Low cost temperature data logger using PIC and Processing

This project describes an easy and inexpensive way of adding a digital thermometer and data logging feature to a PC. It involves a PIC microcontroller that gets the surrounding temperature information from the Microchip MCP9701 sensor, and sends it to a PC through an USB-UART interface. The USB port of the PC is also used to power the device. The open-source Processing  programming platform is used to develop a PC application that displays the temperature in a graphics window on the computer screen. The PC application also records the temperature samples plus date and time stamps on an ASCII file.

Low cost temperature data logger using PIC and Processing

PC-based temperature data logger

Theory of operation

This project is based on Microchip’s PIC12F1822 microcontroller from the enhanced mid-range PIC family. It has got 8-pins in total and the power supply voltage range of 1.8V to 5.5V. The microcontroller has four 10-bit ADC channels and one Enhanced Universal Synchronous Asynchronous Receiver Transmitter (EUSART) module for serial communication. The temperature sensor used here is MCP9701A, which is a Low-Power Linear Active Thermistor IC from Microchip Technology. The range of temperature measurement is from -40°C to +125°C. The output voltage of the sensor is directly proportional to the measured temperature and is calibrated to a slope of 19.53mV/°C. It has a DC offset of 400mV, which corresponds to 0°C. The offset allows reading negative temperatures without the need for a negative supply. The output of the sensor is fed to one of the ADC channels of the PIC12F1822 microcontroller for A/D conversion. The internal fixed voltage reference (FVR) module is configured to generate a stable 2.048 V reference voltage for A/D conversion. The use of FVR module ensures the accuracy of the A/D conversion even when the supply voltage is not stable. The PIC12F1822 microcontroller then serially transmits the 10-bit ADC output to a PC.

Modern PCs are no more equipped with serial ports and therefore this project requires a USB-UART adapter that enables very easy connection of the PIC12F1822 to the PC via the USB port. You can get them really cheap on ebay. I bought one for $3.39 (see the picture below) from here: http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&item=370532286388
It can be directly interfaced to the TTL input and output of EUSART module of PIC12F1822. This module also provides +5 V, +3.3 V, and ground terminals. The power supply for the microcontroller circuit is derived from the same +5 V and ground pins.

On PC’s side, the open source programming language Processing is used to receive the ADC output and convert it into the actual temperature. The temperature is displayed on a graphics window on the computer screen in numeric format as well as with a wall tube thermometer looking image where the level of alcohol rises with increasing temperature. A clickable Start/Stop button also appears on the window to enable or disable the data logging.

Circuit diagram

The circuit diagram of this project is pretty simple. The microcontroller reads the temperature sensor’s output through RA2/AN2 pin and convert it to a 10-bit digital number. The Tx (RA0) and Rx (RA1) port of the EUSART module are connected to the corresponding pins of the USB-UART module. The microcontroller runs at 4.0 MHz using an internal clock source. Although I have disabled the MCLR function here, you can use it for an external reset if you want.Schematic Low cost temperature data logger using PIC and ProcessingFor more detail: Low cost temperature data logger using PIC and Processing

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