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Sunday, March 24, 2019

A pretty universal battery profiler

Recently, I had a number of Li-Ion and LiPo cells fail on me, and I also suspected a very poor capacity from many of my NiMh cells. Using a method that I concocted earlier with a Raspberry Pi and an ADC was too much trouble and it did not really give me what I want. That method is described in one of my other posts.

The units you can buy give you a mAh number, but don't give you a graph, which is what I really wanted.
I also did not want to buy something that I can build, so I started a Google tour to find a design to my liking.
It took a while because most designs that I found were too rudimentary. My philosophy is that when you decide to build something, you might as well do it right.

The design that I eventually found that was even beyond my expectations can be found here :

This is a very complete instrument that comes with a very nice PC program to show the discharging graphs, great for documentation, and you can also drive the testing tool with it. I have never written an application that runs on a Windows PC, so I was delighted with this solution. I normally save data in a CSV format and use Excel to create graphs. This program is so much better!

The only initial downside was the hardware in terms of size. I don't have enough room, and I only build instruments in cases when I use them a lot.

Hardware changes and improvements
Very quickly though, I saw some simple improvements to the hardware that John Lowen, the original designer, used. I decided to use an Arduino Nano board as the processor. The good news is that it already comes with a serial to USB interface, and the power for the whole kit can be supplied from this USB link as well. I also wanted to reduce the foot print of the board I was going to use, so instead of a traditional 20x2 LCD, I opted for an inexpensive Nokia 5110 LCD display, that allowed me to display at least 5 lines with 14 characters each with a very small footprint.

I also happened to have two breakout boards with the INA219 from Adafruit already in my stash.
I ordered these a few years ago when I had plans to design my own power supply. (which I did, see an other post) The INA219 is a high-side bi-directional DC current sensor that can also measure the voltage. The chip itself is designed for battery operated devices like PC's, tablets and phones, and helps to figure out how much juice is still available from the cells.

Building a prototype
As is typical for me, I started out with a breadboard version of some of the hardware, and learn from it. After I was satisfied, I started with a protoboard that allowed me to reduce some noise and resistance of the current loop. The INA219 has very jittery readings of especially the current, so I wanted to make the signal path as clean as possible before I did some more drastic work.

Here is a photo of the setup where I did most of the work. In the background is the prototype, beyond that is a simple Li-Ion charger.

One of the reasons for building the prototype was to see how low in voltage the circuit would go. It was designed specifically for Li-Ion cells with a cut-off voltage of about 3.0V and a fully charged voltage of 4.2V. I wanted to go as high as 14V to be able to measure 12V lead batteries, and as low as 0.8V for 1.2V cells like Ni-Mh. That turned out to be no problem at all.

In the partially built version above, I still used a 20x2 LCD screen with an I2C interface, because my Nokia 5110 displays took a long time to arrive from you know where.

The finished hardware
Here is a picture of the finished product running a stress test at a 1Amp discharge current.

It was not easy to create the right setting for the back-light of the display to get the picture right. In real life it's much better. The reason why some numbers are difficult to see is that they quickly change and I did not want to speed-up the camera too much due to my room lighting.

The reason I say stress testing is that the maximum current that the heat-sink allows is about 1Amp. With that current, the temperature of the heatsink gets around 60 degrees Celsius. A maximum decharge current of 1Amp is enough for my intended applications, but if you go higher, get a larger heat-sink or use a fan.

Let me explain what you see on the LCD display.
First line is the title and the version number.
Second line is the cell voltage on the left and the dis-charge current on the right.
Third line is the 13-bit PWM number on the left and the "PID" error number on the right.
Fourth line shows the mAh number so far on the left and the running time on the right.
The fifth line is blank and used for error messages and to signal the end of test.

To the right of the display is a beeper, en below it is a trimmer to adjust the back-light level of the LCD.
Furthermore to the right is a fuse and below it the MOSFET on a heat sink.
Next to that are two cell holders, one for normal AA and 14500 types, and next to it a 18650 version.
Below these holders are a LiPo type socket and in blue a 2-wire terminal to connect everything else.
Below the display is the Arduino Nano and to the right the INA219 breakout board.
Below the Nano is a 4-pin connector for the I2C 20x2 LCD and a 100 uF cap for the 5V supply decoupling.
Above the Nano is the 1K2 series resistor to the Gate of the MOSFET, and the 10uF filter to ground.
Below the MOSFET is a 100K resistor that ties the Gate to ground, for safety.

The Nokia LCD display uses a 5-wire SPI and 3V3 power connection to the Nano.
The INA219 is fed by 5V coming from the Nano/USB port, and connects to the Nano with a 2-wire I2C connection.
The MOSFET I use is the same type as John uses, an IRL2203N Logic Level MOSFET, but I tried a few others like the BUK956R1 and they work just as well, as long as they are Logic Level.

Changing the MOSFET mode of operation
Apart from using another display and the Nano, the only major deviation I made to John's circuit is to increase the size of the filter capacitor to the Gate of the MOSFET, and add a 100K safety clamp to ground. John used a 100nF filter, and used PWM to drive the Gate, in an attempt to switch the MOSFET on and off. This is the preferred method to regulate power (and save energy and heat), but I found that the INA219 does not really like that. By increasing the capacitor value to 10uF, you create a crude ADC and the resulting DC voltage will drive the MOSFET into it's linear mode, and is than really acting as a variable resistor.

Improving the PC side of things
Together with John Lowen, we worked on some of the changes I suggested for the original PC program, to make it accept other cell technologies as well and turn it into a universal cell tester. He was very helpful and responsive and I think the program is now a lot better and supports all my particular wishes. One of the nice touches he added was a minimum cut-off voltage based on the various cell technologies. While te test is running the graph also shows the Min and Max values for that particular technology.  After a few more days of testing, John will be publishing this new version on the website I listed above.

Testing some cells
Below is an example of a test report. This is a poor cell that I rejected. Although it still performs pretty well, it has less than a third of the specified capacity left. If it ever had that. I now do incoming inspections on all arriving cells.

Because I needed extra 18650 cells, I ordered two UltraFire 4.200mAh 3.7V cells from a distributor. When they arrived, there was a nice note in the package saying that the UltraFire cells were not performing to their expectations, so they send me two German made M2 TEC 8.800mAh cells, specified to deliver 11.8Wh. This translates to a discharge current of over 3Amps. I charged and tested them 5x to obtain their maximum capacity. I used the maximum 1Amp with the tester, and lo and behold, even these German manufactured cells did not get above 1.200mAh. They weighted 35 grams, seems a little low to me. This is the reason I wanted this tester in the first place! And yes, I did send the distributor the test reports. Haven't heard back yet...

Note the jittery lines for the current and voltage after about 5 minutes into the test. I suspect this is due to the chemical reaction of the cell during the discharge. Some cells display a very nice line, and some very jittery. I don't think that this effect is a good sign for the quality of the cell. When the voltage is jittery, the current will be jittery too, because the program tries to keep the current constant.

Here is another test,this time of a 14500 Lithium cell, where I suspected the capacity very much.

The cell weight is a good give away for the vastly overrated capacities that are advertised, so this is a nice touch from John to add it into the documentation. His intention for this feature is to slap an unscrupulous or oblivious vendor with this proof to get replacements or his money back.

Are more expensive cells better than considerably less expensive cells?
There is only one way to find out.
Below is a test made with the latest version of the tester software using an inexpensive IKEA LADDA AAA HR03 1.2V NI-MH cell with a capacity of 900 mAh :

Inexpensive does not have to mean poor performance is what you can see here.

Is a much more expensive Panasonic BK-4HCCA 1.2V Eneloop AAA Ni-Mh 900mAh is any better?

Trying to improve on the original Arduino code
While testing, playing and learning about the Arduino code, I decided to try a real PID routine to see if I could improve the current loop. It was very jittery and I saw some room for improvement. I experimented for a few days with different methods while learning the subject, because I'm pretty much a noob with PID methods. In the end, I got one working pretty good, after making considerable changes to the original code, but it did not improve much. John's method seems to be good enough.  The root cause I think is the INA219 measured current "noise" in combination with the fluctuating voltage level of the cell. It almost looks like the chemicals inside the cell are "boiling", creating tiny effects on the output voltage. That combined with the jittery current readings from the INA219 is in my opinion the reason.

I also experimented with a version of my software low frequency filter program (IIR) that I used in my milli-Volt DMM code (see my post about that) to filter and tame the 24-bit ADC output. It worked in this application as well, but had some side-effects without improving much so it went in the bit-bucket as well. I think we need to leave "good enough" alone, and be satisfied with it.

Changing the PWM counter resolution
The most significant improvement I got however was when I realized that the 10-bit PWM counter that John used was too course for the current loop regulation. A single digit change caused too much of an effect. If you realize that the Gate voltage to turn on the MOSFET and regulate it as a resistor is all done within a very small Voltage range.  Typically within 100-200mV. A 10-bit counter with a 5V maximum output has a bit level resolution of 5V/1024 bits=4.8mV. My observations were that this is not fine enough. John maybe wasn't aware of the trick you can use to get higher resolution counters. I experimented with 12, 13 and 14-bits and settled on 13, giving me a bit resolution of 5V/8192 = 620 microVolt.

Most of the other software changes I made were to create a nice way to display the results on the Nokia display by making numbers right justified.

Finally, I added some code changes to better terminate the loop when an error occurs, or when the test finishes normally.

I also have no use for running the tester all by itself, so there is no method to try to input the test parameters other than by using the PC. All that code is gone. I also don't see a need to have an LED signalling the end of test, that's what the display and beeper are for, so that went out as well.

There are a number of added comments and additional documentation in the code, so my changes should be self-explanatory.

This tester is very easy to build, and the project was already very well documented. If you consider building a very good battery tester or profiler, you now have two options to choose from. I can highly recommend either one.


 * The code and hardware is based on a design from John Lowen <>
 * I wanted the same functionality, but a much simpler hardware solution
 * and mostly a smaller footprint. Besides 3.7V Lithium Lithium Ion and LiPo cells, I also
 * wanted to test NiMH and NiCad's (both 1.2V), lead cells (6+12V) and
 * normal batteries (1.5V). Luckily the PC program allows that, and the hardware
 * supports that too.
 * see my blog at
 * paulv march 2019

#include <Wire.h>
#include <Adafruit_INA219.h>
#include <SPI.h>              // Nokia 5110 lcd driver
#include <Adafruit_GFX.h>     // Nokia 5110 lcd driver
#include <Adafruit_PCD8544.h> // Nokia 5110 lcd driver

// If Arduino Nano, use old bootloader!

String SW_VERSION = "3.02"; // Nokia 5110 lcd display

boolean manual = false;     // false is with PC control
                            // manual mode is only used during testing

// Default 'set point' variables for manual mode. I use this mode only during testing
int target_mA = 100;
float cutoff_voltage = 1.0;
int time_limit = 180;
float kP = 30;              // Simple PID 'Proportional' control term
int tolerance = 1;          // Deadband to stop 'hunting' around target value
float offset = 0.0;

// Definitions for the LCD
// Using software SPI (slower updates, more flexible pin options):
// pin 7 - Serial clock out (SCLK)
// pin 6 - Serial data out (DIN)
// pin 5 - Data/Command select (D/C)
// pin 4 - LCD chip select (CS)
// pin 3 - LCD reset (RST)
Adafruit_PCD8544 lcd = Adafruit_PCD8544(7, 6, 5, 4, 3);

 * The Nokia 5110 LCD display is a graphic 84x48 pixel display.
 * You drive the display with pixels, so even characters are made-up of individual pixels.
 * The standard font allows the display of 15 characters per line
 * on 5 lines. The characters are 5 pixels wide and 7 high.
 * Because the character are made up of pixels, it means that you cannot "erase" characters
 * by overwriting them with a space. You have to use a reqtangular pixel filling routine
 * in order to do that.
 * The easiest way to drive the display in this application, that uses no graphics, is to
 * fully erase it and then build it up again. The refresh rate is fast enough, even by using the
 * slower software bit-banging SPI mode. It does not disturb the viewing.

// LCD display character and line position definitions
int c_pos_1  = 0;   // character position in pixels
int c_pos_2  = 1*6;
int c_pos_3  = 2*6;
int c_pos_4  = 3*6;
int c_pos_5  = 4*6;
int c_pos_6  = 5*6;
int c_pos_7  = 6*6;
int c_pos_8  = 7*6;
int c_pos_9  = 8*6;
int c_pos_10  = 9*6;
int c_pos_11  = 10*6;
int c_pos_12  = 11*6;
int c_pos_13  = 12*6;
int c_pos_14  = 13*6;

int line_1  = 0;  // line position in pixels
int line_2  = 10;
int line_3  = 20;
int line_4  = 30;
int line_5  = 40;

// Current shunt and voltage measurements
Adafruit_INA219 ina219;
 * Adafruit INA219 Breakout board
 * I2C connections:
 *    SCL pin goes to Nano A5
 *    SDA pin goes to Nano A4
 * VCC to +5V
 * GND to GND
 * Vin- and Vin+ are not used
float shuntvoltage = 0;
float busvoltage = 0;
double current_mA = 0;
float loadvoltage = 0;
float power_mW = 0;
 * The following variable displays the cell voltage.
 * There is a constant R that can be set in the read_INA routine that can
 * be used to account for wiring or PCB trace losses in the current loop.
 * If you can measure it.
 * You can also use a very accurate DVM to compare the cell voltage
 * with what you measure and tweak this variable to match the displayed
 * cell voltage. If you care for this precision...
float vR;

// lapse timer for test duration and mAh calculation
unsigned long  startMillisec;           // Variables for discharge timer.
unsigned long  sampleTime = 10000;      // Default samples to PC time (ms)
unsigned long millis_PC_wait;           // Timer for samples to PC
unsigned long millisCalc_mAh;           // Timer for mAh calc. and LCD write.
float last_hours = 0.0;                 // Working variables for time and mAh
float mAh_soFar = 0.0;
unsigned long hours;
unsigned long mins, secs;
int tMins;                              // measurement duration timer

// Beeper
int end_sounder = A2;     // Digital output for sounder
boolean sounded = false;  // flag to limit beeping
int beep = 1;             // value coming from PC, no longer used

// Variables and flags to terminate test
int cancel = 0;
boolean timed_out = false;
boolean high_current = false;
boolean cutoff_voltage_reached = false;
String error_code = "";
boolean end_of_test = false;

/* a hack to create up to 16-bit PWM signals:
 * The above one is WRONG! Below is the correct one.
 * I use the 13-bit version because the resolution of the 10-bit counter is too
 * course to drive the error variations.
void setupFastPWM() {
  /* Changing ICR1 will effect the resolution and the frequency.
  ICR1 = 0xffff; (65535) 16-bit resolution  244 Hz
  ICR1 = 0x7fff; (32767) 15-bit resolution  488 Hz
  ICR1 = 0x3fff; (16383) 14-bit resolution  977 Hz
  ICR1 = 0x1fff;  (8192) 13-bit resolution 1953 Hz
  ICR1 = 0x0fff;  (4096) 12-bit resolution 3908 Hz
  DDRB |= (1 << DDB1) | (1 << DDB2);
  TCCR1A = (1 << COM1A1) | (1 << COM1B1) | (1 << WGM11);
  TCCR1B = (1 << WGM12) | (1 << WGM13) | (1 << CS10);
  OCR1A = 0;
  ICR1 = 0x1fff; /* TOP counter value (freeing OCR1A)*/

/* xx-bit version of analogWrite(). Works only on pins 9 and 10. */
void analogWriteFast(uint8_t pin, uint16_t val)
  switch (pin) {
    case  9: OCR1A = val; break;
    case 10: OCR1B = val; break;

// PWM setup
const byte pwm_pin = 9;   // PWM DAC, only pins 9 and 10 are allowed with the fast PWM
int pwm = 4000;           // Starting value for 13-bit DAC. PWM is typ. @ 4540
float pid_error;          // the error between current setiing and actual current,
                          // used in the "PID" calculation to drive the MOSFET

void setup(void) {
  lcd.begin();            // initialize the lcd
  lcd.setCursor(c_pos_1, line_1);   // 1st pos, first line      
  lcd.print("Cell Test ");
  lcd.setCursor(c_pos_11, line_1);
  lcd.display();          // show the buffer on the lcd display
  // Initialize the INA219.
  // By default the initialization will use the largest range (32V, 2A).  However
  // you can call a setCalibration function to change this range (see comments).

  pinMode(end_sounder, OUTPUT);                 // Output to sounder.
  digitalWrite(end_sounder, LOW);
  // Set up DAC pin as output
  pinMode(pwm_pin, OUTPUT);
  analogWriteFast(pwm_pin, pwm);  // and set to zero PWM out (off)

  if (!manual) {                                // If not manual, must be under PC control.
    lcd.setCursor(c_pos_1, line_3);             // I only use manual during testing.
    lcd.print("Waiting for");                   // Prompt that we're waiting to receive
    lcd.setCursor(c_pos_1, line_4);             // the load settings from the application
    lcd.print("PC settings...");                // that's running on the PC.
    lcd.display();                              // Show it on the lcd

     * Wait for the settings coming from the PC
    while (Serial.available() == 0 ) ;          // Wait for settings params from PC
    if (Serial.available() > 0) {               // Data available on serial port from PC
      target_mA = Serial.parseInt();            // so read each one in turn into variables.
      cutoff_voltage = Serial.parseFloat();     // Minimum battery voltage to end test
      time_limit = Serial.parseInt();           // maximum time allowed for the test
      sampleTime = Serial.parseInt() * 1000;    // Interval to send data to PC
      kP = Serial.parseInt();                   // kP - control loop Proportional value
      offset = Serial.parseFloat();             // I don't use this
      tolerance = Serial.parseInt();            // I don't use this
      beep = Serial.parseInt();                 // Sounder (0=off, 1=on) no longer used
      cancel = Serial.parseInt();               // Will = 0. Clear Cancel flag
    Serial.flush(); // Make sure the serial port is empty to avoid
                    // false 'Cancel' messages in the control loop.
   * With the higher pwm resolution, it takes longer to ramp-up to a large current setting
   * shorten the ramp-up time
  if (target_mA > 99){
    kP = 50;  // the maximum
  // These lines echo the received values to the LCD and display them for 5 seconds
  lcd.setCursor(c_pos_1,line_1);                // first line
  lcd.print("Current: "); lcd.print(target_mA);
  lcd.setCursor(c_pos_1, line_2);               // second line
  lcd.print("Cutoff V: "); lcd.print(cutoff_voltage);
  lcd.setCursor(c_pos_1, line_3);               // third line
  lcd.print("T-limit: "); lcd.print(time_limit);
  lcd.setCursor(c_pos_1, line_4);               // fourth line
  lcd.print("Sample t= "); lcd.print(sampleTime/1000);
  lcd.setCursor(c_pos_1, line_5);               // fifth line
  lcd.print("Tol= "); lcd.print(tolerance); lcd.print(" kP= "); lcd.print((int)kP);
  lcd.clearDisplay(); // from now on we use write_to_lcd() to display the running data
  // Bleep once to signal the start of the test
  digitalWrite(end_sounder, HIGH);  
  digitalWrite(end_sounder, LOW);

  startMillisec = millis();   // get millisec timestamp for the starting point

void loop(void) {

  // get the data from the INA219
   * This is a very simplified "PID" routine to drive the MOSFET with a
   * PWM value, based on the difference of the set target_mA value and the measured actual_mA
   * current value.
  pid_error = abs(target_mA - current_mA);
  pid_error = (pid_error / target_mA) * 100;
  if ((!end_of_test) && (pid_error > tolerance)) {    // If out of tolerance (deadband to stop 'hunting')
    pid_error = pid_error - offset;                   // Bias (long term error compensation)
    pid_error = (pid_error * kP) / 100;               // 'proportional' factor reduces impact of 'raw' error.
    pid_error = constrain(pid_error, 0.0, 50.0);      // limit to max incremental steps

    if (current_mA > target_mA){
      pid_error = - pid_error;                        // Determine if it's a pos or neg error.
    pwm =  abs(pwm + round(pid_error));
    pwm = constrain(pwm, 0, 8192-1);                  // constrain to 13-bit max
  if (manual) {Serial.println(current_mA);} // so we can plot it with the Arduino Serial Plotter

  /* check if the cell voltage has reached the set cut off voltage
   * and abort the cycle if it has.
   * end_of_test is used to stop further processing.
  if ((!end_of_test) && (loadvoltage < cutoff_voltage)) {
    delay(3000);    // account for a short dip when we start the de-charging process
    readINA219();   // read the values again
    if (loadvoltage < cutoff_voltage) {
      analogWriteFast(pwm_pin, 0);  // turn PWM off.                               
      cutoff_voltage_reached = true;
      target_mA = 0;
      error_code = "Cutoff Voltage";  // display this on line 5 of theLCD
      end_of_test = true;
      if (!manual) {Serial.print("MSGSTTest FinishedMSGEND");} // inform the PC

   * Check if the measured current has overshot the target value
   * by more than 100%. If so, we have a problem so abort.
  if ((!end_of_test) && (current_mA > (target_mA * 2.0))) {
     analogWriteFast(pwm_pin, 0);  // turn PWM off.
     target_mA = 0;
     error_code = "ERROR - Hi mA";  // display this on line 5 of the lcd
     end_of_test = true;
     if (!manual) {Serial.println("MSGSTError - High mAMSGEND");} // inform the PC

  // If the cycle takes too long, terminate it
  if ((!end_of_test) && (tMins > time_limit)) {
    analogWriteFast(pwm_pin, 0);  // turn PWM off.
    timed_out = true;
    target_mA = 0;
    error_code = "ERR-Timed Out"; // display this on line 5 of the lcd
    end_of_test = true; 
    if (!manual) {Serial.print("MSGSTTime ExceededMSGEND");} // inform the PC

  // if Data available on serial port from PC, check for a manual abort
  if (Serial.available() > 0) {
      cancel = Serial.parseInt(); // 999 will calcel the test. 0 will clear Cancel flag

      if (cancel == 999) {        // 999 from the PC means 'Cancel' the test.
        analogWriteFast(pwm_pin, 0);  // turn PWM off.
        target_mA = 0;
        error_code = "CANCELLED"; // display this on line 5 of the lcd
        end_of_test = true;
        if (!manual) {Serial.print("MSGSTUser cancelledMSGEND");} // inform the PC
   * If all is OK, outout the new PWM value to adjust the current.
  if ((cancel == 0) && (!timed_out) && (!high_current) && (!cutoff_voltage_reached) && (!end_of_test)) {
    analogWriteFast(pwm_pin, pwm);  // Adjust the 13-bit PWM to the calculated error correction value.
  else {  // if the process is terminated, sound the beeper, but only once
    if (!sounded) {
      sounded = true;
      for (int i = 0; i< 3; i++) {
        digitalWrite(end_sounder, HIGH);
        digitalWrite(end_sounder, LOW);

   * Calculate the elapsed time and the mAh used each
   * second round the loop.
  // calculate the mAh capacity so far of the cell
  if (millis() > millisCalc_mAh + 1000) {
    float this_hours = (millis() - startMillisec) / (1000.0 * 3600.0);
    mAh_soFar = mAh_soFar + ((this_hours - last_hours) * current_mA);
    last_hours = this_hours; 
    millisCalc_mAh = millis();

  // check if the seriallink to the PC has hung
  if (millis() > millis_PC_wait + sampleTime) {   // If the Sample-to-PC time has
      if (!manual) {write_to_pc();}               // elapsed, send data to the PC
      millis_PC_wait = millis();                  // and reset the elapsed time
  // finally, update the lcd with the fresh values
} // end of loop

 * Get Current and Voltage from Adafruit INA219 breakout board.
 * The INA219 was not originally designed to be used in this kind of an application.
 * It was supposed to help calculate and display the battery capacity for laptops,
 * tablets and phones. In these applications, precision is not really required.
 * In this application, the INA219 current reading, which is very jittery to begin with,
 * is used to drive a MOSFET in the linear region. Thge MOSFET is used as a variable resistor.
 * A very small voltage change (single mVolts) applied to the Gate will result in a quite large
 * current change. This is why I used a 13-bit PWM, to get better resolution.
 * The INA219 readings need to be averaged out a number of times to get reasonably stable values.
void readINA219() {           // Obtain the INA219 readings.
  float R = 0.02;             // "Tweak" this value to compensate for circuit resistance losses.
  float temp_mA = 0.0;
  float temp_V = 0.0;
  float temp_shunt = 0.0;
  shuntvoltage = 0;
  busvoltage = 0;
  current_mA = 0;

  for (int i = 0; i< 10; i++) {               // attempt to pre-filter the readings
    temp_shunt = ina219.getShuntVoltage_mV(); // Voltage accross the shunt in mV.
    shuntvoltage += temp_shunt; // Sum results
  shuntvoltage = shuntvoltage / 10;
  for (int i = 0; i< 10; i++) {          // attempt to pre-filter the readings
    temp_V = ina219.getBusVoltage_V();   // Voltage from INA219 minus to gnd in V
    busvoltage += temp_V; // Sum results
  busvoltage = busvoltage / 10;

  // the readings for the current are very jittery
  for (int i = 0; i< 20; i++) {         // attempt to pre-filter the readings
    temp_mA = ina219.getCurrent_mA();   // Current through the shunt in mA
    current_mA += temp_mA; // Sum results 
  current_mA = current_mA / 20;

  vR = R * current_mA / 1000;                               // Circuit/wire resistance factor
  loadvoltage = busvoltage  + (shuntvoltage/1000) + vR;     // Total cell voltage

 * Write the obtained values to the Nokia 5110 LCD screen.
 * The easiest way is to just erase the screen and build it up before
 * sending it out again.
 * The text for the LCD display is first put into a buffer before it gets transferred to
 * the screen by invoking the display() function.
 * To make the display of numbers in various sizes more pleasing, I took care to
 * position the numbers right-justified. This is the only "complexity" in this code.
void write_to_lcd() {

  // display title and version
  lcd.setCursor(c_pos_1, line_1);   // 1st pos, first line
  lcd.print("Cell Test ");
  lcd.setCursor(c_pos_11, line_1);

  // display cell voltage
  int h_pos;
  if (loadvoltage < 100) h_pos = c_pos_1;
  if (loadvoltage < 10) h_pos = c_pos_2; 
  lcd.print(loadvoltage, 2);            // 2 decimal places

  // display discharge current
  current_mA = int(current_mA);
  if (current_mA >= 1000) h_pos = c_pos_8;
  if (current_mA < 1000) h_pos = c_pos_9;
  if (current_mA < 100) h_pos = c_pos_10;
  if (current_mA < 10) h_pos = c_pos_11;

  // display pwm
  if (pwm < 10000) h_pos = c_pos_1;
  if (pwm < 100) h_pos = c_pos_2;
  if (pwm < 10) h_pos = c_pos_3;
  lcd.setCursor(c_pos_5, line_3);

  // display pid error
  h_pos = c_pos_10;
  if (pid_error < 0) h_pos = c_pos_9; // if negative, create room
  lcd.setCursor(h_pos, line_3);
  if (pid_error >= 1000) {
     lcd.print((int) pid_error); // no room for decimals
    lcd.print(pid_error, 1);    // 1 decimal

  // display current mAh value
  if (mAh_soFar >= 1000) h_pos = c_pos_1;
  if (mAh_soFar < 1000) h_pos = c_pos_2;
  if (mAh_soFar < 100) h_pos = c_pos_3;
  if (mAh_soFar < 10) h_pos = c_pos_4;
  lcd.setCursor(h_pos, line_4);
  lcd.setCursor(c_pos_5,line_4);       // 1st pos, 3rd line 

  // display running time
  if (hours < 10){
    lcd.setCursor(c_pos_10, line_4);       //13th pos, 3rd line
    lcd.setCursor(c_pos_9, line_4);       //12th pos, 3rd line
  lcd.print((int) hours);
  lcd.setCursor(c_pos_11, line_4);       //12th pos, 3rd line
    if (mins < 10){
      lcd.setCursor(c_pos_12, line_4);
      lcd.print(0);             // filling "0"
      lcd.setCursor(c_pos_13, line_4);   //14th pos, 3rd line
    lcd.setCursor(c_pos_12, line_4);     //13th pos, 3rd line
  lcd.print((int) mins);

  lcd.setCursor(c_pos_1, line_5);         //first pos, 5th line

 * Send values to the PC
 * Formatting of the time elapsed to the PC is done at this end as it's easier than
 * having to parse/unparse the string twice at both ends.
 * Values with a decimal can cause issues depending on the region setting of the PC.
 * English regions use the "." for decimals, other countries use the ",".
 * The PC program does not handle the current_mA properly, that's why we're simply
 * sending this value as an integer. We don't need this precision, problem solved.
void write_to_pc(){
  Serial.print("STARTT"); Serial.print((int) hours); Serial.print(":");
  if (mins < 10) Serial.print("0"); Serial.print(mins); Serial.print(":");
  if (secs < 10) Serial.print("0"); Serial.print(secs); Serial.println("ENDT");
  // Send mAh used so far, this sample's current and voltage to the PC
  Serial.print("STARTMAH"); Serial.print(mAh_soFar); Serial.println("ENDMAH");
  Serial.print("GRAPHCS"); Serial.print((int)current_mA); Serial.println("GRAPHCEND");
  Serial.print("GRAPHVS");  Serial.print(loadvoltage); Serial.println("GRAPHVEND");
  Serial.flush();        // Flush serial port before it returns to the main loop.

 * Generic routine to calculate hours, minutes and seconds between two millis() values.
void getTime() {        
 unsigned long milli =  millis() - startMillisec;

 secs = milli /1000;
 mins = secs / 60;
 hours = mins / 60;
 tMins = mins;     // update the measurement duration timer  hours = hours % 24;
 mins = mins % 60;
 secs = secs % 60;


  1. I've always wanted a device like the one you built, and I'd like to make one myself. can you post the electrical diagram?

  2. The diagram is listed on the website from John. The link is at the very top of this post. The difference in connections is listen in the text and in the source code.