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Designing Embedded Hardware by John Catsoulis

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Interfacing an External ADC

A very wide range of ADCs is available, for every considerable purpose. Choose from very low-cost, low-speed ADCs for simple voltage conversion to very high-speed, precise (and expensive) ADCs for sampling video streams. Many microcontrollers have built-in ADC subsystems, making analog interfacing simple. However, if the processor doesn’t incorporate an ADC, or its ADC is not suited to your application, an external device must be added.

A good general-purpose ADC for sensor applications is the Maxim MAX1245. It has eight channels of analog input and can sample at 100,000 samples per second, with a resolution of 12 bits. (Similar devices have resolutions ranging from 8 bits to 16 bits, with interfaces such as SPI, I2C, and processor bus.) The MAX1245 has an internal track and hold, preventing a changing signal from corrupting the result during a conversion. The MAX1245 is interfaced to a host processor via an interface that is compatible with SPI, Microwire, and the serial interfaces found in Texas Instruments TMS320-series DSP processors (Figure 12-10). As you can see, the MAX1245 is very easy to use. In this schematic, the analog input is coming in via an IDC header, the 16-pin connector on the left of the figure. Note that every second pin on the connector is tied to ground. This means that every second wire in the connected cable will be ground, to provide a degree of noise immunity to our analog signals.

Figure 12-10. MAX1245 interface

The DOUT, ...

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