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Analog Dialogue

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In the November issue of Analog Dialogue we present Part 3 of our ongoing series on software-defined radio, covering validation of the system algorithm using live data as input and some powerful software and system development tools provided by ADI, MathWorks, and Avnet. If you’ve read Parts 1 & 2, you’ve seen this SDR system steadily progress from initial prototyping toward a production design. This radio will soon be ready for its real-world test drive, so stay tuned (pardon the pun). The second article revisits an earlier design of a versatile, low power single-ended–to–differential converter circuit. This time around, this useful converter circuit is made even more versatile. The authors have addressed using the circuit in applications that require greater output dynamic range, such as in signal conditioning temperature and pressure sensor outputs. They also explain how to implement an adjustable common mode which is very convenient when interfacing signals to some ADCs where the reference determines its full-scale range.


Check out the November Analog Dialogue here



In the  October issue of Analog Dialogue is online and we continue the series on model-based software-defined radio system design with the objective of building a platform that will receive and decode the automatic dependent surveillance broadcast (ADS-B) transmissions from commercial aircraft. This month, our designers analyze the Mode S Extended Squitter format used in ADS-B signal transmissions and explain how to capture these Mode S signals with a receiver platform based on the AD9361 RF agile transceiver IC.
The authors then use MATLAB and Simulink tools to develop an algorithm that can decode the messages. We’re one step closer…


Our second article explains that when external overvoltage conditions are applied to an amplifier, ESD diodes can be the last line of defense between your amplifier and the catastrophic damage that can result from electrical over stress. Our expert shows us how ESD cells are implemented in an amplifier device, discusses their characteristics, and shows how they can improve the robustness of a
design. This article will interest everyone who wants and needs to enhance the survival factor of their amplifier circuit.


Okay now, so how diverse can two articles be?


Really, they’re as diverse as ADI’s customer base. Looking back through the Analog Dialogue archives, I saw an interesting note written a few years back by then editor Dan Sheingold on the history of Analog Dialogue, where he points out that its original 1967 subtitle was A journal for the exchange of operational amplifier technology. I think you’d agree that this suggests a pretty limited focus. And now, as evidenced by the two articles in this issue, Analog Dialogue addresses a wide variety of engineering concerns — from designing a complete SDR system that pulls air traffic control communications out of the ether, down to a very specific amplifier hardware refinement technique that protects an amplifier from overstress. My apologies that I’ve yet to come across an article on protecting engineers from overstress. That really might be just ahead of what’s possible.


ADI’s product diversity has greatly expanded over the years but one thing hasn’t changed: the need for us to provide peer-to-peer technical forums where engineers exchange design ideas, suggest improvements, discuss design techniques, demystify new technologies and, yes, even analyze full-blown reference designs and source code. Analog Dialogue will continue to diversify and evolve to meet that need.


Check out the October Analog Dialogue here.

The September 2015 issue of Analog Dialogue contains…


The first of a four-part article series that explores a model-based design technique for wireless software-defined radio systems. This article tackles the complete system design: the RF signal chain, the digital processing, and the system software. The series, jointly written by ADI and two of our systems resource partners, Xilinx and MathWorks, presents a more holistic view of system design than what you might expect from Analog Devices, especially if you consider us just a component supplier. The authors will walk through the SDR system design process utilizing reference hardware and operating software, functional device models, and system code development tools. This design journey will demonstrate a working radio programmed to receive and decode automatic dependent surveillance broadcast (ADS-B) signals from commercial aircraft in the vicinity — and fully discerning the aircraft’s position, altitude, and velocity.


A second article on energy harvesting systems explores the technique of capturing and storing energy from a host of ambient sources such as solar, mechanical vibrations, temperature, movement, and RF signals. Energy harvesting technology has advanced such that now it’s feasible and economical to capture this “free” energy even though it contains very small quantities of power, and use it to perform periodic functions and supplement replace batteries in some electric equipment. This article looks at the block diagrams and design considerations involved with the highly efficient power regulators required for managing the periodic and varying energy levels of captured energy and converting it to stable and usable output power.

Contemplating these two articles brought to mind the crystal AM radios I had as a kid in the early 1960s. These sets could be considered the lowest form of radio receiver technology (outside of some folk’s alleged AM radio reception via loose tooth fillings). These simple radio circuits harvested their audio power by rectifying the modulation envelope of the received AM signal. I remember having a couple of sets resembling rocket ships and one fashioned as a Coca-Cola® vending machine. I’d venture to say that a fair number of us budding “radiomen” who were totally intrigued by these primitive radio receivers went on to become the design engineers who ultimately contributed to the development of software-defined radio technology.

Soon, SDR and energy harvesting will undoubtedly cross paths as the demands of The Internet of Things (IoT) will require self-powered networks and radio transceivers. So energy harvesting radios will once again rule, although software-defined, not cat whisker-defined. And they will likely not resemble Coke machines, but will most certainly be embedded in them.

Check out the September Analog Dialogue  here.

Engineers that must design for very high temperature environments -- such as down-hole oil and gas, avionics, heavy industrial, and under-hood automotive -- face quite a challenge when it comes to making high precision circuits that are also reliable, compact and low power.  After all, 210°C/410°F is a great temperature to cook a pizza, but standard electronic circuits are not going to fare very well!  At these temperatures there are multiple physical phenomena working against you when it comes to the performance and reliability of integrated circuits.  Gustavo.Castro and I described many of these factors in our 2012 article  "High-Temperature Electronics Pose Design and Reliability Challenges", which I would recommend reading for a good overview of the applications, challenges, solutions and best practices.


Since 2012 a lot of progress has been made in this space.  Analog Devices has released several new products for high temperature environments, enabling a signal chain for "sensor-to-bits", including sensor signal conditioning, analog-to-digital conversion and MEMS inertial sensors.  To that end, we are excited to introduce our first reference design for high temperature precision data acquisition, based around the new AD7981 High Temperature 600 kSPS SAR ADC:




In the August 2015 edition of Analog Dialogue, Maithil Pachchigar (maithil) and I present a new reference design for high temperature data acquisition, characterized from room temperature to 175°C. This circuit is intended to be a complete data acquisition circuit building block that will take an analog sensor input, condition it, and digitize it to an SPI serial data stream. It is versatile enough to be used as a single channel, or it can be scaled for multiple channel simultaneous sampling applications. Recognizing the importance of low power consumption, the power consumption of the ADC scales linearly with the sample rate. The ADC can also be directly powered from the voltage reference, eliminating the need for an additional power rail and the associated power conversion inefficiencies. This reference design is available off the shelf (CN0365) to facilitate testing by designers and includes all schematics, bill of materials, PCB artwork, and test software.  You can read the full text of the article at "A Low Power Data Acquisition Solution for High Temperature Electronics Applications"


You can see this board in action in a demo that we made that incorporates the data acquisition reference design along with the eval board for our high temp MEMS gyroscope, the ADXRS645:



For more information on high temperature products from Analog Devices, visit

One of the more difficult aspects of PLL synthesizer applications is dealing with spurious signals and using frequency planning to avoid unwanted interference. This article details a simple, yet very effective optimization technique for avoiding spurious signals from the Analog Devices family of integrated PLLVCO products. The article also introduces our new, free frequency planning software: ADIsimFrequencyPlanner.



For more information on this application, please read, Analyzing, Optimizing, and Eliminating Integer Boundary Spurs in Phase-Locked Loops with VCOs at up to 13.6 GHz, which was recently published in the August 2015 issue of Analog Dialogue. We hope that you find this useful and look forward to your feedback.

Some of the most interesting applications for MEMS IMUs involve a purposeful blend of multiple inertial observers, in addition to the IMU.  While this article was published a few years ago, it serves as a relevant reminder of how combining independent sensing technologies can create exciting, life-changing functions.  In this case, GPS, Laser, wheel-based odometers and the MEMS IMU combine to provide very accurate, autonomous robot operation.



For more information on this application, please read, Inertial Sensors Facilitate Autonomous Operation in Mobile Robots, which was originally published in the August 2010 issue of Analog Dialogue. We hope that you find this useful and look forward to your feedback.

Highly integrated, fully specified sensor systems, such as the ADIS16209 tilt sensor, allow system developers to readily use sensor technologies with which they may have little experience—with minimal investment and risk. Since accuracy is fully specified at a given power level, it might appear that the developer's ability to reduce power consumption is constrained. However, the use of power cycling techniques provides a useful trade space in applications where energy use must be tightly managed. This article focuses on the key behaviors in smart sensor products, which may impact power cycling and how effectively this technique can reduce power.


The concepts and analysis techniques presented in this article provide a good starting point for engineers who value highly integrated sensor products but are also under pressure to reduce power consumption where possible. More importantly, the thought process associated with identifying and analyzing behaviors that can impact overall power goals will be even more important, as each system design offers new opportunities and risks.


For more information, click on the following link to access, Power Cycling 101: Optimizing Energy Use in Smart Sensor Products, which originally published in the August 2010 Issue of Analog Dialogue. We hope that this helps and look forward to your feedback.




Sensor misalignment is often a key consideration for high performance motion control systems that use MEMS inertial measurement units (IMUs) in their feedback loops. For the gyroscopes in the IMU, sensor misalignment describes the angular difference between each gyroscope’s axis of rotation (solid blue lines) and the system defined inertial reference frame, also known as the global frame (gray dotted lines).


ADIS16485 Inertial Misalignment Angles


Managing the impact that misalignment has on sensor accuracy can require unique packaging, special assembly processes, or even complex inertial testing in the final configuration. All of these things can have a major impact on important project management metrics such as schedule, investment, and the total cost associated with the IMU in each system. To start learning how to understand and manage sensor misalignment, check out The Basics of MEMS IMU/Gyroscope Alignment in Analog Dialogue.

We hope that this article helps you as early as possible in your design cycle, so that you can avoid surprises that impact critical system objectives (schedule, cost, power....) and exceed all of your performance objectives.  We look forward to your feedback on this!

Can you explain why the minimum and maximum gain errors specified by my ADC differ so much? Learn more in "Isn’t that gain specification a bit lopsided?" as published in the March 2015 issue of Analog Dialogue.


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We welcome your feedback. Has this article helped you in your design? Would you like more information on this topic?


Best regards,


Do I really need to match the impedance between both inputs of my amplifier? Learn more at "Muntzing can save cost, components, and even your sanity" as published in the April 2015 issue of Analog Dialogue.

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We welcome your feedback. Has this article helped you in your design? Would you like more information on this topic?


Best regards,


Choosing References

Posted by analogkidr Feb 6, 2015

How do I choose a voltage reference? Learn more at "Choosing References" as published in the February 2015 issue of Analog Dialogue.


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We welcome your feedback. Has this article helped you in your design? Would you like more information on this topic?


Best regards,



My amplifier doesn’t behave properly when multiplexing channels. What could be the cause? Find out in "Don't Get Caught Speeding" as published in the January 2015 issue of Analog Dialogue.

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We welcome your feedback. Has this article helped you in your design? Would you like more information on this topic?


Best regards,


How can a high-performance analog-to-digital converter have numerous power connections but only a couple of grounds? Find out at "Exposed Paddles and Downbonds Improve Performance and Reduce Pin Count" as published in the December 2014 issue of Analog Dialogue.

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We welcome your feedback. Has this article helped you in your design? Would you like more information on this topic?


Best regards,


Choosing Analog ICs

Posted by analogkidr Feb 6, 2015

You’ve told us that we need not be too careful when choosing discrete transistors. What about analog ICs? Learn more in "Choosing Analog ICs", as published in the November 2014 issue of Analog Dialogue.

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We welcome your feedback. Has this article helped you in your design? Would you like more information on this topic?


Best regards,


What should concern me when testing my heart-rate monitor prototype? Find out in "I Grew Up in the 80s and Survived! " as published in the October 2014 issue of Analog Dialogue.A-D 48-10 RAQ.jpg

We welcome your feedback. Has this article helped you in your design? Would you like more information on this topic?


Best regards,