Game timer

A low power, PIC microcontroller based 30 & 60 Second timer

Current Satus: Complete
Date:               30th December 1999
License:         Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License

30/60 second microntroller based timer by Ian Stedman is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.


This system was designed to meet a number of needs:

  • Low cost
  • Easy to use
  • Audbile indication of time expiry
  • Visual indication of timer in use/time up.
  • Low power consumption with all of these in mind I set about designing the system.
    Note; as of February 2022, this design is still in use.

Design notes

To make the unit easy to use, it was intended to be handheld and operate from a PP3 battery. But using a 9V battery meant that a voltage regulator was needed. The standard 3 pin regulator, the 7805, was fine except for one thing, the standby current of 5mA!

Searching through Maplin I found the Holtek HT 1050 Low dropout regulator. This had a standby current of 3.5 uA. The maximum current available was 30 mA at 5V and it will still supply 5 volts with a terminal voltage of 5.1V due to the 100mV dropout voltage.

The 30mA current limit and the 5 uA quiescent supply helped in achieving the Low power consumption figures. The other bonus is that the PIC used in the system will only draw 25uA when in Standby mode. The 30mA max current meant that it was necessary to find an audible device that did not draw too much current. again a suitable buzzer was found from Maplin, drawing 20 mA.

 By referring to the datasheets for the PIC 16F84 I noticed that it was possible to make the PIC sleep easily and awake on a keypress. Either by triggering a change on PORT B 4-7 the devices leaves it’s low power standby mode. As the system had a low standby power, only 3 buttons were fitted to the unit, one for selecting a 30 second delay, 1 for 60 second delay and one for Reset. see the software listing for some more info.

The Circuit diagram

Bill of materials
Most of the original Maplin order codes have since been discontinued. So some of them have been replaced with parts from Spiratronics

DescriptionMaplin/Spiratronics Part No.Price £
PIC 16F84YD4-1493.89
HT 1050 Voltage regulator0.79
6V Mini buzzerFL39N1.99
455 KHz ceramic resonatorUL61R0.79
LED  (GREEN & YELLOW)NP01B & NP05F0.10 each
Sub-Min push to make switchFH59P & ND91Y0.59 each
Capacitors, as shownMany0.10 each
Resistors as shownMany0.04 each
Box for circuitKC95D3.99
Total Cost (from Maplin)£13.40

The software

The assembler source and the Intel 8HX hex file are available.

The software is quite straight forward. I will outline the principle of operation below.

  1. Setup the hardware
  2. Goto sleep/standby mode.
  3. On a keypress, wake up and determine what key was pressed.
  4. Go through the delay routine.
  5. Sound buzzer at end of time
  6. Sleep (goto stage 2)

A few features,

  1. If you try to press both buttons at once, the buzzer chirps.
  2. When there are 5 seconds remaining, the time indicator LED will flash.
  3. The buzzer will sound for 15 seconds, then turn off. The PIC goes into sleep mode.

Pressing the RESET button silences the buzzer and puts the device into sleep mode.

Prototype design

A picture of the prototype, that has been in use since early 2000