Monday, November 19, 2012

Things that there are never enough of, part 1

There is never enough bandwidth.

I can get an MPU6000 from Newark for about $39, or I can get an MPU6050 from Sparkfun for about $20. The only issue with the 6050 is that it runs on I2C, and maxes out at 400kHz. In burst mode, I can get a byte across in 9 clock cycles. An MPU6050 readout has three 16-bit gyro registers, three 16-bit acc registers, and a 16-bit temperature readout, a total of 14 bytes, plus addressing the part, for 15 bytes. Nine cycles each gives 135 cycles, plus a couple more for starts and stops, call it 140 cycles.

Is this enough? Of course not. There is never enough bandwidth. But is it enough? In 1 millisecond, there are 400 cycles, so in theory the MPU6050 being read at 1000Hz will use up 33% of the available bandwidth.

Now there is also the high-accelerometer, read out using an I2C ADC. The ADC has three 16-bit data registers, so 7 bytes counting address. 7 bytes at 1000Hz, call it 70 more cycles. Now we are at 52% bus usage. We need to throw in a compass read and pressure sensor read every once in a while, but it looks like enough to run the sensor at whatever rate I want.

So maybe there is enough. One way to get more bandwidth is to use the other I2C bus on the chip, but this involves a fairly heavy redesign of the board. We would put the MPU and compass on one bus, and the HighAcc and pressure sensor on the other bus.

Onto the measurements. I put together a program which reads the sensors with no delay, in effect as fast as possible with blocking. The program records the tick count (TC), which increments at 60MHz, before each reading, then reads the ADXL345, HMC5883, MPU6050, and L3G4200D in that order. So, the time spent doing the ADXL345 read is the TC of each HMC packet minus the TC of the corresponding ADXL packet, and so forth. The ADXL345 consistently takes 131 microseconds with a variation of less than 1 microsecond. The HMC takes 483 microseconds. And for the moment of truth, the MPU6050 takes 539 microseconds. All is fine and good, right? Nope. We spend most of our time waiting for the card to write out. On a good write, it takes 9 milliseconds, 18 times longer than an MPU read, to write a sector to the SD card. A lot of that could be gotten around by not busy-waiting for the card to finish.

In any case, there is plenty of bandwidth for the sensors, so there is no point in splitting up the traffic to two I2C buses. Reading twice as many sensors as necessary and producing more data than necessary (the real rocketometer will only carry one set of gyros), it still is reading out at about 300Hz.

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