Blink LEDs with millis()

Step 1 - Build the Project

This code avoids delays and instead uses a timer built into the Arduino software called millis(). Millis() starts running when a program starts and continues to count up every millisecond the program is running. Here you make use of it by comparing a variable to the millis() count.

Step 2 - Upload the Code

/*Using millis(), a built-in timer, you can blink LEDs *on different time cycles without delays. */ unsigned long timerOne = 0; //variable to subtract from millis() unsigned long timerTwo = 0; void setup() { pinMode(13, OUTPUT); pinMode(11, OUTPUT); } void loop() { //Pin 11 turns off every 3.5 seconds if (millis() - timerOne > 3500) { digitalWrite(11, LOW); timerOne = millis(); //setting "timer = millis" makes millis-timer = 0 } //Pin 11 turns on every second else if (millis() - timerOne > 1000) { digitalWrite(11, HIGH); } //Pin 13 turns off every three seconds if (millis() - timerTwo > 3000) { digitalWrite(13, LOW); timerTwo = millis(); } //Pin 13 turns on every two seconds else if (millis() - timerTwo > 2000) { digitalWrite(13, HIGH); } } // Try adding another timer and LED to get 3 LEDs blinking without delay // Don't forget the LED needs to be an output in the void setup() // Need help? // (c) 2016 Let's Start Coding. License:

Step 3 - Read the Walkthrough

The first check in the code is “Is millis() - 0 > 3500?”. This is asking, in effect, “Has it been more than 3.5 seconds since the top of the loop?”. If it has, then you want to run the code inside the loop. Otherwise, the code moves on.

We can’t change the value of millis(), but we can control the value of the variables. Within each ‘if’ loop, you reset the timers to the value of millis() (which is always streaming upward). Because the values are equal, the difference if you subtract them from each other is 0. Millis() will continue to rise, however, while the variable keeps its value until you update it again.

Continually checking this timer can be tricky, but it allows you to control one process while another keeps occurring in the background.