Introduction: 3 Axis Arduino Accelerometer / Inclinometer (Tilt / Roll / Yaw)

About: Professionally, I'm an IT Engineer (Executive Level) and Electronics Tech. I'm a Amateur Radio Operator (KK4HFJ). I lived off grid, with Solar (PV), Wind, and veggie oil fueled diesel generator power for 6 yea…

From the minds at

Years ago I saw a neat dash gadget for a Jeep that had two pictures of a Jeep on the unit. As you drove, the two pictures would move, showing tilt and roll angles, with the idea it would help prevent you from tipping over when driving off road.

I received a BMA180 Accelerometer, and decided to build an Arduino version, maybe eventually displaying graphics on a LCD screen. For now I want to get the unit talking to the Arduino, displaying G forces in 3 dimensions:

Tilt (front to back, or X)
Roll (side to side, or Y)
Yaw (pivoting as in a skid, or Z)

Step 1: Connecting the Breakout Board

Connect the breakout board as diagrammed. Although the BMA180 requires a 3.3v input, the TWI interface (SCK/SDI) is 5v logic tolerant.

Step 2: The Code!

I then uploaded the following code from

//BMA180 triple axis accelerometer sample code//
#include <wire.h>
#define BMA180 0x40 //address of the accelerometer
#define RESET 0x10
#define PWR 0x0D
#define BW 0X20
#define RANGE 0X35
#define DATA 0x02
int offx = 31;
int offy = 47;
int offz = -23;
void setup()
Serial.println("Demo started, initializing sensors");
Serial.println("Sensors have been initialized");
void AccelerometerInit()
byte temp[1];
byte temp1;
//wake up mode
// low pass filter,
readFrom(BMA180, BW,1,temp);
writeTo(BMA180, BW, temp1);
// range +/- 2g
readFrom(BMA180, RANGE, 1 ,temp);
temp1=(temp[0]&0xF1) | 0x04;
void AccelerometerRead()
// read in the 3 axis data, each one is 14 bits
// print the data to terminal
int n=6;
byte result[5];
readFrom(BMA180, DATA, n , result);

int x= (( result[0] | result[1]<<8>>2)+offx ;
float x1=x/4096.0;
int y= (( result[2] | result[3]<<8>>2)+offy;
float y1=y/4096.0;
int z= (( result[4] | result[5]<<8>>2)+offz;
float z1=z/4096.0;
void loop()
delay(300); // slow down output
//---------------- Functions--------------------
//Writes val to address register on ACC
void writeTo(int DEVICE, byte address, byte val)
Wire.beginTransmission(DEVICE); //start transmission to ACC
Wire.write(address); //send register address
Wire.write(val); //send value to write
Wire.endTransmission(); //end trnsmisson
//reads num bytes starting from address register in to buff array
void readFrom(int DEVICE, byte address , int num ,byte buff[])
Wire.beginTransmission(DEVICE); //start transmission to ACC
Wire.write(address); //send reguster address
Wire.endTransmission(); //end transmission

Wire.beginTransmission(DEVICE); //start transmission to ACC
Wire.requestFrom(DEVICE,num); //request 6 bits from ACC

int i=0;
while(Wire.available()) //ACC may abnormal
buff[i]; //receive a byte
Wire.endTransmission(); //end transmission

Step 3: Output

As I move the sensor through the X, Y, and Z axis, the serial monitor shows the changing g forces for each axis. Next update will be to show actual angles on a LCD.

Step 4: Future Changes

My next ideas are to display angles for pitch and yaw & roll on an LCD screen, then design graphics showing the vehicle actively in those positions on a graphical LCD. I have not had a chance to try the angle conversion, but look at and if that works for you, please let me know!