What is an evaluation board and how do I use it

I am buying an analog multiplier and some of them (say the AD633) have evaluation boards described in the datasheet. It seems like a nice tool but I've never used one. Compared with just buying a DIP chip and using a breadboard, what is it and how do I use it?

For example:

1) What advantages are there to the additional resistors and capacitors or, in some cases, baluns?

2) Is it less likely to break the chip accidentally?

3) When is it worth the additional cost? e.g. when your company needs to buy 1000 multipliers of some type and you are trying to decide which type to buy. 

4) Do you still need to solder?

5) Anything else I should know.

I am a mechanical engineer by training but I have some working knowledge of electronics and transistors. 

Attached are the relevant pages of the AD633 datasheet. Thank you!

  • Hi:

    I will try to answer your question by giving you my perspective on prototyping circuits. In general using a pre-made PCB evaluation board vs plugging a DIP into a solderless breadboard is more rugged and reliable but not as flexable. You can add just about anything to your test circuit on the breadboard. The bandwidth of the AD633 is only 1 MHz, which with the use of careful breadboarding techniques, should not be an issue. Faster "RF" multipliers might run into issues on a solderless breadboard (i.e. 500 MHz AD834).

    1) What advantages are there to the additional resistors and capacitors or, in some cases, baluns?

    According to the schematic in the AD633 datasheet there are no baluns on the PCB. The included opamp might be useful but you could add this simple circuit to the breadboard just as easily. There are a lot of switches on the eval board which makes changing the configuration easy but using a breadboard is infinitely flexible.

    2) Is it less likely to break the chip accidentally?

    If you mean physically break then yes, with the part soldered to the board you are unlikely to do physical damage to the part. If you mean electrical damage, you can burn up the part ( like with over voltage ) just as easily either way.

    3) When is it worth the additional cost?

    Usually not ( unless you are looking at an RF part ). 

    4) Do you still need to solder?

    Probably, the connections to the evaluation PCB are through small "test points" designed to for use with "grabber" style test leads. For best results it is a good idea to solder wires directly to the PCB. You may want to change component values.

    Hope these pearls of wisdom are of some small help.


  • Hello,

    Thank you for the question regarding the AD633 eval board.

    I was the designer of the board. The AD633 was designed before ADI made it a practice to design eval boards for their products, now there are thousands of boards for various products, along with support boards for special functions.

    The op-amp on the AD633-EVALZ enables the division function, as well as multiplication. The AD633 turned out to be a very popular device, so I decided to create the board to assist customers in their prototyping stages. Although simple in concept, an analogue multiplier is a novel concept for a lot if people (I was one of those people).

    A very common application problem for many customers (including myself in another life) is how can I tell if a circuit is working. Eval boards are factory tested, and calibrated where applicable. This removes a big uncertainty factor on the part of customers new to the technology of the particular function of interest.

    The prior comments are also true as well.