It is quite clear that the I2C bus can be very confusing for the newcomer. This short article therefore tries to de-mystify the I2C bus, I hope it doesn't have the opposite effect!
|The physical I2C bus|
The value of the resistors is not critical. I have seen anything from 1k8 (1800 ohms) to 47k (47000 ohms) used. 1k8, 4k7 and 10k are common values, but anything in this range should work OK. I recommend 1k8 as this gives you the best performance. If the resistors are missing, the SCL and SDA lines will always be low - nearly 0 volts - and the I2C bus will not work.
|Masters and Slaves|
|The I2C Physical Protocol|
Data is transferred in sequences of 8 bits. The bits are placed on the SDA line starting with the MSB (Most Significant Bit). The SCL line is then pulsed high, then low. Remember that the chip cannot really drive the line high, it simply "lets go" of it and the resistor actually pulls it high. For every 8 bits transferred, the device receiving the data sends back an acknowledge bit, so there are actually 9 SCL clock pulses to transfer each 8 bit byte of data. If the receiving device sends back a low ACK bit, then it has received the data and is ready to accept another byte. If it sends back a high then it is indicating it cannot accept any further data and the master should terminate the transfer by sending a stop sequence.
The standard clock (SCL) speed for I2C up to 100KHz. Philips do define faster speeds: Fast mode, which is up to 400KHz and High Speed mode which is up to 3.4MHz. All of our modules are designed to work at up to 100KHz. We have tested our modules up to 1MHz but this needs a small delay of a few uS between each byte transferred. In practical robots, we have never had any need to use high SCL speeds. Keep SCL at or below 100KHz and then forget about it.
|I2C Device Addressing|
The placement of the 7 bit address in the upper 7 bits of the byte is a source of confusion for the newcomer. It means that to write to address 21, you must actually send out 42 which is 21 moved over by 1 bit. It is probably easier to think of the I2C bus addresses as 8 bit addresses, with even addresses as write only, and the odd addresses as the read address for the same device. To take our CMPS03 for example, this is at address 0xC0 ($C0). You would uses 0xC0 to write to the CMPS03 and 0xC1 to read from it. So the read/write bit just makes it an odd/even address.
|The I2C Software Protocol|
The first thing that will happen is that the master will send out a start sequence. This will alert all the slave devices on the bus that a transaction is starting and they should listen in incase it is for them. Next the master will send out the device address. The slave that matches this address will continue with the transaction, any others will ignore the rest of this transaction and wait for the next. Having addressed the slave device the master must now send out the internal location or register number inside the slave that it wishes to write to or read from. This number is obviously dependant on what the slave actually is and how many internal registers it has. Some very simple devices do not have any, but most do, including all of our modules. Our CMPS03 has 16 locations numbered 0-15. The SRF08 has 36. Having sent the I2C address and the internal register address the master can now send the data byte (or bytes, it doesn't have to be just one). The master can continue to send data bytes to the slave and these will normally be placed in the following registers because the slave will automatically increment the internal register address after each byte. When the master has finished writing all data to the slave, it sends a stop sequence which completes the transaction. So to write to a slave device:
1. Send a start sequence
2. Send the I2C address of the slave with the R/W bit low (even address)
3. Send the internal register number you want to write to
4. Send the data byte
5. [Optionally, send any further data bytes]
6. Send the stop sequence.
As an example, you have an SRF08 at the factory default address of 0xE0. To start the SRF08 ranging you would write 0x51 to the command register at 0x00 like this:
1. Send a start sequence
2. Send 0xE0 ( I2C address of the SRF08 with the R/W bit low (even address)
3. Send 0x00 (Internal address of the command register)
4. Send 0x51 (The command to start the SRF08 ranging)
5. Send the stop sequence.
|Reading from the Slave|
This is a little more complicated - but not too much more. Before reading data from the slave device, you must tell it which of its internal addresses you want to read. So a read of the slave actually starts off by writing to it. This is the same as when you want to write to it: You send the start sequence, the I2C address of the slave with the R/W bit low (even address) and the internal register number you want to write to. Now you send another start sequence (sometimes called a restart) and the I2C address again - this time with the read bit set. You then read as many data bytes as you wish and terminate the transaction with a stop sequence. So to read the compass bearing as a byte from the CMPS03 module:
1. Send a start sequence
2. Send 0xC0 ( I2C address of the CMPS03 with the R/W bit low (even address)
3. Send 0x01 (Internal address of the bearing register)
4. Send a start sequence again (repeated start)
5. Send 0xC1 ( I2C address of the CMPS03 with the R/W bit high (odd address)
6. Read data byte from CMPS03
7. Send the stop sequence.
The bit sequence will look like this:
|Wait a Moment|
Sometimes however, the master I2C is just a collection of subroutines and there are a few implementations out there that completely ignore clock stretching. They work with things like EEPROM's but not with microprocessor slaves that use clock stretching. The result is that erroneous data is read from the slave. Beware!