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July 9, A little known feature of Arduinos and many other AVR chips is the ability to measure the internal 1. This feature can be exploited to improve the accuracy of the Arduino function — analogRead when using the default analog reference.
It can also be used to measure the Vcc supplied to the AVR chip, which provides a means of monitoring battery voltage without using a precious analog pin to do so. In this article, I have incorporated some additional improvements.
Motivation There are at least two reasons to measure the voltage supplied to our Arduino Vcc. One is if our project is battery powered, we may want to monitor that voltage to measure battery levels.
Also, when battery powered, Vcc is not going to be 5.
A common assumption when using analogRead is that the analog reference voltage is 5. The official Arduino documentation even leads us to this wrong assumption.
The fact is the default analog reference is not 5. If our power supply is not perfectly regulated or if we are running on battery power, this voltage can vary quite a bit. Here is example code illustrating the problem: Most AVR chips provide three possible sources — an internal 1. An external voltage reference is the most accurate, but requires extra hardware.
Vcc is completely untrustworthy in most cases. The choice of the internal reference is inexpensive and stable, but most of the time, we would like to measure a broader range, so the Vcc reference is the most practical, but potentially the least accurate.
In some cases it can be completely unreliable! Why would anyone want to do so? The reason is simple — by measuring the internal reference, we can determine the value of Vcc.
First set the voltage reference to Vcc. Measure the value of the internal reference. Calculate the value of Vcc. Our measured voltage is: Solving for Vcc, we get: One example would be for checking your battery charge level.
You could also use it to determine if you are connected to a power source or running from batteries. Measuring Vcc for Analog Reference You can also use it to get a correct value for Vcc to use with analogRead when using the default Vcc voltage reference.
This function will provide the correct value to use. Unfortunately, this procedure will not provide that result. It is dependent on the accuracy of the internal voltage reference. The spec sheet gives a nominal value of 1. Such a measurement could be less accurate than our power supply for the Arduino!
Improving Accuracy While the large tolerance of the internal 1. To do so, simply measure your Vcc with a voltmeter and with our readVcc function. Then, replace the constant L with a new constant: Feel free to experiment with your own measurements.
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