OneWire UART
Interface 1-Wire devices over UART protocol
Application note

Getting started

Repository onewire_uart is hosted on Github. It combines source code and example projects.

Clone repository

First-time clone
  • Download and install git if not already
  • Open console and navigate to path in the system to clone repository to. Use command cd your_path
  • Run git clone --recurse-submodules command to clone repository including submodules
  • Navigate to examples directory and run favourite example
Already cloned, update to latest version
  • Open console and navigate to path in the system where your resources repository is. Use command cd your_path
  • Run git pull origin master --recurse-submodules command to pull latest changes and to fetch latest changes from submodules
  • Run git submodule foreach git pull origin master to update & merge all submodules

Example projects

Several examples are available to show application use cases. These are split and can be tested on different systems.

ARM Cortex-M examples

Library is independant from CPU architecture, meaning we can also run it on embedded systems. Different ports for FreeRTOS operating system and STM32 based microcontrollers are available too.

STM32 boards and pinouts for tests
OneWire settingsDebug settings
STM32L496G-Discovery USART1 PB6 PG10 USART2 PA2 PD6 921600 OBSTL
STM32F429ZI-Nucleo USART1 PA9 PA10 USART3 PD8 PD9 921600 OBSTL
  • MTX: MCU TX pin, connected to OneWire network data pin (together with MCU RX pin)
  • MRX: MCU RX pin, connected to OneWire network data pin (together with MCU TX pin)
  • MDTX: MCU Debug TX pin, other device RX pin
  • MDRX: MCU Debug RX pin, other device TX pin
  • DBD: Debug UART baudrate
  • OBSTL: On-Board ST-Link USB virtual COM port
All examples for STM32 come with ST's official free development studio STM32CubeIDE, available at

Brief protocol introduction

1-Wire protocol is very well and clearly defined in terms of timings, how to read/write single bit and byte on interface.

Detailed protocol specifications are available on Maxim website.

Based on timings, we can with few lines of code emulate protocol with single GPIO pin and software delay. While this may work good, we have some major issues on modern microcontrollers:

  • Interrupts: If you have fixed delay and interrupt jumps in, there is additional time in our wait routine and timings is incorrect
  • Operating system: Most of advanced MCUs (high-speed, ARM-Cortex-M based) use RTOS systems in the application. While delay may work with well on milliseconds based resolution, task switching and other interrupts will introduce additional delay in timings.
Both problems may be eliminated with interrupt driven software, which requires many software skills

Instead of taking care of timings from software point of view, we can use hardware (if available) to handle timings on silicon level. One option is UART protocol which is available on (99.9%) every microcontroller on a market. Many of them have only 1 interface which is normally used for other communication (or debugging), thus we have to search for one with more than 1 UART interface.

1-Wire uses 2 different important timings and these are:

  • Reset pulse: Used to reset all devices to initial states. By 1-Wire timing specs, it maches 9600 bauds on UART level
  • Read/Write single bit: Used to read or write single bit to/from slave device. By 1-Wire timing specs, it matches 115200 bauds on UART level.
1-Wire specs match UART timing at 9600 or 115200 bauds only when following UART configuration is used: 1 STOP bit, LSB bit first, no parity

Library configuration

To make library as efficient as possible, different configuration parameters are available to make sure all the requirements are met for different purposes as possible.

A list of all configurations can be found in Configuration section.

Project configuration file

Library comes with 2 configuration files:

When project is started, user has to rename template file to ow_config.h and if required, it should override default settings in this file.

Default template file comes with something like this:

/* Rename this file to "ow_config.h" for your application */
* Open "include/ow/ow_config_default.h" and
* copy & replace here settings you want to change values
/* After user configuration, call default config to merge config together */
#include "ow/ow_config_default.h"
#endif /* OW_HDR_CONFIG_H */

If bigger buffer is required, modification must be made like following:

/* Rename this file to "ow_config.h" for your application */
/* Enable operating system support */
#define OW_CFG_OS 1
/* After user configuration, call default config to merge config together */
#include "ow/ow_config_default.h"
#endif /* OW_HDR_CONFIG_H */
Always modify default settings by overriding them in user's custom ow_config.h file which was previously renamed from ow_config_template.h

Hardware connection

Devices must be connected to host (master) device via single-wire (that's why protocol is 1-Wire) + VCC + GND of course. UART protocol uses 2 async lines for communication. We need to transfer 2 wire transfer to single wire.

To do it successfully, we need our TX pin in open-drain mode. Most of MCUs or USB-to-UART transceivers don't have option for open-drain mode TX pin (STM32 family has this option).

1-Wire connection with push-pull to open-drain converter
1-Wire connection with TX/RX pins in open-drain mode

Image above explains how to convert TX pin in push-pull mode into open-drain mode and how to connect it to 1-Wire devices. If your host master device supports open-drain mode, you may skipp circuit with 2 transistors and 2 resistors and:

  • Connect TX and RX pins together
  • Use TX (or RX, doesn't matter as they are connected together) as data wire for slave devices
Circuit explanation

TX pin high: Left NMOS is open, its drain pin is connected to GND. Gate of right NMOS is also connected to GND in this case, right NMOS is closed (current flow is not possible). Drain of right NMOS is high because of right pull-up resistor. All slaves see logical 1 on bus which is the same as we outputted on TX pin with push-pull mode. If any of slaves tries to set bus low, there is no issue with short circuit because of right resistor.

TX pin low: Left NMOS is closed, its drain is connected to VCC with left pull-up resistor. Gate of right NMOS is connected to VCC with left pull-up resistor this right NMOS is open. Now drain for right NMOS is tied to GND and bus value is forced low.

We achieved desired functionality. When setting TX pin high, slaves can set bus to low if required, but when TX pin is low, bus is forced to low

Open-Drain output mode prevents short circuit on bus when master wants to output logical 1 and slave wants to output logical 0 at the same time. The same applies between 2 different slaves. Open-Drain mode allows you only to put bus low or be disconnected from bus. Bus is set high using external resistor. If TX pin would be in push-pull configuration and output is high while slave wants to put it low, there is short circuit on bus and communication would collapse
TX versus RX pin

As explained earlier, we need to send UART data on TX pin and read it at the same time from RX pin. This may be called loop-back functionality with one important feature.

When we output logical 1 on TX pin, we expect bus to be high, but slave can set it to low. Since RX pin is connected on bus directly, we will see this change on RX pin coming back to MCU.

Imagine reset sequence in 1-Wire protocol. UART must be set at 9600 bauds and byte value 0xF0 must be transmitted on TX line. We expect bus to be low half of byte and high half of byte. By 1-Wire specs, slaves must respond by setting bus low when TX pin is high.

Sending 0xF0 and we receive back 0xF0 means there are no slaves connected on a bus, because no slave set bus to low and TX value is just reflected to RX.

Byte, bit and timing relation

Single byte is represented with 8-bits stream. By 1-Wire specs, sending 1-bit of data, specific sequence must be send over UART at 115200 bauds.

  • Write logical high: To send logical low bit, bus requires UART constant value 0xFF. Start bit in UART sequence will take care of short low pulse, which indicates start of frame for 1-Wire bit transfer. The rest of the time bus must be high (0xFF part).
    • Write logical low: To send logical low bit, bus requires UART constant value 0x00 which forces bus to be low on full period, except STOP bit of UART.
  • Read bit: Since master must initialize every transaction, reading bit value is the same as writing logical 1. It starts with short low period (start bit of UART frame) and follows with bus high. Slave is responsible to force bus low in case of logical low or keep it high in case of logical high.

Detailed correlation between 1-Wire timing and UART can be found here.

It is worth to know, important timing starts when master initializes bus to read/write bit. When read/write sequence of single byte finishes, master does not need to start new sequence for new bit immediately thus there is advantage for user, if host MCU or other device does not have DMA, because:

  • User sets UART output data and waits for transmission completed for TX and also for RX (user sends data on TX, reads back on RX side)
  • If interrupt happens (or task switch in RTOS mode), UART HW will take care of proper timing and set status flags indicating transmission of byte completed, etc.
  • When original task start execution again (or interrupt finishes), user can read previous byte and send new one for next bit
  • Conclusion: No matter how complicated our system is (how many interrupts, tasks, etc), timings for every bit will be correct, but timing between 2 bits will vary and this is not an issue by 1-Wire specification
    • Very important advantage comparing to software driven timings
To send 3 bits on 1-Wire level, user must send 3 bytes on UART level. Blue and Green parts show timing part which is not critical