. As quick reminder – “non-volatile memory” is type of memory that stores its contents even when power is off. Such type of memory is EEPROM, Flash, FRAM. This is easy from hardware perspective. But what volatile keyword means in C or C++ code? This is an … Continue reading

Interfacing GPS Module with AVR

GPS modem is a device which receives signals from satellite and provides information about latitude, longitude, altitude, time etc. The GPS navigator is more famous in mobiles to track the road maps. The GPS modem has an antenna which receives the satellite signals and transfers them to the modem. The modem in turn converts the data into useful information and sends the output in serial RS232 logic level format. The information about latitude, longitude etc. is sent continuously and accompanied by an identifier string. The connection of GPS modem with AVR microcontrollers shown in the circuit diagram. The ground pin of max 232 and serial o/p of GPS modem is made common. Pin2 of MAX232 is connected to pin 3 of GPS modem and pin 3 of max 232 is connected to pin 2 of modem. This type of … Continue reading

Software Debouncing of buttons

Connecting a button as an input to a micro-controller is a relatively easy task, but there are some problems. The main problem is that buttons bounce, i.e. when you press (or release) a button it will often change level a couple of times before it settles at the new level. So if you, for example, connect the button to a pin with an external interrupt enabled, you will get several interrupts when you press the button once. This behavior is normally not wanted. Even if the button’s didn’t bounce (with filtering hardware for example) we still want to capture the event of a pushed button and take some action one time for every button press, so we need to keep track of the state of the button as well. One … Continue reading

Interfacing DC motor to Atmega32

In a past tutorial, we saw how to control a servo using AVR. This tutorial will aim at interfacing a DC geared motor with the ever popular ATMEGA series. For the sake of simplicity we will just learn a way to interface DC motor and not controlling it’s speed. DC Motors are small, inexpensive and powerful motors used widely in robotics for their small size and high energy out. A typical DC motor operates at speeds that are far too high speed to be useful, and torque that are far too low. Gear reduction is the standard method by which a motor is made useful .Gear’s reduce the speed of motor and increases the torque. Choosing a DC Motor depends upon the application.