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Topic: Ch-5: Organization and Programming of Timer/Counter of ATmega328 MCU (Read 1 time) previous topic - next topic


The notes presented here are subject to all kinds of modifications by the readers and initiator without any obligation whatsoever.

5.1  Organisation of Timer/Counter-1 Resource

(1)     In Chapter-1, we began learning the Arduino Kit by blinking a LED (L). The 1-sec time-gap between ON and OFF conditions of the LED was given by calling a 'Time Delay Subroutine, delay (1000)' of the Arduino IDE Interface.  Assume that the delay (1000) subroutine is not available, then how are we going to insert this time-gap? In this chapter, we will see that this time-gap and many other timing functions can be generated using the TC1 (Timer/Counter-1) resource of the ATmega328 MCU.

(2) The Conceptual View of the TC1 Resource is depicted below in Fig-5.1.

Figure-5.1: Conceptual view for the TC1 resources of the ATmega328 Microcontroller

(3) The TC1 (TCNT1) is a 16-bit register, and it is composed of two 8-bit registers. The lower 8-bit register is known as TCNT1L, and the upper 8-bit register is known as TCNT1H.

(4) The clocking pulse for the TCNT1 is named as clkTC1. It has two sources: the internal oscillator and the external pulses.

(5) When using the internal oscillator, the clkTC1 can be as low as 152.587890625 Hz, and it can be as high as 16 MHz. In Arduino UNO, the 'System Clock Prescaler' is programmed to pass 16 MHz; however, the division factor can be changed through program codes. The 'TC1 Clock Prescaler' division factor can also be changed using program codes.

(6) When the TC1 is configured to receive clocking (driving) pulses form the internal oscillator, we say that the TC1 is operating as T1 (Timer-1).

(7) When the TC1 is configured to receive clocking (driving) pulses form the external source via Pin-11 (T1), we say that the TC1 is operating as C1 (Counter-1). In the C1 mode of operation, there is no division factor; but, an option is available as to which edge (rising/falling) of the incoming pulse is to sense.

(8) The configuration as shown in Fig-5.1 depicts the normal mode of operation of TCNT1. In this mode, the TC1 works as an up-counter; it begins counting from all 0s (0000h) and reaches at the full count of all 1s (FFFFh). At the arrival of the next pulse, the TC1 rolls-over from all 1s to all 0s. This event is known as roll-over event or overflow event.

(9) Whenever a roll-over (overflow) occurs, the TOV1 (T1 Overflow Flag) of the MCU assumes LH-state. The user program may continuously poll this bit to know the exact time of the occurrence of a roll-over event.    

(10) The TC1 could be loaded with a known pre-set value. When the TC1 is started, it begins counting from the pres-set value. By changing the value of the pre-set parameter, we can vary the arrival timing of the roll-over event. This feature can be very well utilized to generate varying time delay functions.

(11) There is also another way of knowing the arrival of the roll-over event, and it is the interrupt method. When the switches I (Global Interrupt Enable Bit of SREG-Register) and TOIE1 (T1 Overflow Interrupt Enable) of Fig-5.1 are kept in closed conditions, the MCU is automatically interrupted by the roll-over event. The MCU goes to the interrupt subroutine (ISR) at location 001Ah, performs the assigned tasks and then goes back to the mainline program (the interrupted program).


5.2  Programming of Timer-1(T1) of ATmega328 to Generate 1-sec Time Delay

Figure-5.2: Circuit for the demonstration of 1-sec time delay using Timer-1(T1)

(1)  We need to make an arrangement so that the TOV1 flag assumes Logic-H state at every 1-sec interval. This requires that the T1 must count n-number of clock pulses in 1-sec and then triggers the roll-over event. Let us find the value of n.

(2)  We take (arbitrarily) division factor 1/1024 for the TC1 Clock Prescaler. This gives us: clkTC1 = 16 x 1o6 / 1024 = 15625 Hz. If the clkTC1 would turn out with a fractional value, we would go for another division factor and continue so until the clkTC1 would be an integer value. This is to avoid inaccuracy in the 1-sec time delay.

(3)  From the result of Step-2, we can conclude that the T1 will take 1-sec time to count 15625 clkTC1 pulses.   

(4)  Now, if T1 is allowed to count from 0000h, the roll-over will occur once it has finished counting FFFFh + 01h = 10000h (65536) clock pulses. The time delay would appear as: 4.194304-sec.

(5)  But, we have wanted that the roll-over must occur after 1-sec having finished the counting of 15625 pulses. Therefore, the T1 must start counting from a pre-set value (say, n1) so that n1 + 15625 = 65536. The value of pre-set parameter (n1) is 49911 (C2F7h), which we must load into TCNT1 before the T1 is put into operation.

(6)  Based on the analytical knowledge of Step-1 to 5, we may formulate the following algorithm for 1-sec time delay generation.
Code: [Select]

L1:   Initialize everything as needed
L1A: Initialize others as needed
       1. Timer-1 mode operation of TC1
       2. Choose 1/1024 division factor for TC1 Clock Prescaler
       3. Calculate pre-set value and load it into TCNT1 Register
       4. Clear TOV1 flag
       5. Ensure T1 is OFF
L1B: 6. Set direction of PB5-line as output
       6. Ensure OFF state of LED (L)
L1C: 7. Disable Interrupt Structure
       8. Start T1
L2:  if (TOV1 != HIGH)
      Goto L2 ; 1-sec has not elapsed
L3: ; 1-sec has elapsed
     1. Reset TOV1 flag
     2. Reload pre-set value (there is no auto re-loading in Atmega328 like 8051) into TCNT1
     3. Toggle the state of L (if the LED was ON before, make it OFF now and vice versa)
L4: Goto L2

(7)  Assembly Codes for Step-6 (Target MCU: ATmega32 MCU and not ATmega328; External LED is connected at PB0-line.)

(Assembly language Programming involves the manipulation of registers of the MCU as per instruction set.)
Code: [Select]

           .include      "m32def.inc"
           .org           0x0000
RESET:  nop
           rjmp 0x0040

           .org 0x0040 ; beginning o application space
START:  nop
L1:       ; initialize stack at 0x9000
           ldi r16, 0x09
           out sph, r16
           ldi r16, 0x00
           out spl, r16

L1A:     ldi r16, 0x00
           out TCCR1A, r16 ; Normal Up-counting Mode Operation of T1

           ldi r16, 0xF7
           out TCNT1L, r16
           ldi r16, 0xC2
           out TCNT1H, r16 ; pre-set value for 1-sec time delay is loaded into TCNT1

           in r16, TIFR1
           ori r16, 0x40
           out TIFR1, r16 ; TOV1 is cleared

           in r16, 0x00
           out TCCR1B, r16 ; T1 is OFF (Stop Condition)

L1B:     sbi DDRB, DDB0 ; PB0-line of ATmega32 is output
           cli PORTB, PB0 ; LED is OFF

L1C:     cli ; All interrupts are disabled
           ldi r16, 0x05
           out TCCR1B, r16 ; T1 is started with internal clock of clkSYS/1024 = 15625

L2:       in r16, TIFR1
           ror r16
           ror r16
           ror r16
           ror r16
           brcc L2 ; TOV1 is not LH; 1-sec has not elapsed

L3:       in r16, TIFR1
           ori r16, 0x40
           out TIFR1, r16 ; TOV1 flag is cleared by writing LH at TOV1 flag position

           ldi r16, 0xF7
           out TCNT1L, r16
           ldi r16, 0xC2
           out TCNT1H, r16 ; pre-set value for 1-sec time delay is loaded into TCNT1

           in r16, PORTB
           ldi r17, 0x01 ; 0000 0001
           eor r16, r17
           out PORTB, r16 ; Toggle LED via PB0-line of ATmega32

L4:       rjmp L2 ; wait for next 1-sec


(8) IO Registers involved in the Timer-1 Operation
(a) SREG: Status Register
(b) TCCR1A : TC1 Control Register - A
(c) TCCR1B : TC1 Control Register - B
(d) TCNT1H : TC1 High Byte
(e) TCNT1L : TC1 Low Byte
(f) TIFR1 : TC1 Interrupt Flag Register

P529 (9)  Arduino IDE Codes for Step-6/7
To the extent of my knowledge, the Arduino IDE is not rich in dealing with Timer-1 operation using High Level Commands like the way it deals with LCD. Therefore, in Arduino IDE, we will activate the operations of T1 by manipulating the MCU registers through assignment statements. 
Code: [Select]

void setup()
  TCCR1A = 0x00; //L1A: normal mode of operation for Timer-1
  TCCR1B = 0x00;   // T1 is made OFF via TCCR1B register
  TCNT1 = 0xC2F7; // preload for 1-sec Time Delay; Timer-1 clock = 15625 Hz
  pinMode (13, OUTPUT); // PB5 as output
  digitalWrite (13, LOW); // L is OFF
  cli(); // all interrupts of ATmega328 are disabled
  TCCR1B = 0x05; // T1 is started with internal clock = 16 MHz/1024 = 15625 Hz

void loop()
  while (bitRead(TIFR1, 2) != HIGH) // checking TOV1 flag for LH
  bitSet(TIFR1, 2); // TOV1 flag is cleared
  TCNT1 = 0xC2F7; // reloading the pre-set count

  digitalWrite(13, !(digitalRead(13))); // Toggle L


can we use timer0 and timer2 also for pulse counting if yes how, i am noobie so please guide me


1.  This is the internal structure (Fig-1) of TC0 Module. The TC0 has the ability to count pulses eithet from internal 16 MHz oscillator or external pulses via DPin-4. Follow the tutorial of the original post and program TC0 to count pulses for 1-sec time (for example).

Figure-1: Internal structure of TC0 Module of ATmega328P MCU

2.  This is the internal structure (Fig-2) of TC2 Module. The TC2 has the ability to count pulses only from internal 16 MHz oscillator. As the TC2 is not connected witj any pin of the MCU, it is unable to count external pulses. Follow the tutorial of the original post and program TC2 to count internal pulses for 1-sec time (for example) pulses.

Figure-2: Internal structure of TC0 Module of ATmega328P MCU

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