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12F675 Tutorial 2 : Switch debounce

This 12F675 microcontroller switch debounce tutorial shows you how to read keys at a microcontroller port and how to debounce a switch for reliable switch detection.

Jump to Solderless breadboard.
Jump to Circuit diagram.
Jump to Software.

A safe story

We bought a small safe, not to store gold bullion in but to store my wife's medicines in - having a curious three year old and needing access to the medicines required it.  

I could not believe it when I entered in an access code that virtually every time I hit a key - the key bounced i.e. there were multiple key presses for every single key press unless I hit the keys very precisely and quickly - They were obviously in a hurry when they designed it.  

When this happened the safe sat there bleeping for one minute - very annoying.

This is a example of why switch debounce is important and the designer of the electronics obviously had no idea about it.  I even opened it up - it had an atmel microcontroller inside so they could have easily got rid of the switch bounce problem.  One day I'll have to change it (using a PIC Micro of course) we just use the key now! 

Switch debounce : What is it ?

When a switch is pressed it does not fully close the first time you press it because the metal contacts bounce off each other!  

Feeding the signal into a logic gate or a microcontroller sends multiple key press signals which is not what you want so you have to ignore the bouncing signal - this is known as debouncing the switch.

The basic switch debounce microcontroller solution is:
  • Detect the 1st button press (or the 1st of many bounces!).
  • Wait for a while.
  • Check the switch again to see if it is still presed.
Note: Because each switch is constructed differently the characteristics of the key bounce will be different so you need to characterize different switches and assess how long the bounce lasts 400us, 800us or longer? (or just use a long delay).

The switch debounce solution

The solution in all cases is time - you have to wait until the bouncing has stopped.  You either use a debouncing circuit or use software to wait for a period after the bouncing has stopped.  

The most common discrete switch debouncing circuit is a resistor and capacitor pair which slows the input signal feeding into a logic gate (charging the capacitor when the switch is closed) - in this case the gate must have hysteresis so that it reacts correctly otherwise it could oscillate anyway.  

When using a microcontroller the best way is to use software to debounce the switch as the microcontroller can easily wait a set time period before deciding that the switch value is valid.  You can also change the time period and do not need extra components.

Solderless breadboard

Add the switch and pull up resistor and then program the chip using the the hex file.

12F675 switch debounce

Learn about the tool used for creating this diagram.

Circuit diagram

Again the switch debouncecircuit is easier to see on the schematic.

switch debounce circuit diagram

Learn about the tool used for creating this diagram.


The program simply turns on the LED when the button is pressed but the button is debounced.

Source code files :
To get the file software project files and c source code click here.

Note: Initially at power up the led is flashed on and off 6 times to show the microcontroller is active.

Input button (switch) port direction

Note how init_ports() sets up the port direction for bit five of the port as an input (setting bit 5 high) using the TRISIO register all the others remain as outputs.

Switch debounce

The code that does the debouncing is shown below get_key(). It returns zero for failure and 1 if the key was ok.

First of all it simply tests the key state to make sure that the key is pressed (low input in this circuit) and if not it returns 0.

Then it waits for 1 millisecond to let the bouncing stop to (this time delay can be changed depending on the characteristics of the switch i.e. to get the correct switch debounce action).

Then the key is checked again -
if the key state has changed then it returns 0.  If it has not changed then the key has been held in a low state and is in the same state as first test - it is a valid key press so the routine returns 1.  

The following code is part of switch debounce source code:
void init_ports(void) {
   TRISIO = (1<<5); // set as output except bit 5 GP5=i/p

int get_key(void) {

   // Is GP5 low - no so exit
   if (GPIO & (1<<5)) return 0; // no key yet

   delay_ms(1); // wait for key to settle

   // Is GP5 high ? yes so exit = false key.
   if ( (GPIO & (1<<5))>0 ) return 0; // was a false key so restart

   return 1; // key ok so return valid

Basically for the switch debounce procedure you test a key, wait a while and re-test - if the result is the same then it was a valid key.

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