unsigned int VoltLimitMin = 122; /* 3.30 Volts */
unsigned int VoltLimitMax = 179; /* 5.10 Volts */
unsigned int VoltLimitTrip = 205; /* 5.55 Volts */
The purpose of this code is to set min, max, and emergency shutdown thresholds for voltage coming from some A/D converter. The programmer has manually converted the voltage value to the number of A/D integer steps that corresponds to. (Similar code might be used to express time in terms of timer ticks as well.) Do you see the bug in the above code? Would you have noticed if I hadn't told you a bug was there?
Here is a way to save some trouble and get rid of that type of bug. First, figure out how many steps there are per unit that you care about, such as:
// A/D converter has 37 steps per Volt ( 37 = 1 Volt, 74 = 2 Volts, etc.)
#define UNITS_PER_VOLT 37
then, create a macro that does the conversion such as:
#define VOLTS(v) ((unsigned int) (((v)*UNITS_PER_VOLT)+.5))
Here is an example to explain how that works. If you say VOLTS(3.30) then "v" in the macro is 3.30. It gets multiplied by 37 to give 122.1. Adding 0.5 lets it round to nearest positive integer, and the "(int)" ensures that the compiler knows you want it to be an unsigned integer result instead of a floating point number.
Then you can use:
unsigned int VoltLimitMin = VOLTS(3.30);
unsigned int VoltLimitMax = VOLTS(5.10);
unsigned int VoltLimitTrip = VOLTS(5.55);
Because the macros are expanded in-line by the preprocessor, most compilers are able to compile exactly the same code as if you had hand-computed the number (i.e., they compile to a constant integer value). So this macro shouldn't cost you anything at run time, but will remove the risk of for hand computation bugs or someone forgetting to update comments if the integer value is changed. Give it a try with your favorite compiler and see how it works.
- The rounding trick of adding 0.5 only works with non-negative numbers.Usually A/D converters output non-negative integers so this trick usually works.
- This may not work on all compilers, but it works on all the ones I've tried on various microcontroller architectures. I saw one compiler do the float-to-int conversion at run-time if I left out the "(unsigned int)" in the macro, so make sure you put it in. Do a disassembly on your code to make sure it is working for you.
- The "const" keyword available in some compilers can optimize things even further and possibly avoid the need for a macro if your compiler is smart enough, but I'll leave that up to you to play with if you use this trick in a real program.
- As mentioned by one of the comments, you might also check for overflow with an ASSERT.