7.10 Serial Communication
SCI is an abbreviation for Serial Communication Interface and, as a special subsystem, it exists on most microcontrollers. When it is not available, as is the case with PIC16F84, it can be created in software.
As with hardware communication, we use standard NRZ (Non Return to Zero) format also known as 8 (9)-N-1, or 8 or 9 data bits, without parity bit and with one stop bit. Free line is defined as the status of logic one. Start of transmission - Start Bit, has the status of logic zero. The data bits follow the start bit (the first bit is the low significant bit), and after the bits we place the Stop Bit of logic one. The duration of the stop bit 'T' depends on the transmission rate and is adjusted according to the needs of the transmission. For the transmission speed of 9600 baud, T is 104 uS.
In order to connect a microcontroller to a serial port on a PC computer, we need to adjust the level of the signals so communicating can take place. The signal level on a PC is -10V for logic zero, and +10V for logic one. Since the signal level on the microcontroller is +5V for logic one, and 0V for logic zero, we need an intermediary stage that will convert the levels. One chip specially designed for this task is MAX232. This chip receives signals from -10 to +10V and converts them into 0 and 5V.
The circuit for this interface is shown in the diagram below:
Connecting a microcontroller to a PC via a MAX232 line interface chip
File RS232.inc contains a group of macros used for serial communication.
Using the macro for serial communication:
When rs232.inc file is used, it is necessary to declare variables Rstemp and TXD at the beginning of the main program.
As a demonstration of a serial communication, we have an example which sends text and the content of variable cnt. Text is sent via macro rs232text, while variable cnt is sent via macro rs232byte. This operation repeats itself after 500ms, with incrementing cnt in the process. This example can be easily modified to have button(s) for sending specified data.