Application Note: Arduino Due Timer Control

Application Note - Arduino Due Timer ControlThe Arduino platform is not only the ideal solution for the hobbyist, due to the low price and ease of programming; it is also a great tool for professionals who are looking for quick prototyping.

This application note will address the very specific topic of timer control for the Arduino Due.

The Arduino platform does provide library functions dedicated to timers, and they cover all Arduino boards, including the Arduino Due. However, the Due takes up a special position in the Arduino product line of processors.

It is, after all, the first ARM-based Arduino development board, which accounts for special considerations compared to the standard, ATmega-driven boards. The ARM Cortex-M3 processor’s versatility opens the door to more sophisticated applications, and that includes timer programming.

A timer is a clock that controls the sequence of an event while counting in fixed intervals of time. A timer is used for producing precise time delay. Secondly, it can be used to repeat or initiate an action after/at a known period of time.

Most processors have timers incorporated on the chip. They not only generate time delays but they can also be used as counters.

Source: EngineersGarage –

This definition of timers is important because this document is not about timekeeping, i.e. the management of date and time of the day.

The application of timers can be as simple as a blinking LED or as complex as detecting an interruption in a serial data communication.

The following image demonstrates an example of timing a serial transmission between two nodes.

As is demonstrated in the picture, the message frequency will be between 50 to 200 msec.

A timeout will occur when a time of greater than 750 milliseconds elapsed between two message packets when more packets were expected. A timeout will cause a connection closure.

A connection is considered closed when:

  1. The sender of a data message sends the last Data Transfer package.
  2. A timeout occurs.

Not all applications will be as complex, but this example demonstrates how important it is to have a set of timer functions that integrate easily without the need for a major learning curve. My timer library includes functions to initialize, load, start and stop a timer as well as checking the timer count and status.

As I mentioned previously, the Arduino platform already provides library functions dedicated to timers, and there are more samples available through the Arduino Playground. However, my focus was not only on increased precision but also adaptability to other hardware platforms, e.g. using the same concept on an NXP LPC17xx processor.

Last, but not least, the following assumes some basic knowledge of embedded programming with the Arduino platform. Should that not be the case, please refer to the literature appendix, especially the books written by Simon Monk. Be assured that the learning curve is minimal.

My point is, I will not engage in repeating topics that have already been covered extensively by others, but I will reference resources where necessary.

This is a work in progress.

Table of Content

  • The Arduino Due
    • The ARM Cortex-M3 Processor
    • System Description
    • The Arduino Due
  • Timer Control
    • Delay Functions
    • Elapsed Time Functions
      • micros() Resolution Using the Arduino Due
    • Arduino Playground – Timer Sample Code
    • Arduino Due Interrupt-Driven Timer Control
      • Interrupt-Driven Timer Control Sample
      • Timer Control Sample C/C++ Code
  • Download the Code Sample
  • Recommended Literature

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