Digital tachometer using 8051

Contactless digital tachometer using 8051.

A three digit contact less digital tachometer using 8051 microcontroller which can be used for measuring the revolutions/second of a rotating wheel, disc, shaft or anything like that is introduced in this project. The tachometer  can measure up to a maximum of 255 rev/sec at an accuracy of 1 rev/sec. What you just need to do is to align the sensor close to the reflective strip  (aluminium foil, white paper or some thing like that) glued on the rotating surface and the meter shows the rev/sec on the display. The circuit diagram of the digital tachometer is shown below.

Digital tachometer using 8051

The first section of the circuit is the optical pickup based on photo transistor Q4 and red LED D4. Every time the reflective stripe  on the rotating object passes in front of  the sensor assembly, the reflected light falls on the photo transistor which makes it conduct more and as a result  its collector voltage drops towards zero. When viewed through an oscilloscope the collector waveform of the photo transistor Q4 (2N5777) would look like this:

optical pick up outputNext part is the signal conditioning unit based on the opamp LM324 (IC1). Only one opamp inside the quad LM324 is used here and it is wired as a comparator with reference voltage set at 3.5V (using resistors  R16 and R17). The job of this comparator unit is to convert the spiky collector wave form into a neat square pulse train so that it can be applied to the microcontroller. Every time the collector voltage of the photo transistor goes below 3.5V, the output of the comparator goes to negative saturation and every time the collector voltage of the photo transistor goes above 3.5V, the comparator output goes to positive saturation resulting in a waveform like this:

         tachometer optical pickup output

From the above two graphs you can see that the negative going edge of the waveform indicates the passage of the reflective patch across the sensor and that means one revolution. If you could some how measure the number of negative going edges occurring in one second, then that’s the rev/sec of the rotating object and that’s what the microcontroller does here.

The 8051 microcontroller here does two jobs and they are:

1)  Count the number of negative going pulses available at its T1 pin (pin15).

2) Do necessary mathematics and display the count on the 3 digit 7 segment display.

For the counting purpose both the timers of 8051 (Timer0 and Timer1) are used. Timer 1 is configured as an 8 bit auto reload counter for registering the number of incoming zero going pulses and Timer0 is configured as a 16 bit timer which generate the necessary 1 second time span for the Timer1 to count.


ORG 000H
MOV DPTR,#LUT              // moves the addres of LUT to DPTR
MOV P1,#00000000B          // Sets P1 as an output port
MOV P0,#00000000B          // Sets P0 as an output port
      SETB P3.5
      MOV TMOD,#01100001B  // Sets Timer1 as Mode2 counter & Timer0 as Mode1 timer
      MOV TL1,#00000000B   //loads initial value to TL1
      MOV TH1,#00000000B   //loads initial value to TH1
      SETB TR1             // starts timer(counter) 1
BACK: MOV TH0,#00000000B   //loads initial value to TH0
      MOV TL0,#00000000B   //loads initial value to TL0
      SETB TR0             //starts timer 0
HERE: JNB TF0,HERE         // checks for Timer 0 roll over
      CLR TR0              // stops Timer0
      CLR TF0              // clears Timer Flag 0
      DJNZ R6,BACK
      CLR TR1              // stops Timer(counter)1
      CLR TF0              // clears Timer Flag 0
      CLR TF1              // clears Timer Flag 1
      ACALL DLOOP          // Calls subroutine DLOOP for displaying the count
      SJMP MAIN            // jumps back to the main loop
BACK1: MOV A,TL1           // loads the current count to the accumulator
       MOV B,#100D
       DIV AB              // isolates the first digit of the count
       SETB P1.0
       ACALL DISPLAY       // converts the 1st digit to 7 seg pattern
       MOV P0,A            // puts the pattern to Port 0
       ACALL DELAY         // 1mS delay
       MOV A,B
       MOV B,#10D
       DIV AB              // isolates the secong digit of the count
       CLR P1.0
       SETB P1.1
       ACALL DISPLAY       // converts the 2nd digit to 7 seg pattern
       MOV P0,A
       MOV A,B             // moves the last digit of the count to accumulator
       CLR P1.1
       SETB P1.2
       ACALL DISPLAY       // converts the 3rd digit to 7 seg pattern
       MOV P0,A
       CLR P1.2
       DJNZ R5,BACK1       // repeats the subroutine DLOOP 100 times

DELAY: MOV R7,#250D        // 1mS delay

DISPLAY: MOVC A,@A+DPTR    // gets 7 seg digit drive pattern for current value in A
         CPL A             //  (See Note 1)
LUT: DB 3FH                // Look up table (LUT) starts here
     DB 06H
     DB 5BH
     DB 4FH
     DB 66H
     DB 6DH
     DB 7DH
     DB 07H
     DB 7FH
     DB 6FH


1) The LUT used here was made for a common cathode seven segment display (used in previous projects) and here we are using a common anode display. The instruction CPL A will just complement the digit drive pattern in accumulator so that it becomes suitable for the common anode display. This is done just because to save my time but not a text book method. The correct way is to make a dedicated LUT for common anode configuration and aviod the extra CPL A instruction.

2) LM324 is a quad opamp and only one opamp inside it is used here. I used LM324 just because that was the only single supply opamp with me at the time. You can use any single supply opamp that matches our supply voltage(5V). You can even use a dual supply opamp (like the popular 741) in single supply mode (+V pin connected to positive supply and -V pin connected to ground) but i wont recommend it unless you have an oscilloscope. Dual supply opamps configured in single supply mode will not give results like a dedicated single supply opamp in the same situation.

3) As we saw earlier the Timer 0 which generates the 1 second time span is configured in Mode 1 (16 bit timer). So the maximum it can count is 2^16 and that is 65536. In 8051 the crystal frequency is divided by 12 using an internal network before applying it as a clock for the timer. That means the timer will increment by one for every 1/12th of the crystal frequency. For an 8051 system clocked with a 12MHz crystal the time taken for one timer increment will be 1µS (ie; 1/12MHz). So the maximum time delay that can be obtained using one session of the timer will be 65536µS and it is looped 14 times to get the 1 second delay. Go through this article Delay using 8051 timer for a better grasp.

4) Also read this article Interfacing seven segment display to 8051 before attempting this project.

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24 Responses to “Digital tachometer using 8051”

  • Kristian says:


    I’ve got this working and it’s really great but I would like to know if it is possible to have the 7 segment displays to display the speed constantly on rather than them to be flashing.

  • Rohit says:

    I want to ask whether the mechanism in this project counts the pulses for 60 seconds and then display it (if so then how to configure 8051 to delay time for 60 sec and at the same time count the pulses in that duration?) or it measures the speed instantaneously and also displays instantaneously (sorry if the question seems to be silly i am at very beginning with learning microcontrollers)

  • siva says:

    please send me a program .hex file to my mail ID for “Digital
    tachometer using 8051” please

  • Deven karani says:

    If possible would u please furnish me with the PCB layout of the circuit of tachometer using 8051 given.
    I’m looking forward to realize the circuit provided and therefore would be easier for me to move ahead with the project if the layout is available with you.
    Thank you

  • opa says:

    hi , i have a trouble with the timer.. i don’t really know whether my circuit works or not. my project is to connect this project to LCD 16×2..
    i can send you my circuit and my code in .rar so can you help me?


  • Aniket rajshe says:

    I have a problem in the optical pick up assembly. i am not getting the pulse at output of lm324. plz refer me how can i get the continuous pulse at the output or give me another method for this…
    Aniket Rakshe
    Mo. 9503305658

  • Venkiteswaran T.K. says:

    This is for my study and teaching the 8051 program how to srite

    Thanks a lot for the Originators.

  • Shankar Das says:

    What is the use of burner circuit of 8051 microcontroller in this device?

    please reply.

  • Raphael Muhoro says:

    Hae there,i want to make the tracometer but a few things are troubling me.namely:
    -what programing language have you used to program the microcontroller
    -about the dispaly,how do i know the terminals,i mean which is which
    -Where do i buy Ic2
    -can you give me an alternative proggram for an arduino board with respective connection?

  • Eliseo Ruiz says:

    Which must to be the distance between the RED LIGHT and the Phototransistor? if I wish to send the light acroos a hole directly

  • Eliseo Ruiz says:

    I’d like to install a disk and to do a small hole in the disk (It is for get the speed in a small lathe).- The disk will be installed in the Lathe’s shaft and in the back the Red Light.- I wish to have an idea about the distance between the Photo- Transistor and the light.- The second thing is about the color of the Led (RED) is it in relation with the frequency of the Red Light?
    Thank you for all.- I finished a course of 8051 and I wish to practice with the device in order to get experience in program it.- This information help spo much to people like us

  • vespa says:

    can i use at89c51 instead of at89s51 ?..what the differences?…tq :)

  • bigabbs says:

    yesterday I asked if you supplied this instrument in kit form with the shaft sensor as well can you let me know please on my e mail address



  • Mayur says:

    Plz. Can you feed me thw same circuit with high sensitivity .

  • sandesh says:

    I didn’t got How will you seperate a number in the count by dividing it
    by 100,10 etc…
    Can u explain me How.

  • priya says:

    nice project I like to try this I hav an ISP programmer kit but I dont hav serial port in my pc what can I do is there any alternative idea

  • Jorge Melendez says:

    Excellent job. Just one question. What you use to program the 8051? Any special interface cable? Thanks.

    • admin says:

      I use an In system programmer (ISP) module for programming the 8051. The user interface for programming the microcontroller comes with the ISP module. The module is connected to the PC through serial port. For creating hex file I use MIDE-51 compiler.

  • msdava says:

    süpper good circuit

  • Vinay Parmar says:

    Dear Sir,
    Kindly provide C code for better understanding.
    Vinay Parmar
    Baroda – Gujarat
    ph:+91 9427352904