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Processing Frequency of Color Sensor TCS230 with Microcontroller AT89S51

The TCS230 programmable color light-to-frequency converter combines configurable silicon photodiodes and a current-to-frequency converter on single monolithic CMOS integrated circuit. The output is a square wave (50% duty cycle) with frequency directly proportional to light intensity (irradiance). The full-scale output frequency can be scaled by one of three preset values via two control input pins. Digital inputs and digital output allow direct interface to a microcontroller or other logic circuitry. Output enable (OE) places the output in the high-impedance state for multiple-unit sharing of a microcontroller input line.
The light-to-frequency converter reads an 8 x 8 array of photodiodes. Sixteen photodiodes have blue filters, 16 photodiodes have green filters, 16 photodiodes have red filters, and 16 photodiodes are clear with no filters. The four types (colors) of photodiodes are interdigitated to minimize the effect of non-uniformity of incident irradiance. All 16 photodiodes of the same color are connected in parallel and which type of photodiode the device uses during operation is pin-selectable. Photodiodes are 120 mm x 120 mm in size and are on 144-mm centers.

Functional Block Diagram


Terminal Function

No I/O Description
GND Power supply ground. All voltages are referenced to GND.
OE In Enable for fo (active low).
OUT Out Output frequency (fo).
S0, S1 1,2 In Output frequency scaling selection inputs.
S2,S3 7,8 In Photodiode type selection inputs.
VDD Supply voltage


S0 S1 Output Frequency Scaling ( fc ) S2 S3 Photodiode Type
Power Down Red
2% Blue
20% Clear ( No Filter )
100% Green

Power supply considerations
Power-supply lines must be decoupled by a 0.01-mF to 0.1-mF capacitor with short leads mounted close to the device package.

Input interface
A low-impedance electrical connection between the device OE pin and the device GND pin is required for improved noise immunity.

Output interface
The output of the device is designed to drive a standard TTL or CMOS logic input over short distances. If lines greater than 12 inches are used on the output, a buffer or line driver is recommended.

Photodiode type (color) selection
The type of photodiode (blue, green, red, or clear) used by the device is controlled by two logic inputs, S2 and S3 (see Table 1).

Output frequency scaling
Output-frequency scaling is controlled by two logic inputs, S0 and S1. The internal light-to-frequency converter generates a fixed-pulsewidth pulse train. Scaling is accomplished by internally connecting the pulse-train output of the converter to a series of frequency dividers. Divided outputs are 50%-duty cycle square waves with relative frequency values of 100%, 20%, and 2%. Because division of the output frequency is accomplished by counting pulses of the principal internal frequency, the final-output period represents an average of the multiple periods of the principle frequency. The output-scaling counter registers are cleared upon the next pulse of the principal frequency after any transition of the S0, S1, S2, S3, and OE lines. The output goes high upon the next subsequent pulse of the principal frequency, beginning a new valid period. This minimizes the time delay between a change on the input lines and the resulting new output period. The response time to an input programming change or to an irradiance step change is one period of new frequency plus 1 mS. The scaled output changes both the full-scale frequency and the dark frequency by the selected scale factor. The frequency-scaling function allows the output range to be optimized for a variety of measurement techniques. The scaled-down outputs may be used where only a slower frequency counter is available, such as low-cost microcontroller, or where period measurement techniques are used.

Measuring the frequency
The choice of interface and measurement technique depends on the desired resolution and data acquisition rate. For maximum data-acquisition rate, period-measurement techniques are used. Output data can be collected at a rate of twice the output frequency or one data point every microsecond for full-scale output. Period measurement requires the use of a fast reference clock with available resolution directly related to reference clock rate. Output scaling can be used to increase the resolution for a given clock rate or to maximize resolution as the light input changes. Period measurement is used to measure rapidly varying light levels or to make a very fast measurement of a constant light source. Maximum resolution and accuracy may be obtained using frequency-measurement, pulse-accumulation, or integration techniques. Frequency measurements provide the added benefit of averaging out random- or high-frequency variations (jitter) resulting from noise in the light signal. Resolution is limited mainly by available counter registers and allowable measurement time. Frequency measurement is well suited for slowly varying or constant light levels and for reading average light levels over short periods of time. Integration (the accumulation of pulses over a very long period of time) can be used to measure exposure, the amount of light present in an area over a given time period.