Introduction: Beginning Arduino: Delay Without Delay(), Multiple Times

A while back I did an instructable where I used millis() instead of delay() to demonstrate how to time an event and do something else at the same time. This is not possible when using delay() because it stops the program from doing anything during the delay. Two people have asked for an instructable using multiple timed events with different lengths running at the same time. So here it is.

There are four LEDs attached to four digital pins. Each has a timed interval two times greater than the previous LED to create a binary counter.

This is also part of my Beginning Arduino collection, available here:

Step 1: LED and Resistor

This is optional, but I found that having a bunch of these made up makes breadboarding a lot easier.

Solder a resistor to the cathode lead of some LEDs. The cathode lead is the shorter negative (ground) lead. 270 - 560 ohms works good for on the RaspberryPi, for an Arduino use 330 - 680 ohm resistors.

I usually make them with 470 - 560 ohm resistors so they will work with both.

Step 2: Build the Circuit

Build the circuit as shown in the diagram above.

Step 3: The Code

Copy this code into the Arduino IDE and upload it to your Arduino:

 * Demonstration using millis() instead of delay() so 
 * another activity can happen within the delay.
 * The anode of four LEDs are connected to pins 2 - 5.
 * The cathodes are connected to ground through resistors.
 * LEDs are timed to make a binary counter.

unsigned long time[4];                //Holds time for each LED.

int pin[8] = {};               //Pin numbers for LEDs.
int toggle[8] = {0,0,0,0};            //Toggles for LEDs. (0 or 1)

 * setup() function
void setup()
  for(int i=0;i<4;i++)
    pinMode(pin[i], OUTPUT);         //Set LED pins as output.
    digitalWrite(pin[i], LOW);       //All LEDs are off at start.
    time[i] = millis();              //Start timers for all LEDs.

 * loop() function
void loop()
  int interval[4]={1000,2000,4000,8000};

  for(int i=0;i<4;i++)                  //For each LED in turn.
    if(millis()-time[i] > interval[i])  //Has time passed interval?
      toggle[i] = !toggle[i];           //If so not toggle,
      time[i] = millis();               //reset time,
      digitalWrite(pin[i], toggle[i]);  //and toggle LED,


JRV31 made it!(author)2015-11-04

Thank you Rob Brammeld for posting a link to this instructable at

JRV31 made it!(author)2015-11-02

Thank you KTELL KTELLI for posting a link to this instructable on

jumbuck68 made it!(author)2015-08-08

I don't understand what is happening when you set toggle[i]=!toggle[i]

JRV31 made it!(author)2015-08-08

The "!" means not.

I'm saying toggle equals not toggle.

So if toggle equals one it is changed to zero.

If it is zero it's changed to one.

About This Instructable




Bio: Most of my instructables will be tutorials for Atmel microcontrollers, Arduino, or Raspberrypi. I try to show concepts that you can use in your own ... More »
More by JRV31:MoonLight7400 Quad Nand Gate SimulationRaspberryPi: set-up WIFI in Jessie-Lite
Add instructable to: