Timer 0 - Delay Using Polling

Hardware Timers are built into most microcontrollers and can be a useful timebase for many projects. This project demonstrates how to use a timer to create a delay for a blinking a Light Emitting Diode (LED).


Step by Step Instructions

Using the MPLAB® Code Configurator (MCC), this project generates the code to blink an LED using a hardware Timer 0 to generate the delay between the on and off state.


The project uses:

PICDEM Lab II Connections:

  • Connect 5 V and GND to the power bus of the protoboard.
  • Connect 5 V to the Vdd pin of the PIC16F1508
  • Connect Gnd to the Vss pin of the PIC16F1508
  • Connect a wire from the RA2 pin (pin 17) to the breadboard Row 23
  • Connect a wire from the ground bus to breadboard Row 27
  • Connect the LED Anode to breadboard Row 23
  • Connect the LED Cathode to breadboard Row 24
  • Connect a 330 Ω resistor between Row 24 and Row 27

To follow along with these steps, MPLAB X should be open and the programmer/debugger connected to both the computer and the Development Board. The setup is described in the "Setup and Installation" section of this training module. You should see a screen similar to the one below before proceeding to step 1.



Create a new 'Stand-Alone' project in MPLAB X for a PIC16F1508.

If this is your first time creating an MPLAB X project, please visit the "Create a Standalone Project" page to follow a step-by-step instruction on how to do this.


Open the MPLAB Code Configurator under the Tools > Embedded menu of MPLAB X IDE.

The sections of the MCC tool are shown in the image below. We will refer to these sections by name throughout this article. This highlight can be enabled over the MCC at any time by clicking on the information icon mccinfo.png.


Select the peripherals for your project.
In this first project these peripherals need to be selected:

  • System Module
  • Interrupt Module
  • Pin Module
  • TMR0

These modules will automatically be included when you launch the MCC. TMR0 needs to be added from Device Resources. Just click on 'Timer' and then double-click on 'Timer 0' to add it to the project. The result should look like the picture below:



Open the 'Pin Manager' and then click on the PORTA pin 2 (RA2) output blue lock symbol. It should turn green. This adds this RA2 I/O pin to the project. Also, make sure the reset pin has the blue lock shown. If it is green, then click on the green lock to make it blue. This will make the reset internal. It should look like the picture here when completed:



Close the 'Pin Manager' and then click on the 'Pin Module' under Project Resources.


The center screen should show RA2 listed on the I/O chart. Click on the Output box to make the pin an output (if not checked) and make sure Analog and WPU are not checked (click on them to uncheck them).



The System needs to be setup next. Click on the System name under Project Resources.


In this section, the oscillator settings and the configuration settings are selected.


  1. Select the 'INTOSC' from the System Clock Select drop-down menu.
  2. Select the '1MHz_HF' selection from the Internal Clock drop-down menu.

This will enable the internal 1 MHz internal oscillator as the system clock.



Each configuration setting can be changed under the 'Register tab' of the System window. Match the selections shown here:



Timer0 needs to be setup. Click on the 'TMR0' label under Project Resources to make the Timer0 setup appear.

  1. Check the Enable Prescaler box and select the '1:256' selection from the drop-down menu.
  2. Click on 'Clock Source' and select 'Internal (Fosc/4)'. This will select the instruction clock as the clock input to the Timer0.
  3. Input 250 into the Period box and it will change to the exact value of 249.856 ms. This is the closest the setup can get to a 250 ms delay. This will set the Timer0 to overflow every 250 ms (249.856 ms approximately).

The window should look like the one below after the proper setup:



Click on the Generate Code button to have the MCC create the software libraries for this project.



The project will now have both generated Header Files and Source Files. It should also have a generated main.c file.

Note: MCC may offer to generate a main.c file. Click on Yes to allow it to complete this task.


Double click on the main.c file to open it up in the Editor window.



Timer0 will run until it overflows and then it will set a Timer Overflow Bit (T0IF) and keep running. The software routine just has to monitor that T0IF bit and when it's set, toggle the LED from OFF to ON or ON to OFF. Then software must clear the T0IF bit so it can be set again on the next overflow.

Add the following code to the end of the main.c file:

 while (1)
        // Add your application code
        if (TMR0_HasOverflowOccured()) //Has Timer0 Overflowed?
            IO_RA2_Toggle(); //Switch state of RA2 LED when overflow occurs
            TMR0IF = 0;      //Clear the Timer0 overflow flag

Note: The TMR0_HasOverflowOccured() and IO_RA2_Toggle() functions are generated by the MCC and their definitions are located in the pin_manager.h file.

This is a simple example of how the MCC generates a library of useful functions to make creating project code much easier and quicker.


Click on Build Project (hammer icon) to compile the code; you should see a "BUILD SUCCESSFUL" message in the Output window of MPLAB X IDE.

BUILD SUCCESSFUL (total time: 4s)


Make sure your project has the programming tool selected and power is supplied to your development board.

  • PICkit 3 has limited power capability so we recommend powering the board separately.
  • ICD 3 can power a development board, but for the sake of simplicity, we recommend powering the board separately.
  • REAL ICE cannot power the development board so powering the board separately is required.

Click on Make and Program Device. This will build the project again and launch the programmer. In the Output window, you should see a series of messages and, if successful, it will end with a "Programming and Verify Successful" message and the LED connected to RA2 should be blinking quickly on the PICDEM Lab II Development Board.

Connecting to MPLAB^^®^^ PICkit 3...
Firmware Suite Version.....01.34.11
Firmware type..............Enhanced Midrange

Target detected
Device ID Revision = 6

The following memory area(s) will be programmed:
program memory: start address = 0x0, end address = 0x7ff
configuration memory
Device Erased...

Programming/Verify complete

If it's the first time the programmer is connected to the board, the programming tool may need to download the proper operating firmware for the exact device. You may see a series of processes if this occurs. This should only happen once:

Downloading Firmware…
Downloading bootloader
Bootloader download complete
Programming download…
Downloading RS…
RS download complete
Programming download…
Downloading AP…
AP download complete
Programming download…
Firmware Suite Version…..01.34.11
Firmware type…………..Enhanced Midrange


The project can be closed in MPLAB X IDE. The project is saved automatically when it is built, but any changes to files or configuration may ask to be saved before the project is closed.
The project can be closed under File > Close Project.



If you have any problems with your project, the completed MPLAB X project file can be downloaded from the link below:

File Download
Windows Linux Mac OSX
Project 4 Files
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