Saturday, 1 October 2011

25. Need a clock? Take your PIC!

Having discovered PIC microcontrollers, I think I will use them quite a lot on this project. One use is as a clock. The smaller PICs have 4MHZ internal oscillators and the larger ones I think are 8MHz. One of the pins can be configured to be a CLKOUTand will send a signal 1/4 of the clock speed. This is effectively 1 pulse for every instruction. Using the internal oscillator of 4MHz this should give a 1MHz clock signal.

I'm using one my PIC16F505s for this, although a PIC12F508 would be (a) cheaper and (b) has less pins [update: and it doesn't externalize its clock]. We only need to connect up +5V and ground, plus the clock pin. On the PIC16F505 its pin 3 (RB4/OSC2/CLKOUT).

The code would look like this:
include "" ;
        __config _IntRC_OSC_CLKOUTEN
        org     000
loop    nop
        goto    loop

I tried it on the Z80. I think it works. I measured it on my small oscilloscope but I don't think its fast enough to keep up with the signal change. Instead I measured the signal on the A15 pin. I did get a signal but there was a lot of noise when the pin went low. Its 4.705Hz, so multiply this by 65536 (the Z80 is executing NOP and the PC will loop every 65536 instructions) and then by 4 (number of clock signals to execute NOP) should give the clock speed. It gives 1,233,387.52, just slightly over 1MHz. Peak voltage is 2.040V, low is 0.480V. At this resolution I am not sure these voltages are accurate. I checked the MREQ pin and this looks like its working but the voltage delta is 800mV. Is this enough to give a true high/low difference? I'm not sure at this stage.

There was a wierd effect after a few mins where the higher address pins such as A15 seemed to be static rather than blinking. I put a decoupling capacitor (don't ask me why I just guessed), on the PIC chip and that seems to have solved the issue. Its been running for over an hour now and seems to be ok.

Time to see what else these babies can do...

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