PWM in Dragonboard410c

Manivannan Sadhasivam


Hello and Welcome to the blog of PWM in Dragonboard410c. This blog summarises the recently added on board PWM functionality in Dragonboard410c, a most popular consumer edition board in 96Boards family.


PWM is the Pulse Width Modulation, a technique used for producing the digital signal to control devices such as motors, LEDs etc… PWM consists of two main componenets:

  • Frequency - Number of cycles per second
  • Duty Cycle - Period at which the signal is ON

In Linux, hardware PWM peripheral is being managed by the PWM subsystem which exposes control to userspace via sysfs.

PWM in Dragonboard410c

Since 96Boards Consumer Edition specification doesn’t mandate PWM output to be exposed on the board, most of our boards didn’t make any space for the dedicated PWM signal. This will become problematic if the boards are used for any applications which requires PWM control like Servo motor, LED dimming etc… But luckily for Dragonboard410c, there is one pin MPP4 available on the Low Speed header (Pin 28) which comes from the peripheral capable of producing the PWM output.

The peripheral is PMIC 8916, which is a power management IC. It produces PWM signal for the primary purpose of dimming control of external WLED IC driver with the help of LPG (Light Pulse Generator) module. But this interface can also be used to control hobby servo motors which draws minimum current.

The driver implementing the PWM interface in Qualcomm Linux kernel is drivers/leds/leds-qcom-lpg.c and it exposes a single channel PWM interface for LPG module. This functionality isn’t upstreamed yet so you can only find it in Linaro Qualcomm Landing team kernel.

Following instructions are used to control the PWM output on MPP4/Pin 28 from userspace in Linux.


Flash the recent linaro debian build available here. Both the driver and its relevant devicetree entries are enabled by default.

Controlling PWM from Userspace

Below commands can be used to generate PWM at a frequency of 100KHz with 50% duty cycle on the MPP4/Pin 28 on LS header.

# Export PWM 0
$ echo 0 | sudo tee /sys/class/pwm/pwmchip0/export

# Set frequency to 100KHz (value in nanoseconds)
$ echo 10000 | sudo tee /sys/class/pwm/pwmchip0/pwm0/period

# Set 50% duty cycle (value in nanoseconds)
$ echo 5000 | sudo tee /sys/class/pwm/pwmchip0/pwm0/duty_cycle

# Enable PWM 0
$ echo 1 | sudo tee /sys/class/pwm/pwmchip0/pwm0/enable

Note: Both Frequency and Dutycycle should be specified in Nanoseconds.

Below is the script which can be used to sweep a hobby servo across its useful range:


echo sweep servo position at 50Hz nominal freq

# hobby servos want a pulse between 1ms (full CCW), 1.5ms (center) and 2ms (full CW) repeated every 20ms (50Hz)

PERIOD=20000000 #50Hz
MIN_DUTY=1000000 #1mS
MAX_DUTY=2000000 #2ms
DUTY=$MIN_DUTY  # initial duty cycle 1ms
INC=10000       # 1% 10uS

echo 0 | sudo tee /sys/class/pwm/pwmchip0/export
echo $PERIOD | sudo tee /sys/class/pwm/pwmchip0/pwm0/period >/dev/null
echo $DUTY | sudo tee /sys/class/pwm/pwmchip0/pwm0/duty_cycle >/dev/null
echo 1 | sudo tee /sys/class/pwm/pwmchip0/pwm0/enable >/dev/null

while [ $DUTY -lt $MAX_DUTY ]; do
        echo $DUTY | sudo tee /sys/class/pwm/pwmchip0/pwm0/duty_cycle >/dev/null
        let DUTY=DUTY+INC
        sleep 0.1
        printf %d\\r  $DUTY

Note: Due to hardware limitation, the frequency might be little off and dutycycle won’t be available in exact steps.


As said above, this PWM interface can only be used for controlling a LED or hobby servo motor which draws very low current. This should not be used for controlling any high end motors as it might damage the board.

I hope that this blog provided a good overview of the PWM functionality available in Dragonboard410c. This same information can also be found in 96Boards Documentation.

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