TINY TEMPERATURE RECORDER WITHOUT BATTERY Jingxi Zhang, Yang Zhang and Huifang Ni Introduction In our daily lives, the temperature of our environment is something that we frequently deal with—any time we check the weather, adjust the room climate control, check our body temperature, or store something in the refrigerator, we are gauging or controlling temperature. Temperatures usually vary over the time; for instance, a woman’s body temperature fluctuates during her menstrual cycle, and outdoor temperatures change dramatically between day and night, to say nothing of seasonal changes. Even in a well controlled environment, such as a refrigerator, the temperature could change from time to time. To record and analyze temperature changes over time can help us diagnose a patient’s sickness, to troubleshoot a computer system malfunction, or to adjust climate control to save energy and pollution. For a long time, building a tiny, low-cost temperature recorder, which can be dropped into my desktop computer chassis or attached to my body skin, has been a project I wanted to pursue. When I received my MSP340 starter kit, I immediately realized that the TI MSP340 is an ideal platform for my temperature recorder: it has a temperature sensor built in, and the 16-bit sigma-delta ADC can give me very high-resolution temperature measurements (< 0.02oC) without relying on any external component. Its low-power clock generator and 16-bit timer counter can wake up the CPU to sample the temperature. The runtime writable on-chip flash memory can store compressed temperature data. Best of all, as the MSP340 runs on very low power, I may not need the bulky battery for the processor. All I need is a tiny super capacitor—with an instant change, it could drive the processor for hours, even days! To maximally use the MSP430 MCU and the starter kit, my partners and I decided to use the USB controller on the starter kit to retrieve the recorded data sample to the host PC. Flash memory eraser 1.2V Ref Flash memory segment 3 Data Reader ADC Σ∆ mod Decimation Data compress Spy-Bi-Wire interface Host PC Temp sensor Timer ISR ADC ISR off DCO 1MHz on 16-bit timer Capacitor power supply Very Low power oscillator 12 KHz Figure 1. Temperature Recorder System Block Diagram Hardware Preparation Flow Component Data Software Control Hardware Temperature Recorder System The electric double layer (EDL) capacitor is the high capacitance super capacitor. We selected the Panasonic EN series (EEC-EN0F204RL, Digikey part # P11069CT-ND) for its compact size. The capacitor is rated 3.3 V, and the capacitance is 0.2 F, which is equal to 200,000 uF. There is only one diode and one resistor needed to add to the existing eZ430-F2013 starter kit board, besides the super capacitor (Schematic 1). The modification is simple: remove resistors R1 and R3 and solder a Schottky diode in place of R1 (be careful of the diode’s polarity). Solder the R3 resistor back to the board with one end of R3 connecting to the Schottky anode (Photo 1). Solder a 47-ohm resistor in serial with the diode to protect an instant high current when the discharged capacitor connects to the power supply (cut the trace on the back side of the board). We found the LED consumes a large amount of current even when it is not programmed in use. We had to remove R2 to lower the system power consumption. The last step is to solder the super capacitor to terminals P1 and P14 (positive and negative pins). 0.2F Capacitor R3 Diode 47 ohm resistor Photo 1. Modified eZ430-F2013 Development Kit 47 0.2 F GND Schematic 1. Modified (in red) MSP430F2013 target Schematic 2. JTAG/Spy-Bi-Wire Controller (From TI eZ430-F2013 User’s Guide) Schematic 3. USB Interface (From TI eZ430-F2013 User’s Guide) Software Implementation The software flowcharts are shown in Figures 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6. When the temperature recorder is powered on (when the super capacitor is discharged) or reset by the debugger, the CPU starts the initialization steps. It first disables the watchdog and modifies the pin10 (RST/MNI/SBWTDIO) function. Because the default setting of pin10 is for external reset, when the temperature recorder is unplugged from the host USB port, the voltage level at this pin drops to ground, and the device will be in the reset mode forever. To overcome this problem, the CPU changes the pin10 function to NMI (Non-Maskable Interrupt). The NMI interrupt is, however, not enabled (NMIIE bit in IE1 register is 0) so that the voltage level at pin10 does not affect the CPU under normal running conditions. Reset Disable watchdog and RST Configure clock module Configure ADC module Enable 16-bit ADC interrupt Enable 16-bit timer interrupt Hardware Initialization Get user input Get next available flash memory entry Input =’ r’ ? Yes Read data from flash No Input =’ e’ ? Yes No No Input =’ g’ ? Yes LPM3 Figure 1. Main Flowchart Erase flash memory Timer Interrupt Enable Temperature sensor Start ADC sampling Return to LPM1 Figure 2. Timer Interrupt Service Routine ADC Interrupt Get a 16-bit sample (current) predict = current - previous |predict|>127 ? Yes Escape one byte in flash memory (0xff left) No Predict -- Yes Predict<0 ? Store 2 bytes of current value to flash memory No Store lower byte of predict to flash memory Return to LPM3 Figure 3. ADC Interrupt Service Routine Read flash entry previous = 0 Read one byte from flash memory Is 0xFF ? No Read next byte from flash memory Is negative number? Is 0xFF ? Yes Yes Return No No Output value Read next byte from flash memory Output value No Max storage ? Yes Return Figure 4. Read Flash Memory Data Routine +1 Erase flash entry Save interrupt vectors Erase section 3 flash memory Restore interrupt vectors Return Figure 5. Erase Flash Memory Routine The DCO (Digital Controlled Oscillator) in the Basic Clock Module+ module is set to 1MHz for the main system clock (MCLK). When the device wakes up from low power mode, the CPU is driven by this clock. The internal Very Low Power, Low Frequency Oscillator (VLO) is enabled and set to ACLK to maintain the time clock when device is in low power mode. The 16-bit timer is set to Up Mode and is driven by the VLO. It wakes the CPU when it times out. Because the temperature change is usually a very slow event, the device samples the temperature in very long time intervals. By setting the value in the capture/compare register (TACCR0) of this timer, we can set the temperature sampling interval to, for example, 5 minutes. After initializing the hardware, the CPU is ready to run. It requests a command input from the standard IO. The MSP340 Development Kit provides a serial communication channel through the USB, and we can use it to send commands to the temperature recorder. In order to have the user enter the command, the temperature recorder has to be plugged into the PC host USB port. In the IAR IDE Terminal I/O window (Screenshot 1), the temperature recorder prompts the user to enter a command character: ‘g’, ‘r’, or ‘e’ for the go, read, and erase commands, respectively (if the Terminal I/O window is not shown, select “Terminal I/O Window” under the View menu). The go command is for recording temperature. When the CPU receives go command, it switches into low power mode 3 (LPM3). In this mode, the CPU and main system clock are shut down while the VLO is running. The device consumes very low current (about half of 1uA) in LPM3 mode. When the temperature recorder is plugged into the PC USB port, the super capacitor starts to charge. The capacitor charges very fast, taking about 3 minutes to fully charge. The temperature recorder is now ready to use. Unplug it from the USB port, and it starts to sample temperature. Command prompt Command input Screenshot 1. Commands entered at Terminal I/O Window. When the 16-bit timer times out, the timer interrupt wakes up the CPU. In the timer interrupt service routine, the internal temperature sensor and the 1.2V reference are enabled. The temperature sensor output is routed to the sigma-delta ADC. Because the sigma-delta ADC uses serial bit filtering, it takes time for the data sampling (depends on the over-sampling rate, OSR). Four samples are taken in one shot to let the digital filter output settle in response to the step change at input. However, it is not necessary have the CPU wait for sampling to finish. The MSP430 provides an ADC auto-shutdown feature to further conserve power during ADC sampling. Once the CPU sets up the temperature sensor and starts the ADC (one shot mode), it returns to sleep in low power mode 1 (LPM1). When the ADC finishes the temperature sampling and puts the 16-bit sampled data into the data register, it turns off the ADC and signals the CPU by an interrupt. The CPU then turns off the sensor and 1.2V reference and puts the sampled data into flash memory. The MSP430-F2013 microcontroller has four 512-byte segments of main flash memory for program storage. It also has four 64-byte segments of information flash memory for data storage. The first segment of the information flash memory (segment A) stores device calibration information from the manufacturer and is locked by default. The 3 other segments of information flash memory are available for the user. However, the total of 192 bytes of information flash memory is too small to keep a long period of recorded temperatures. Because the temperature recorder program code occupies only 3 segments of main flash memory, we decided to use the last 512-byte segment of main flash memory, segment 3, for temperature data storage. The last 32 bytes in segment 3 are preserved for interrupt vectors. We have to share this segment’s flash memory for both data and program interrupt vectors. The flash memory can only be erased for the entire segment. We have to recover the interrupt vectors in the temperature data erase routine. The sampled data is 16-bit in length. However, temperature changes slowly, and the data sampled can be predicted from the previous sampled data with small error. We decided to use prediction to compress the data from 16 bits to 8 bits and save flash memory storage space: if the different between the current temperature sample and the previous temperature sample is within ±127, we store the one-byte difference. If the difference is over the one-byte range, we store an escape character, 0xFF, and followed by the 16-bit sample data. Because we frequently only need to store a 1-byte difference, the flash memory can used very efficiently. The escape character, however, is same as the -1 in the prediction difference; we have to decrement the difference value by 1 if the difference is negative to avoid conflicting with the escape character. Because the flash memory locations are initialized with 0xFF, the end of recording can be easily detected when two consecutive 0xFF values are found. Although the current is greater when the CPU is activated for temperature sampling and flash memory writing than when it is in low power mode, the CPU spends very a very short amount of time in active mode when compared to the long intervals between samples. The temperature recorder’s average power consumption is very low, in 1uA range. The recording time can be calculated as follow: T = C (V1-V2) / i Where C is the capacitance of the super capacitor; V1 is capacitor’s fully charged voltage, which equals to the super capacitor rating voltage 3.3V; V2 is the minimal working voltage, which is equal to the MSP430 flash memory-required minimum voltage 2.2V; and i is the temperature recorder’s average current. In theory, the 0.2F capacitor can support the temperature for over 60 hours. In reality, the capacitor leaks current, and although this is a tiny amount, it can affect the actual recording period. Because the temperature data is stored in non-volatile flash memory, it can be recovered even after the super capacitor has drained. The recorded temperature data can be read using the Spy-Bi-Wire interface built into the development kit. Plug the temperature recorder to the PC USB port and launch the IAR IDE. Before connecting the IDE to the temperature, the debugger setting has to be set to attach to the running target (Screenshot 2). If not, the debugger erases the main flash memory and reloads the code, which could wipe out all recorded data. After the IDE connects to the temperature recorder, the program can be restarted by clicking the reset button on the toolbar (stop the debugger if the program is running) and re-run the program. To log the temperature data output to a file, the Terminal I/O log has to be set (Screenshots 3 and 4). In response to the command prompt, type an ‘r’ to read temperature data from flash memory. The program jumps to the routine to start reading data from flash memory. Each data read is first compared with the escape character; if this not an escape character, the data must be a difference value predicted from the previous temperature data. The data is added to the previous temperature (add 1 if it is a negative number) to recover the original 16-bit data and output to the standard output channel. If current data is an escape character, the next data value is evaluated. In the case of 2 consecutive escape characters, the data record has hit the end of the records and the routine returns. Otherwise, the 16-bit data from the 2 bytes following the escape character are sent to the output channel (Screenshot 5). The data output in the log file can be converted to temperature and plot on the Excel spreadsheet. To prepare a new temperature recording session, the flash memory segment 3 must be erased (command ‘e’). The flash memory routine is simple: save the interrupt vectors, erase the entire segment of flash memory, and restore the interrupt vectors back. The MSP430 flash memory program/erase endurance is 100,000 cycles. The temperature recorder is thus guaranteed for repeated use for over 274 years if the flash memory is erased every day. Check this option to keep the temperature data in flash memory Screenshot 2. Attach to running target in project option dialog Set Terminal I/O log file Screenshot 3. Menu to set terminal I/O log file Screenshot 4. Set file for terminal I/O log Indicating the log file is set Recovered temperature data in output terminal Recorded temperature data stored in Flash memory (start at segment 3). Figure 5. Temperature data are sent to log file from the flash memory Use Temperature Recorder The temperature recorder is easy to use. The entire USB device can be used to record temperature (Photo 2) or the target board can be used separately (Photo 3). Because the target board, with the super capacitor, is very tiny, it can easily be attached to a person’s body to measure the body temperature (Photo 4). Photo 4. Temperature recorder device can be detached from USB adaptor Figure 7 is the 24-hour plot of a refrigerator. The temperature fluctuation (condenser on and off) is controlled in a range of 1oC. Figure 7. Temperature record of a refrigerator Figure 8 is a demonstration of the tiny temperature recorder attached to skin by a medical bandage to monitor body temperature. Figure 8. Temperature recorder attached to skin.
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