PIC-based Digital Voltmeter (DVM)


This project will describe how to make a simple digital voltmeter (DVM) using a PIC16F688 microcontroller. The range of this DVM is 0-20V, but you can easily increase or decrease the range of input voltage as your requirements after you understand the voltage scaling method described in this project. The PIC micro reads the input voltage through one of the 8 analog channels and convert it to a 10-bit digital number using the internal ADC. Doing some math with ADC conversion (you will see later), this number can be converted to the actual measured voltage. The voltage is displayed in an HD44780-based character LCD.PIC-based Digital Voltmeter (DVM)

Circuit Diagram and Description

You cannot feed a 20V signal directly to a PIC microcontroller’s input channel. It is too higher than its operating voltage, and the microcontroller could be damaged. So, first we need a voltage scaler that will scale down the input voltage to the safe operating voltage range of PIC16F688. It can be achieved by a simple resistor divider network shown below.

Using two resistors, R1 and R2, the input voltage ranging from 0-20V can be down converted to 0-5V. For the chosen values of R1 and R2, you can see that the output (Va) from the resistor divider network is 1/4th of the input voltage. If the input voltage goes beyond 20V, Va will exceed 5V, and this could be harmful for the PIC microcontroller. If you connect a 5.1V Zener diode across the R1 resistor, the output voltage Va will never exceed 5.1V. This will protect the microcontroller from any possible damage due to high voltage input. The voltage Va will go to AN2 (pin 11) channel of the PIC16F688 microcontroller. The rest of the circuit is shown below.

The LCD display is connected in 4-bit mode. If you have just 14 pins in your LCD module, then you may not have a back-light facility and you can ignore the pins 15 and 16. The contrast adjustment is done through a 5K potentiometer connected between +5V and Gnd. An in-circuit serial programming (ICSP) header is provided so that you can easily upgrade the firmware inside the PIC microcontroller in future if you make any changes. An external reset is helpful to bring the entire system to a known initial condition, when the microcontroller stops executing the program for some reason.

The complete circuit built on a breadboard is shown here. You need a regulated +5V power supply for this project (Why regulated? You will find the answer in the Software section below).


Before writing the code for this project, you need to do some math related to AD conversion. You know that any application that uses analog-to-digital converters (ADCs), requires a fixed reference voltage to provide accurate digital count for input analog signal. If the reference voltage is not stable, the ADC output is meaningless. In this project, the reference voltage for ADC operation is selected to be Vdd (= +5 V). This is done by clearing the VCFG bit in ADCON0 register. Therefore, the ADC will convert any input voltage between 0-5 V in to a digital count between 0-1023. A major source of error in this project is the accuracy of R1 and R2 resistors. You are recommended not to use the rated values of the resistors. Rather measure their values with a good quality digital multimeter, and use those values for your calculation. What I found is R1 = 1267 ? and R2 = 3890 ?. Now,

0 – 5 V Analog I/P is mapped to one of the 1024 levels (0-1023 Digital Count)

=> Resolution = 5/1024 = 0.0049 V/Count

Also, Va = 1267*Vin/(1267+3890) = 0.2457*Vin
=> I/P voltage = 4.07*Va = 4.07* Digital Count * 0.0049
= 0.01994 * Digital Count
= 0.02*Digital Count (Approx.)

To avoid floating point, use I/P voltage = 2*Digital Count. Here’s how it works. Suppose, Vin = 4.6V. Then,

Va = 0.2457*Vin = 1.13V
=> Digital Count = 1.13/0.0049 = 231
=> Calculated I/P Voltage = 2*231 = 0462

In the 4-digit product (0462), the first two digits are the tens and units digits of measured voltage. and the last two are the decimal digits. So, the measured voltage will be 04.62 V. Only the first three digits will be displayed (04.6 V).PIC-based Digital Voltmeter (DVM) schematic

The firmware is developed in C and compiled with mikroC Pro for PIC compiler from Mikroelektronika. The PIC16F688 microcontroller uses internal clock oscillator at 4.0 MHz. MCLR is enabled and Power Up Timer is turned ON. You need to define RA2/AN2 input as analog by setting the corresponding bit in ANSEL register. VCFG bit of ADCON1 register is cleared to use Vdd = +5V as reference voltage for AD conversion. ADCON0 = 8 connects the AN2 input channel to the internal Sample and Hold circuit. Comparators on ports A and C pins must be disabled too (assign CMCON0 = 7). The configuration bits for the fuses are given below. You can set these in MikroC through Project->Edit Project.

Oscillator -> Internal RC No Clock
Watchdog Timer -> Off
Power Up Timer -> On
Master Clear Enable -> Enabled
Code Protect -> Off
Data EE Read Protect -> Off



For more detail: PIC-based Digital Voltmeter (DVM)

Current Project / Post can also be found using:

  • AN2 input microcontroller

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