555 Timer Operating Modes
The 555 has three main operating modes, Monostable, Astable, and Bistable. Each mode represents a different type of circuit that has a particular output.
An Astable Circuit
has no stable state - hence the name "astable". The output continually switches state between high and low without without any intervention from the user, called a 'square' wave. This type of circuit could be used to give a mechanism intermittent motion by switching a motor on and off at regular intervals. It can also be used to flash lamps and LEDs, and is useful as a 'clock' pulse for other digital ICs and circuits.
A Monostable Circuit
produces one pulse of a set length in response to a trigger input such as a push button. The output of the circuit stays in the low state until there is a trigger input, hence the name "monostable" meaning "one stable state". his type of circuit is ideal for use in a "push to operate" system for a model displayed at exhibitions. A visitor can push a button to start a model's mechanism moving, and the mechanism will automatically switch off after a set time.
Bistable Mode (or Schmitt Trigger)
A Bistable Mode
or what is sometimes called a Schmitt Trigger
, has two stable states, high and low. Taking the Trigger input low makes the output of the circuit go into the high state. Taking the Reset input low makes the output of the circuit go into the low state. This type of circuit is ideal for use in an automated model railway system where the train is required to run back and forth over the same piece of track. A push button (or reed switch with a magnet on the underside of the train) would be placed at each end of the track so that when one is hit by the train, it will either trigger or reset the bistable. The output of the 555 would control a DPDT relay which would be wired as a reversing switch to reverse the direction of current to the track, thereby reversing the direction of the train.
Inside the 555