In a small Investigation, Noser Engineering explored the possibilities of using an Arduino embedded platform to host a HTTP-Service in order to interact with a remote system. The Webserver shall be able to read Files from an SD-Card and send them to the client. The default index.htm-Page shall enable the presentation of live information and manipulation options of the used IO pins.
For the implementation an Arduino Ethernet Board R3 and an off-the-shelf SD card were used. For IO an LED was connected to digital/PWM output 6 and a potentiometer was connected to analog input 0. The LED shall blink in a defined frequency and a defined brightness. The brightness is set over a corresponding PWM percentage by the potentiometer. The frequency can be modified using the web interface.
The server software was not implemented using the Arduino IDE and .ino sketches, but the Arduino Core Library as well as the Ethernet, SPI and SD Library have been ported for C++ development with Eclipse as described in the Arduino and Eclipse Tutorial. When the non-core libraries are linked, the linking order is crucial for successful builds, due to dependencies. This order seems to work well, while other orders did not link correctly:
-lArduinoEthernet -lArduinoSD -lArduinoSPI –lArduinoCore –lm
For SD file access the existing Arduino SD Library has been chosen and as basis for the webserver the Webduino framework was used. Therefore the following headers and global definitions are needed
First the usual stuff is initialized during setup(). In order to have this run correctly, the correct output pin has to be selected for the SD SPI access. As the whole program is on the edge of the Arduino Ethernet’s capability, you can save about 4-5kB of program memory (and some SRAM as well), when the Arduino is equipped with a fixed IP address instead of calling the DHCP routines. After the network has been initialized the request handlers are linked to the server object and the server is started. Finally, the interrupt frequency is defined.
For SD file access the existing Arduino SD Library has been chosen and as basis for the webserver the Webduino framework was used. Therefore the following headers and global definitions are needed:
Interrupt Service Routine
For the blinking LED an interrupt service routine (ISR) is defined, such that the blinking frequency is always correct and not infringed by e.g. heavy loads on the Ethernet communication. The period length dt is used for logging/user output purposes, otherwise the ISR itself is rather simple and straight forward.
Main Loop Function
During the main loop function loop(), the analogue input value from the potentiometer is read and mapped to the corresponding PWM value, as well as the HTTP request processing is generally handled by the function provided by Webduino.
Http Request processing
For the actual output of the data, to handling functions are linked to the server. HttpIndexCmd() is called when the index page is requested, HttpDataCmd() is called by requests to the “file” data.xml, which is generated by the server based on the IO data and not read from SD card. For all other requests, HttpDefaultCmd() is called.
The data response function first processes POST calls and then generates the response XML (for both GET and POST requests). In the POST processing, firstly the parameters are read individually and then compared against the known commands. In this case “F_blink” is the only known command. It resets the interrupt timer to match the new blinking frequency.
During the XML generation, alternatingly mark-up and data is written to the client, after a corresponding HTTP header is sent.
If any other resource is called, the function HttpDefaultCmd() first generates the full path and filename to the corresponding resource on the SD card, and then hands this path over to the helper function. In order to create the full path first the number of items (subdirectories plus file name) in the URL is counted and then a string to be filled with the full URL is initialized with the prefix, which corresponds to the directory in the SD Card, where the accessible files are stored. (In this case “www/”). Then the full URL is generated by reading all URL items. If the last item is empty, this means that a directory was requested, and therefore “index.htm” is appended to the filename.
SD File Access
The function HttpReadFile() reads the requested file from the SD Card and sends it to the Client. As a first step, the requested file is opened. If that fails, a 404 response is sent. Otherwise, the file type is determined from the file name suffix and a corresponding http-header is sent to the client. Afterwards, the file is read in chunks of 32 bytes, which then are sent directly to the client. Once the file transmission is completed, the file is closed and released again.
Note: All file and directory names have to follow the 8.3 naming pattern. Further, the SD card has to be formatted in FAT16 or FAT32. Otherwise, any SD file access will fail.
Modifications to the Webduino Framework
For the program to work completely and in an efficient manner, some adaptations to the Webduino framework have been made.
As the function WebServer::httpSuccess() only accepts parameters from RAM, this can lead to high memory usage, especially when long additional headers shall be transmitted in order to control the caching behaviour of connecting clients. Therefore a function WebServer::httpSuccessP() has been added, that reads the parameters from program memory instead of the SRAM. In contrast to the function WebServer::httpSuccess() the new function forwards the parameter to WebServer::printP() instead of WebServer::print(). This happens for both parameters, so both have to be defined using the P() macro. Further contentType has been declared as a required parameter, whereas the default value for extraHeaders is still defined as NULL.
As the webpages will be loaded from SD Card instead of generation by the program, the functions WebServer::outputCheckboxOrRadio(), WebServer::checkBox() and WebServer::radioButton() are not used and can be deleted from – or commented out of – the Webduino source code in order to save some memory. To further save RAM, in all Serial.print() respectively Serial.println() calls the F() macro can be added if the content is static.
Further a function has been added to send 404 errors to the client, if a file cannot be read from the SD card.
In order to reduce the Ethernet load and RAM-usage on the Arduino, and because the server only provides live data in XML and not in HTML form, a web interface is implemented in a simple AJAX-Script, that regularly requests the Live-Data-XML and parses the data for presentation on client side.
With the Webduino-Framework Noser Engineering implemented a HTTP-Server, that has a footprint of less than 32kB and uses less than 2kB of RAM. Besides the actual Web-server, the Implemented program is also able to perform soft-real-time I/O-Operations in parallel. The largest limitations is, that the capabilities of the chosen Arduino-Platform are completely used and not further expandable.