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Arduino Yun ESC - 400Hz PWM Signal (Comelicottero)
02nd, June
400Hz PWM on Atmega32u4 for multirotors (without using Servo Library)

!! Code available on my GitHub toskyRocker account !!

The main issue using the Servo Library is that you can hardly go faster than 125Hz, with a huge amount of interrupts generated. I use instead 16bit Timer1 and Timer3 to generate PWM signals @400Hz on 4 pins (up to 6 pins). No interrupts are required.

First of all you need to know what a timers and interrupts are: Timers and Interrups on Arduino

Once you got some basic info you can read the Atmega32u4 Datasheet for a better comprehension of Timer1 and Timer3 adopted in my code working on any Arduino with Atmega32u4 (Arduino Yun, Micro, Leonardo)

Andrea Toscano 2015
Microcontroller : Atmega32u4
PWM FREQUENCY @ 400Hz for multicopters

USE PIN   5,9,10,11*/

#define motor0 OCR1A // PIN 9
#define motor1 OCR1B // PIN 10
#define motor2 OCR1C // PIN 11
#define motor3 OCR3A // PIN 5
/* These values depend on ICR1 and ICR3 
   You may vary the following parameters if your 
   ESCs seem 
#define MIN 2200 
#define MAX 3800

int motorValue = 0;

unsigned long newMills = 0;
unsigned long oldMills = 0;

void setup()  {

  // Timer 1
  // Pin Setup
  // Output Direction
  DDRB |= (1 << 7) | (1 << 6) | (1 << 5);
  ICR1 = 0x1387;  // 400Hz
 bit 7:2 Compare output mode 3 channels.  
 Setting OCnA/OCnB/OCnC on comptare match, set output to LOW
 bit 1:0  Fast PWM, TOP: ICRn  Modality
  TCCR1A = 0b10101010;
bit 7:5 Don't Care
bit 4:3  Fast PWM
bit 2:0 Prescaler: clock/8

  TCCR1B = 0b00011010;

  // Initializing output variables
  motor0 = 0;
  motor1 = 0;
  motor2 = 0;

  // Timer 3

  DDRC |= (1 << PC6); // motor3  PWM Port.
  ICR3 = 0x1387;  

  TCCR3A = 0b10101010;
  TCCR3B = 0b00011010;
   // Initializing output var
  motor3 = 0;
  motorValue = MIN;

/* Test the duty cycle with an oscilloscope
   Loop will vary from min to max
void loop()
  newMills = millis();

  if (newMills - oldMills > 100)
    motorValue += 5;
    if (motorValue == MAX)
      motorValue = MIN;

    motor0 = motorValue;
    motor1 = motorValue;
    motor2 = motorValue;
    motor3 = motorValue;

    oldMills = newMills;

November 14th, 2016 at 16:53 by Christopher


Is it possible to integrate that with the PID Library? If so, how can I set the output of the PID calculation to be according to the PWM generated by this code?

November 14th, 2016 at 22:45 by AndrewTosky


Sure you can integrate it. It’s what I’ve done in my Comelicottero project:
https://github.com/toskyRocker/Comelicottero_Arduino_Yun .

PID doesn’t need to know anything about the nature of the input.
You only need to find the coefficient and provide MIN and MAX boundary values to prevent the integral overshoot.

March 7th, 2017 at 19:55 by Chris


Since the OCR register only receives integers, does that mean that your PID works with integers only? Is it precise enough?
Is there any way to work with floats on the PID and set the OCR register to a float number (which would be the PID output)?

March 7th, 2017 at 20:09 by AndrewTosky


Hi Chris,
First of all, the control system chain looks like this:
IMU signals -> Filters -> PIDs -> Motor Compensation Filter -> PWM Generation -> | -> ESCs -> Motors

PIDs of course work on floats since they receive inertial signals.
My PIDs are also optimised for quadcopter usage.
Have a look here https://github.com/toskyRocker/Comelicottero_Arduino_Yun/blob/master/PID.cpp .

PWM signals generation happens afterwards and it’s based on integers.
From my experience I think the granularity is fine enough, you don’t loose much precision.



March 9th, 2017 at 18:37 by Chris


OK, got it.
Another question: I see you set the ICR resgister to 4999, does that mean that your maximum duty cycle will be from 0-4999? Also, what is the formula to get this ICR value according to frequency?
Lastly, why do you use fast PWM instead of phase correct? I thought phase correct was the best choice for motor control…

March 10th, 2017 at 01:29 by AndrewTosky


Hi Chris,

The duty cycle is defined by ICR / prescaler. Since ICR has 5000 values and the prescaler is 8 (check TCCR1x registers) I get a 400Hz PWM signal as outcome.

ESCs are only interested in the length of the pulse, no matter which technique you adopt 🙂