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Implementation USB into microcontroller: IgorPlug-USB (AVR)

  Purpose of this article is to inform readers about implementation USB interface into singlechip microcontroller, which this interface directly not supports. Simply: implementation USB interface on firmware level (similar as emulation of RS232 interface in microcontrollers, which not have RS232 support). This project includes development of firmware on microcontroller side, driver development on computer side (for Windows operating system) , development of DLL library for functions calling from another programs (programmers level) and development of demo program (users level), which shows all functions of this device. Device is named IgorPlug-USB (AVR) (as successor of my previous device for computer remote control IgorPlug - serial port version).

Introduction:

    At present time is USB interface very popular especially within end user. This is due to the simplicity to the end users (Plug and Play, without restart). For developers is implementation of USB into their devices more complicated (with comparison to RS232 is USB more complex protocol). In addition there is need of software support on PC side - device drivers. Therefore more devices from small vendors are inclined to RS232 communication. This interface is probably the oldest in PC history and has good operating system support. But in latter years is RS232 removing from standard included PC interfaces (new computers hasn't RS232). In this case help only add-on PCI card with this interface.
    Implementation of USB into external devices is at present time solved in two choices:
    a) First is using microcontroller, which have hardware implemented USB interface. Then is necessary to know how USB works and according this write firmware into microcontroller. And in addition is necessary to create driver on the computer side (while operating system not includes it - e.g. standard USB classes). Disadvantage (and this is the main disadvantage for small vendors and amateurs) is not good availability of this microcontrollers (PIC, Cypress, Atmel, Intel, ...) and their high price (with comparison to simple "RS232" microcontrollers).
    b) Second option is to use some universal converter between USB and "another" interface. This "another" interface depends on type of convertor: there are used especially RS232, 8-bit data bus, I2C bus. In this case is not need of special firmware (actually we needn't to know how USB works) and no need of driver writing (vendor of converter offer free drivers). Disadvantage is higher price of the complete device and greater dimensions of product (need of one chip more).

    My solution, which I have resolved to develop - and successfully finished ;-)  - is USB implementation into cheap microcontroller through the emulation of USB protocol in firmware of microcontroller. Problem during design was microcontroller speed. Speed of USB bus is too high: LowSpeed - 1.5Mbit/s, FullSpeed - 12Mbit/s, HighSpeed - 480Mbit/s. Normal microcontrollers are maximum performance cca: AT89C2051 - 2MIPS = 24MHz/(12cycl/inst.), PIC16F84 - 5MIPS = 20MHz/(4cycl/inst.), AT90S23x3 - 10MIPS = 10MHz/(1cycl/inst.). There exist microcontrollers with highest speeds too, but they are poorly available (price too) and are biggest (more pins - difficult construction). For all that I have decided for microcontrollers PIC16F84 or AT90S1200/AT90S23x3, which would be "enough" for LowSpeed USB. For highest USB speeds is this solution not good - for one bit from USB processing is need of several cycles of microprocessor: reading, comparison, storing, some operation, ... . 
    Firstly I choose PIC16F84-20, with which I have experiences. To ensure synchronizing with USB clock and speed increasing was used microcontroller clock 24MHz = 6MIPS (PIC was slightly overclocked). For one bit from USB processing were 4 instructions (4=6MIPS/1.5Mbit for LowSpeed USB). I reject this solution (after some time) - PIC is too slow (and in addition the no so good instruction set ...) .
    Second try was AT90S1200-12, which satisfied me with its speed - possible to receive and transmit signal on LowSpeed USB speed. But I reject this solution too - absence of enough program and data memory - simply small memory to implement this.
    Third try was successful: AT90S2313-10 (or AT90S2323-10, AT90S2343-10). This are RISC microcontrollers from Atmel  production - AVR family. With comparison with PIC are slow crystal clock, but have 1 instruction per crystal clock (PIC16F84 has to 1 instruction per 4 crystal clock). In addition their instruction set and architecture is nearly to RISC. Again because of synchronization with USB clock I used overclocking to12MHz (AT90S23x3-10 are initially to10MHz only). In this manner I obtained more performance and 12MHz crystals are "easy to obtain" (with comparison to e.g. 10.5MHz - which is the multiple of LowSpeed USB clock 1.5Mbit/s too).

Construction:

    My solution offer very simple and cheap hardware (cca 3,-US$). All intelligence is in firmware. Construction is designed as infrared remote control of computer through USB (successor of construction for serial port ), but this is universal USB interface too
This device allow:

Thanks to versatility is possible to use microprocessor on place of universal converter e.g. in application where we want to control (read and write) some input-output pins. Possible application are e.g.: to pins we directly connect I2C thermometer, inputs and outputs of  security device, or simply only  LED diodes or LCD/LED display etc., etc., etc. .

On the next picture is schematic:
    with microprocessor AT90S2313-10 (universal interface):


or with microprocessor AT90S2323-10 (only for IR code receiving) - not tested yet, but designed for this purpose - was tested by users - WORKS GOOD:

 

and physical construction (IR receiver: computer remote control for program Girder):

   Simplicity of device is truly wondrous. And is accessible for amateurs too - for their devices connection to USB (this always enjoy - I know this according my experience, when Windows first time find this "New hardware found" ;-) ). Firmware - the heart of device - is the same for both microprocessors. In 8-pin version (AT90S2323-10) you can use only infrared code receiving and writing/reading to/from EEPROM. But 8-pin version is by dimension probably the smallest device connected to USB (SMD version).

Installation of device IgorPlug-USB (AVR):

    For success communication between USB device and computer, there is necessary to give driver for device. This driver is requested by operating system during first connection IgorPlug-USB (AVR) into USB connector in computer. In the future maybe this driver will not be necessary : by change in firmware is possible, that device will be standard USB class (HID class, Storage Class ,...), - for this classes has operating system build-in drivers. Advantage of own driver is, that we have control of driver behavior. I choose for "own" driver only because of learning "how this works" and mainly for simplicity of implementation into firmware of device.
    Next pictures shows device installation steps (and driver installation) on the first plugging IgorPlug-USB (AVR) into USB connector. Driver is the same for Windows98, WindowsME, Windows2000 and WindowsXP  (under Windows95 not works):

Firstly under WindowsXP:

  Windows find device IgorPlug-USB (AVR).
  Choose install from our location. 
Here we browse to folder with installation files (INF file and SYS driver)
 Windows do some necessary changes.
Driver have not digital signature from Microsoft - but we not stop installation.  Windows make backup (for safe recovery ;-) ).
And in case when Windows don't to find SYS driver, ...   ... then we give to him correct path to driver. And installation is finished: 
 

And under Windows98:
The same as under WindowsXP, only in another visual form. 

     

 

    After success installation we can look at device in "Device manager":
Device Manager under WindowsXP:

Device Manager under Windows98:

Software support:

    As I mentioned - for correct device operation is necessary driver, which is requested by operating system during installation. This driver I not wrote alone - I used one freeware USB driver and for this driver I adapted firmware. Thanks to versatility of this driver this solution is conform to me. I only slightly modify this driver I wrote in Microsoft Windows2000 DDK enviroment (and has some improvements - comparison with old driver). Name of this driver is "IgorPlug.sys" and is included in installation pack.
    For installation is necessary installation descriptive file INF. Just this file was requested by Windows during installation of device and we must browse to folder with this INF file if we are asked for driver location. In this file is install information for given device - and according to this information will be installed driver and eventually will be made other actions. I was created this INF file according to template file from my USB book. Because every USB device must have assigned vendor number (VID) from USB-organization (USB-IF), then I  "borrow" this number from company Atmel (I hope that Atmel excuse me this borrowing - I won't to pay cca 1500 US$ for number assignment) and I implement it into microprocessor and into INF file. Name of this file is "IgorPlug.inf" and is included in installation pack. So for device installation are necessary only two files ("IgorPlug.sys" a "IgorPlug.inf").
    By this way we had successfully installed device IgorPlug-USB (AVR). And we can go to test it. For this purpose I had written DLL library "IgorUSB.dll", which contains functions, which device IgorPlug-USB (AVR) makes. This DLL library communicates with driver "IgorPlug.sys"  and provide serialization of communication (when we are using DLL from more threads or applications). Library DLL is primary dedicated for programmers of end user applications for access to device: exported functions from DLL are published.
    Next pictures shows information about DLL library and SYS driver as was displayed under WindowsXP:

 

    Finally I had created end user application - exemplar program "AVR to USB tester", which shows all functions of device IgorPlug-USB (AVR). It call functions from DLL library "IgorUSB.dll" and is in fact the sample program. 
Program functions:

Next picture shows functions of demonstrational program AVR to USB tester and its properties (in WindowsXP style):

 

    For programming AVR microcontroller is necessary programmer. But commercial  programmer is for most users hard to obtain because its high price. Therefore I design simple LPT programmer of this microlontrollers - simple connection to computer LPT port. For this programmer I wrote control software -  inside it is also firmware of device IgorPlug-USB (AVR) (only start program and burn microcontroller) and also schematics of programmer (for both microcontrollers: AT90S2313 and AT90S2323).
Here is schematic of programmer and its control program (works under WinXP too):

You can download control software in download section.

Something about development:

    Development of this device was cca 4 months long (every evening after work cca 4 hours - long evenings ;-) ) + previous study and knowledge about USB and AVR microprocessors. Therefore this was not too easy (I must all study, watch, try alone). But now is no problem for me to change some function of microcontroller  (e.g. omit "infra-buffer" and instead it to implement RS232 buffer). And USB is now nothing "unknown" for me (from the physical level to end user application).
Idea of this project was in my head cca 2 years (after my first download of USB specification) - reborn was after similar project of one Russian "developer", which make this - but this was only his All Fools Day joke (but at that time I give the lie to his device). But his project was impulse for me to my project activity and to slogan : nothing is impossible ;-) .
    The biggest "unknown" was understand all USB specification (but really all - from the physical level to end user level). Therefore study of USB was very important. The main information source was USB specification (free download from http://www.usb.org) and lately book "USB  Měření, řízení a regulace pomocí sběrnice USB" from publisher BEN . And of course various internet sources.
    During development I was using for testing many "test" a "information utility" downloaded from internet (USBcheck, DisplayUSB, SnoopyPro, Fiddler, ...). For firmware development I was using free tool "AVR Studio 4" (from Atmel-u pages) and programmer "T51prog" (from Elnec company). For "physical observation" was used "Scopemeter FLUKE 123" (wonderful device) from FLUKE . As template design of USB device was for me USB mouse "Genius NetScroll+" from Genius company (bought in Agem-e). The microprocessor (and the "unsuccessful" too) I has bought in GM-electronic . So Many Thanks to all for help.
    I was using for development next programs and many thanks of their creators:

 And who want to see more pictures from my "development place" , here are: DevelopmentBoard1, DevelopmentBoard2, DevelopmentBoard3, DevelopmentBoard4, DevelopmentPlace1.JPG, DevelopmentPlace1, DevelopmentTools1, DevelopmentToolsElnecProgrammer, TargetDeviceAtmelAVR, TargetDeviceToUSBcable, LiteratureAndInformationSource.
And some information about my device IgorPlug-USB (AVR) as  was dislayed by test utilities: USBDesignByExample, USBCheckFullTest, USBCheckDeviceDescriptor, USBCheckConfigurationDescriptor, USBCheckInterfaceDescriptor, USBCheckEndpointDescriptor, USBCheckViewDescriptors, USBCheck, SnoopyProDeviceDescriptor, SnoopyProConfigurationDescriptor, SnoopyProVendorCommand, ......enough (for unfamiliar persons are this not so clearly).

For the persons concerned to build this device as USB receiver like small USB key USBkey remote receiver I prepared documentation: PCB layout, schematic and PCB devices location. This documentation you can see here as PDF file

Download:

    Firmware into microprocessor is available in HEX-file and now also as source code (I publish it for more users requests - for adding your own functions). And now I publish documentation of PC software support (that was in the past only in full version). Of course: commercial use is not free. As freeware I publish e.g. computer remote control on serial port , (and all other my projects) and even if I was requesting small development fee from satisfied users, so from cca 20 000 downloads (about which I know) will be helpful only one person (4US$ - thank you) (although time for answering to cca 1500 e-mails is too much). So there is rule - if there is something free only per voluntary - no wait from anybody. 
    Because I want that device will be available for more users, then for download is : IntelHEX file for AT90S23x3-10, driver , DLL-library for access to IgorPlug-USB (AVR) and demonstration program for control of IgorPlug-USB (AVR) (so all :-o ).
    In the next I publish source code of firmware of microcontroller and also documentation of DLL library (for writing your own applications). Documentation is for Delphi, C++Builder/Visual C++, Visual Basic. So everybody can try how the device work.
    For fast device construction is available also simple LPT programmer of given microcontrollers (AT90S2313-10 and AT90S2323-10). And for less experienced users is small installation guide (step by step).
    There is only one limitation of this "free" version - DLL library shows information window during the first run (functions is the same). For your own application will be better to buy registered version of DLL library. For vendors, which want to sell complete product:: programmed microprocessor + CD with full version of software and documentation, I offer full versions for distribution (of course with my copyright). According this way I want to remove problems with payment - end users will be buying from internet shops of local vendors in your country. 
Price for end user will be cca 150,-Sk (Slovakia) or 4,-Euro (Europe) or 4,-US$ (other world). For distributors will be of course discount (after contract with me).
    The persons concerned for documentation and for commercial usage of product can contact me by e-mail.
    For utilization of product as computer remote control - is recommended to read article IgorPlug .

   DOWNLOAD:
    Here is the download (ZIP archive):   IntelHEX into AT90S23x3-10, installation files (driver), DLL library (free version), exemplar application. This files can be changed in the future (according to requests there will be changing only DLL library, SYS driver remain the same).
For programming of microcontroller through LPT port is necessary to download IgorPlugUSBprogrammer.
And developers will be interested in package: firmware source code into AT90S23x3 + interface to DLL library IgorUSB.dll (please don't abuse). DLL function descriptions are for Delphi, C++Builder/Visual C++, Visual Basic.
For end users is very useful detailed installation procedure (small install manual - step by step: plug device into USB, there appear ... , then insert CD ... , etc.)
    I am making decision to publish (concerned person can contact me - I am making consumer research):
  
- documentation for DLL library : for programmers to write own application - IT ALREADY BECAME
  
- source code for microcontroller : for firmware changes to your specific functions - IT ALREADY BECAME
   - but this all only for non commercial use!!! - THIS REMAINS VALID

History:
- January 2003 : finishing, documented and publishing of project
- May 2003 : begin of new project: implementation into ATmega8 as RS232+ converter (see my projects)
- July 2003 : finished implementation of improoved RS232+ interface into ATmega and AT90S2313 (see IgorPlug-USB (AVR) RS232.htm)
- August 2003 : created my own driver in DDK with some improvements (more effective transfer, removed problem during computer hibernation, ...)
- September 2003 : changed interface of DLL library for correct use in v C++ and Visual Basic (modified documentation of DLL)
- May 2003 - 2004 : new project based on IgorPlug-USB executed: Application Note for Atmel Company USB to RS232 converter

In case of problems with downloads - visit my mirror: http://members.chello.cz/cesko, or contact me by e-mail and I will send it to you by e-mail.

 Tested on operating systems:
  - Windows95 - no function (need to rewrite driver)
  - Windows98, Windows XP, Windows 2000  : fully functional and tested
  - Windows ME : should be fully functional but not tested (you can test it - and give me answer by e-mail)
Hardware requirements:
  - minimal tested configuration : Intel Pentium 120MHz without MMX, 32MB RAM (Windows 98) (my old PC)

 

FAQ:

Q: After device plugin into USB port is the device not recognized - recognized only as "Unknown USB device".
A1: Problem of bad device detection is in hardware. In schematic you must add series resistors into USB data lines - see schematic on my website. You can increase the resistors from 68R up to 330R. And additionally you can connect Zener diodes (3.6V) to USB D+ and D- data lines. Problem appears mainly on notebooks and new computers. Usually is there no problem when you plug device into external USB hub. Problem is caused by high voltage coming from microcontroller to USB lines - allowed max. 3.6V (input current into computer USB port).
A2: If you are using ATtiny2313 you must set fuses during programming: disable division the external clock by 4 and enable high speed XTALL.
Note: No driver update helps ;-) .

Q: Is possible to use ATtiny2313 instead AT90S2313?
A: The device is compiled for AT90S2313 but works also on ATtiny2313 - same HEX file (binary compatible). For correct operation on ATtiny2313 you must set fuses during programming: disable division the external clock by 4 and enable high speed XTALL. The HEX file is in download package on my website.

Q: Is possible to program ATtiny2313 with LPT programmer?
A: The programmer is designed for 2313 only. For another AVR use please another simple programmer - for example from http://www.amwaw.edu.pl/~adybkows/elka/ispprog.html or http://www.serasidis.gr/circuits/avrprog/avrprog.htm . The HEX file is in download package on my website.

Q: How to order full version of driver - without the popup window on startup?
A: Please firstly pay 4,-EURO on www.moneybookers.com to my account: cesko@internet.sk. Then I will send to you the full version of software by email. Thanks.

Q: How to port existing firmware (USB for AVR) to another AVR device?
A: Look here - it is better for porting - written C-language and more more flexible: http://www.obdev.at/products/avrusb/index.html. Based on my idea but written from scratch in better way. I suggest this ;-)   -  perfect work

Q: How to use IgorPlug-USB device in own software?
A: Use "IgorUSB.dll" DLL library from my driver package. This library contains functions for access this USB device and is installed into system during device driver installation (no need to distribute it with your software). Documentation to this functions you can download here. Device offers received IR signal in oscilloscopic form (times between logic signal changes). For decoding this oscillograph is up to you (e.g.: my Girder plugin "IgorPlug.dll" decodes this) - but some know how needed about IR signal used in remote controls.

Q: Where to obtain source codes of driver?
A: Driver "IgorPlug.sys" has no free sources - as protection for commercial use. But this driver is very similar to my second driver for  RS232 to USB converter which is free. Source codes of this driver you can find on page for  IgorPlug-USB to RS232 converter +   - in download section here in this zip file.

Q: How to obtain source codes of firmware which has comments in English?
A: Source codes are commented in Slovak language (sorry ;-) ). But there exists also source codes with English comments for similar device:  IgorPlug-USB to RS232 converter +   - based on same core.

Q: How fast is the IO access of IgorPlug-USB device?
A: Each USB command takes min. 2ms: this is from USB principle. USB1.1 has time slot 1ms - so we need 1ms for sending request to device and next 1ms for answer from device (plus additional time for execution on device and PC software). For example if you are toggling IO pin on device the max. frequency of LED blinking will be 250Hz (LED is 2ms ON and 2ms OFF =>  f = 1/(4ms) = 250 Hz). Therefore - from principle - is USB fast only if large data block will be transferred in this 1ms slot (but response time is 1ms on USB1.1). 

Q: Another problems?
A: Write me email - but I am busy ;-) .

 

List of known vendors:

Donation and support !!!: If you are satisfied with this my smart idea - you can you can send to me some small financial payment (amount of payment is your choice): 
   Use internet payment for ordering registered version of software:     - here use my e-mail: cesko@internet.sk  as recipient and give me message what you are ordering in this form. After receiving your order I will inform you and full version of software I will send to your e-mail (which you write in order form).

 WORLDWIDE:
    - Lukáš Dziadkowiec offer on his website well looks USB receiver with all software for computer remote control. The persons concerned find all necessary information on his website (with many photos). Delivery is possible worldwide by post - very reliable vendor.

SLOVAKIA:
    - (in preparation is Pavol Bielopotocký)

    - Vrták František offer on website http://vrtak.webpark.sk USB receiver without cover (good solution to 3.5/5.25´ slot in computer) or also in small box in SMD version. Delivery by post. Info, photos and prices is on this site.

    - Branislav Rozbora : all information is on http://sektor-x.wz.cz.

CZECH REPUBLIC:
    - Lukáš Dziadkowiec offer on his website well looks USB receiver with all software for computer remote control. The persons concerned find all necessary information on his website (with many photos). Delivery is possible Czech republic by post.

  - Jiři Kalkus : offer USB and serial version. Cable length is optional by customer (0-10 m). Price of USB version is 350,-Kč (1.5m cable). Delivery is possible by post in all Czech Republic or personally in towns Ceske Budejovice and Prague. Contact: tel: +420721758094, e-mail: djbj@volny.cz , ICQ: 230642851, webpage: www.volny.cz/djbj

RUSSIA:
    - Evgeniy Melnikov offer on his website USB receiver. Site: http://evm.wallst.ru page: http://evm.wallst.ru/main/igorusb/index.htm Price: receiver (hardware) - 7$, DLL (full version) - 4$. Delivery is fast, cash on delivery (in Russia), or delivery is possible in Chelyabinsk (face-to-face). e-mail: msevm@mail.ru.

SINGAPORE (ASIA PACIFIC REGION):
  - Han Loke Su : from Singapore site offer USB and Serial versions. For DIY, offers SFH5110-38 and AT90S2313-10PI as well. More info on website: http://www.alldiy.info  Delivery is possible within Asia Pacific region by post.


  In case of your interest to sell this "product" (programmed microprocessor + CD with documentation and software) I publish your address (or another contact) on this place. Condition is reliability of your customers. Price of device will be contracted (cost free for small production volume!!!). You can contact me by e-mail.

Internet links:

www.cesko.host.sk - section Hardware
www.cesko.host.sk/girderplugin.htm  - remote control of computer by infrared remote control
www.appliedp.sk - company for which I am working and developing something from another brand 
www.usb.org - all about USB bus
and another: ...

Contents:

Introduction
Construction
Installation of device IgorPlug-USB (AVR)
Software support
Download
FAQ

Vendors
Internet links

This site will be continuously renewed with new information (which will be interest).


author: Ing. Igor Češko:
            e-mail: cesko@internet.sk
            homepage: www.cesko.host.sk