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Analog to Digital Converter IC Basic Overview

Author: Apogeeweb
Date: 22 Apr 2021
 1971
analog to digital converting

Introduction

An analog-to-digital converter, or A/D converter, or ADC for short, usually refers to an electronic device that converts an analog signal into a digital signal. Except for the most specialized analog-to-digital converters, all ADCs are implemented as integrated circuits (ICs). These are usually mixed-signal integrated circuit chips based on metal oxide semiconductor (MOS) that integrate analog and digital circuits.

As we all know, ADC is mainly used to the digital acquisition of analog signals for for data processing purposes. The signals around us are generally continuously changing analog quantities, such as light, temperature, speed, pressure, sound, etc. However, most of us use digital equipment. If we want to use and process information easily, it is necessary to convert the analog quantity into a digital quantity and transmit it to the microcontroller or microprocessor. So how is ADC conversion realized? What kind of process is it? Reading the following note, you will definitely have a more comprehensive and systematic understanding of the analog-to-digital converter.

What is ADC (Analog to Digital Converter)?

Catalog

Introduction

Ⅰ A/D Converter Basic

1.1 Analog-to-Digital Converter Definition

1.2 Analog to Digital Conversion Steps

1.3 Why do We Need Analog-to-Digital Converter?

Ⅱ Which A/D Converter is Better?

Ⅲ What A/D Converter Includes?

Ⅳ A/D Converter Applications and ICs

4.1 Analog-to-Digital Converter Applications

4.2 Analog-to-Digital Converter IC Modes Explained

Ⅰ A/D Converter Basic

1.1 Analog-to-Digital Converter Definition

The ADC converter is a system that converts analog signals into digital signals. It is a process of filtering, sample-and-hold, quantization and encoding. The analog signal passes band-limited filtering, sample-and-hold circuit, and becomes a ladder-shaped signal, and then passes through the encoder to make each level in the ladder-shaped signal become a binary code. Finally, the analog quantity is converted into a digital quantity and then transmitted to the CPU. That is to say, almost all energized data need ADC conversion. For example, electric energy metering of electric energy meters, weight measurement of electronic scales, temperature measurement of electronic thermometers, and communication fields.

1.2 Analog to Digital Conversion Steps

The process of converting analog quantities into digital quantities is called analog-to-digital conversion, abbreviated as A/D, and the circuit that completes this function is called analog-to-digital converter, or ADC for short.

Analog-to-Digital Conversion Steps Animation

1) Sampling refers to replacing the original continuous signal in time with a sequence of signal samples at regular intervals, that is, discretizing the analog signal in time.
2) Quantization uses a limited number of amplitude values to approximate the original continuously changing amplitude value, that is, changing the continuous amplitude of the analog signal into a limited number of discrete values with a certain interval.
3) Encoding is based on a certain rule, the quantized value is represented by binary numbers, and then converted into a binary or multi-value digital signal stream. The digital signal obtained in this way can be transmitted through digital lines such as cables, microwave trunk lines, and satellite channels.
The higher the signal frequency, the higher the operating frequency of the A/D circuit. The more digits, the more accurate the restoration accuracy of the signal. The I/O port of the MCU needs program cooperation to complete the A/D conversion. What’s more, the A/D chip can also be used alone to complete the analog-to-digital conversion.

1.3 Why do We Need Analog-to-Digital Converter?

Computer software, radio, and digital image acquisition all need the assistance of ADC converters, that is, the wave of human digitization has promoted the invention, development and continuous change of ADC converters. In short, the ADC converter plays an important role in human digitization.

ADC Converter

1) Many recording studios use 24-bit/96 kHz (or higher) pulse code modulation (PCM) or direct stream digital (DSD) recording formats, and then use ADC samples or decimates the signal for digital audio production on discs.
2) Use ADC to store or transmit almost any analog signal in digital form. For example, TV tuner cards use fast video analog-to-digital converters. Digital storage oscilloscopes require very fast analog-to-digital converters, and ADCs are also crucial for software-defined radio and its new applications.
3) Digital imaging systems usually use analog-to-digital converters to digitize pixels. Some radar systems usually use ADCs to convert signal strength into digital values for subsequent signal processing.
4) Certain non-electronic or only partially electronic devices (such as rotary encoders) can also be regarded as analog-to-digital converters.

analog to digital conversion example(light signal to digital signal)

Figure 1. Analog to Digital Conversion Example(Light Signal to Digital Signal)

 

Ⅱ Which A/D Converter is Better?

After years of development and continuous technological innovation, ADC converters have developed from Flash ADCs, Successive-Approximation ADCs, Counting/Slope Integration ADCs to sigma-delta (Σ-Δ) ADCs and Pipelined ADCs. They have their own advantages and disadvantages, and they can also meet different requirements.
Successive-Approximation ADCs, Counting/Slope Integration ADCs and compression ADCs, etc. are mainly used in low-speed or medium-speed, medium-precision data acquisition and intelligent instruments. Hierarchical and pipelined ADCs are mainly used in high-speed signal processing, fast waveform storage and data recording, etc., such as video signal quantization and high-speed digital communication technology. ∑-△ ADC is mainly used in high-precision data acquisition, especially in electronic measurement fields such as digital sound systems, multimedia, seismic exploration instruments, sonar and so on. Here a brief description of the main ADC types is given below.

 

  • Successive-Approximation ADC

The successive-approximation ADC is widely used. It includes a comparator, a digital-to-analog converter, a successive-approximation register (SAR) and a control logic unit. It is to continuously compare the sampling input signal with the known voltage. One clock cycle completes the 1-bit conversion, and the N-bit conversion requires N clock cycles. The conversion is completed and the output binary number is output. The resolution and sampling rate of this type ADC are contradictory: when the ADC resolution is low, the sampling rate is high, and if the resolution is to be improved, the sampling rate will be limited.
Advantages: when the resolution is lower than 12 bits, the price is cheap, and the sampling rate can reach 1MSPS. Compared with other types, the power consumption is quite low.
Disadvantages: In the case of higher than 14-bit resolution, the price is higher. The signal generated by the sensor needs to be conditioned before analog-to-digital conversion, including gain stage and filtering, so that the cost will increase significantly.

 

  • Counting/Slope Integration ADCs

Counting/Slope Integration ADC is also called dual-slope or multi-slope ADC, and its applications are also very wide. It is composed of an analog integrator with an input switch, a comparator and a counting unit. The input analog voltage is converted into a time interval proportional to its average value through two integrations. At the same time, a counter is used to count the clock pulses in this time interval, so as to realize the analog-to-digital conversion. Because the input end applies the integrator, it has a strong ability to suppress the interference of AC noise. For example, for high-frequency noise and fixed low-frequency (50Hz or 60Hz) interference suppression, it is suitable for use in noisy industrial environments. This type ADC is mainly used in low-speed, precision measurement and other fields, such as digital voltmeters.
Advantages: High resolution, up to 22 bits; low power consumption and low cost.
Disadvantages: The conversion rate is low, 100~300SPS at 12 bits.

 

  • Parallel ADCs

The main feature of inter ADC is fast speed, which is the fastest of all types. The sampling rate can reach above 1GSPS. However, due to the limitations of power and volume, it is difficult to improve the resolution. The conversion of all bits of the ADC with this structure is completed at the same time, and the conversion time mainly depends on the switching speed of the comparator and the transmission time delay of the encoder. In addition, increasing the output code has little effect on the conversion time, but as the resolution increases, a high-density analog design  requires large number of precision divider resistors and comparator circuits for the conversion. That is to say, the output number is increased by one bit and the number of precision resistors is increased. It is about to double, and the comparator is also approximately doubled.
The resolution of the parallel comparison ADC is limited by die size, input capacitance, power, etc. If the accuracy of the parallel comparators does not match, it will also cause static errors and increase the input offset voltage.

 

  • Sigma-delta (Σ-Δ) ADCs

The Sigma-delta (Σ-Δ) ADC is composed of an integrator, a comparator, a 1-bit DA converter, and a digital filter. In principle, it is similar to the integral type. The input voltage is converted into a time (pulse width) signal and processed by a digital filter to obtain a digital value.

analog to digital converter application example

Figure 2. Analog to Digital Converter Application Example

Ⅲ What A/D Converter Includes?

1) Sampling Rate
The sampling rate indicates the rate at which the analog signal is converted into a digital signal, which is related to the manufacturing technology of the ADC device and depends on the judgment ability provided by the comparator in the ADC.
Generally speaking, the sampling rate and resolution are mutually restrictive. Each time the sampling rate is doubled, the resolution losses 1bit. This is mainly due to the jitter during sampling, that is, aperture jitter or aperture uncertainty.

 

2) ADC Resolution
The resolution indicates the number of bits after the analog signal is converted into a digital signal. It directly determines the quantization level of the ADC, that is, the minimum analog signal level value that the ADC can distinguish. Assuming that the ADC's input voltage range is (−V, V) and the resolution is N (bit), then the ADC has a 2N quantization level, so that the quantization level is: ΔV=2V/2N, where ΔV is the conversion accuracy. It can be seen from the above formula that the higher the resolution of the ADC and the smaller the voltage input range, the higher its conversion accuracy.

 

3) Signal-to-Noise Ratio (SNR)
The signal-to-noise ratio (SNR) of the ADC reflects the ratio of the root mean square value of the noise-free signal part generated during the quantization process to the root mean square value of the quantization noise. If the input signal is a normalized sine wave 1/2sin(ωt+ψ), the SNR can be determined by the following formula: adc snr formula

Among them, N is the resolution of ADC. It can be seen that the signal-to-noise ratio of the ADC mainly depends on the resolution. Every time the resolution increases by one bit, the SNR will increase by 6dB. However, as the resolution increases, the quantization level of the ADC becomes smaller, and the sampling process is more likely to be disturbed.

 

4) Effective Number of Bits (ENOB)
ENOB is a measure of the dynamic range of an ADC converter. For the actual A/D conversion system, due to the influence of factors such as electrical noise, external interference, and non-linear distortion of analog circuits, it is not enough to measure system performance with ideal resolution. In order to better reflect the system performance, on the basis of the measured SNR, the above factors can be converted into quantization noise to get the ENOB. The calculation formula is as follows: ENOB

ENOB is based on the equation for an ideal ADC's SNR: SNR = 6.02 × N + 1.76 dB, where N is the ADC's resolution.The difference between ENOB and ADC resolution reflects the degree of decrease in sampling accuracy caused by the decrease in SNR(here SNR caused by the error source).

 

5) Non-Linearity Error
Non-linear error is an important accuracy index of the converter, which represents the difference between the actual conversion value of the ADC and the theoretical conversion value. Non-linear errors mainly include two types: Differential Non-Linearity (DNL) errors and Integral Non-Linearity (INL) errors.

 

6) Inter Modulation Distortion (IMD)
When two sinusoidal signals are input to the ADC at the same time, due to the nonlinearity of the device, except the components of these two frequencies, the output spectrum will also produce many distortion products. The resulting distortion is called inter modulation distortion ( IMD, Inter Modulation Distortion), where the value of m+n represents the order of distortion. Among all inter-modulation distortions, the second-order and third-order inter-modulation products are the most important. The former is easily filtered out by a digital filter, while the latter is difficult to filter out.

 

7) Total Harmonic Distortion (THD)
Due to the nonlinearity of the ADC, many high-order harmonics of the input signal appear in the output spectrum. These high-order harmonic components are called harmonic distortion components, and the resulting distortion is called Total Harmonic Distortion. Harmonic distortion and modulation distortion are two different concepts. The former is a distortion of the original signal waveform, even if a single frequency signal passes through the ADC, this phenomenon will occur, while the latter is mutual interference and influence between different frequencies.

ADC Converter with 555 and Arduino

Figure 3. ADC on the Arduino

Ⅳ A/D Converter Applications and ICs

4.1 Analog-to-Digital Converter Applications

Most ADC applications today belong to Four Segments: 
(a) Data acquisition
(b) Precision industrial measurement
(c) Voiceband and audio
(d) High speed (sampling rates greater than about 5 MSPS)

4.2 Analog-to-Digital Converter IC Modes Explained

There are many ADC ICs available in the market which can be used along to do conversion. Here lists several ADC ICs and their features and specifications as ADC selection references.

AD7621

16-Bit, 2 LSB INL, 3 MSPS PulSAR® ADC, High sampling rate, Available in a 48-lead LQFP or a 48-lead LFCSP

⭕AD7641

18-Bit, 2 MSPS, Charge Redistribution SAR ADC

 

  • 16 Bits Resolution with No Missing Codes
  • No Pipeline Delay ( SAR architecture )
  • Differential Input Range: ±VREF (VREF up to 2.5V)
  • Throughput:

  3 MSPS (Wideband Warp and Warp Mode)

  2 MSPS (Normal Mode)

  1.25 MSPS (Impulse Mode)

  • INL ±2 LSB Max (±30 ppm of FS)
  • SINAD: 89 dB Typ @ 100 kHz
  • THD: -103 dB Typ @ 100 kHz
  • Parallel (16 or 8 bits bus) and Serial 5 V/3.3 V/2.5 V Interface
  • SPI®/QSPI™/MICROWIRE™/DSP Compatible
  • On-board Low Drift Reference with Buffer and Temperature Sensor
  • Single 2.5 V Supply Operation
  • Power Dissipation: 70 mW Typ @ 3 MSPS With REF
  • 18-bit resolution with no missing codes
  • 2.5 V internal low drift reference
  • Throughput:

  2 MSPS (Warp mode)

  1.5 MSPS (Normal mode)

  • Differential input range: ± VREF (VREF up to 2.5 V)
  • INL: ±2 LSB typical
  • No pipeline delay (SAR architecture)
  • Parallel (18-, 16-, or 8-bit bus)
  • Serial 5 V/3.3 V/2.5 V interface
  • SPI®/QSPI™/MICROWIRE™/DSP compatible
  • On-board low drift reference with buffer and temperature sensor

 

⭕AD7908

8-Channel, 1 MSPS, 8-Bit ADC with Sequencer in 20-Lead TSSOP

⭕AD7918

8-Channel, 1 MSPS, 10-Bit ADC with Sequencer in 20-Lead TSSOP

  • Fast throughput rate: 1 MSPS
  • Specified for AVDD of 2.7 V to 5.25 V
  • Low Power:

  6.0 mW max at 1 MSPS with 3 V supply

  13.5 mW max at 1 MSPS with 5 V supply

  • Eight (single-ended) inputs with sequencer
  • Wide input bandwidth: AD7928, 70 dB min SINAD at 50 kHz input frequency
  • Flexible power/serial clock speed management
  • No pipeline delays
  • High speed serial interface SPI®/QSPI™/MICROWIRE™/DSP compatible
  • Fast throughput rate: 1 MSPS
  • Specified for AVDD of 2.7 V to 5.25 V
  • Low Power:

  6.0 mW max at 1 MSPS with 3 V supply

  13.5 mW max at 1 MSPS with 5 V supply

  • Eight (single-ended) inputs with sequencer
  • Wide input bandwidth: AD7928, 70 dB min SINAD at 50 kHz input frequency
  • Flexible power/serial clock speed management
  • No pipeline delays
  • High speed serial interface SPI®/QSPI™/MICROWIRE™/DSP compatible

 

⭕AD7928

8-Channel, 1 MSPS, 12-Bit ADC with Sequencer in 20-Lead TSSOP

⭕AD5555

Precision DUAL 16-Bit 14-Bit-DACs in Compact TSSOP Packages

  • Fast throughput rate: 1 MSPS
  • Specified for AVDD of 2.7 V to 5.25 V
  • Low Power:

  6.0 mW max at 1 MSPS with 3 V supply

  13.5 mW max at 1 MSPS with 5 V supply

  • Eight (single-ended) inputs with sequencer
  • Wide input bandwidth: AD7928, 70 dB min SINAD at 50 kHz input frequency
  • Flexible power/serial clock speed management
  • No pipeline delays
  • High speed serial interface SPI®/QSPI™/MICROWIRE™/DSP compatible
  • 14-bit resolution
  • ±1 LSB DNL monotonic
  • ±1 LSB INL
  • 2 mA full-scale current ±20%, with VREF = 10 V
  • 0.5 μs settling time
  • 2Q multiplying reference-input 6.9 MHz BW
  • Zero or midscale power-up preset
  • Zero or midscale dynamic reset
  • 3-wire interface
  • Compact TSSOP-16 package

 

⭕AD8230

16 V Rail-to-Rail, Zero-Drift, Precision Instrumentation Amplifier

⭕AD7799

3-Channel, Low Noise, Low Power, 24-Bit, Sigma Delta ADC with On-Chip In-Amp

  • Resistor programmable gain range: 101 to 1000
  • Supply voltage range: ±4 V to ±8 V
  • Rail-to-rail input and output
  • Maintains performance over −40°C to +125°C
  • Excellent ac and dc performance

  110 dB minimum CMR @ 60 Hz, G = 10 to 1000

  10 μV maximum offset voltage (RTI, ±5 V operation)

  50 nV/°C maximum offset drift

  20 ppm maximum gain nonlinearity

  • RMS noise:

  27 nV at 4.17 Hz (AD7799)

  65 nV at 16.7 Hz (AD7799)

  40 nV at 4.17 Hz (AD7798)

  85 nV at 16.7 Hz (AD7798)

  • Current: 380 μA typical
  • Power-down: 1 μA maximum
  • Low noise, programmable gain, instrumentation amp
  • Update rate: 4.17 Hz to 470 Hz 3 differential inputs
  • Internal clock oscillator
  • Simultaneous 50 Hz/60 Hz rejection
  • Reference detect
  • Low-side power switch
  • Programmable digital outputs
  • Burnout currents
  • Power supply: 2.7 V to 5.25 V

 

⭕AD9444

14-Bit, 80 MSPS A/D Converter

AD9445

14-Bit, 105 MSPS / 125 MSPS A/D Converter

  • 80 MSPS guaranteed sampling rate
  • 100 dB two-tone SFDR with 69.3 MHz and 70.3 MHz
  • 73.1 dB SNR with 70 MHz input
  • 97 dBc SFDR with 70 MHz input
  • Excellent linearity

  DNL = ±0.4 LSB typical

  INL = ±0.6 LSB typical

  • 1.2 W power dissipation
  • 3.3 V and 5 V supply operation
  • 2.0 V p-p differential full-scale input
  • LVDS outputs (ANSI-644 compatible)
  • Data format select
  • Output clock available
  • 125 MSPS guaranteed sampling rate (AD9445BSV-125)
  • 100 dB two-tone SFDR with 30 MHz and 31 MHz
  • 73.5 dB SNR with 70 MHz input
  • 85 dBc SFDR with 225 MHz input
  • Excellent linearity

  DNL = ±0.25 LSB typical

  INL = ±0.8 LSB typical

  • 2.3 W power dissipation
  • 3.3 V and 5 V supply operation
  • 2.0 V p-p to 3.2 V p-p differential full-scale input
  • LVDS outputs (ANSI-644 compatible) or CMOS outputs
  • Data format select (Offset Binary or 2’s compliment)
  • Output clock available

 

⭕AD9446

16-Bit, 80 MSPS / 100 MSPS A/D Converter

AD9235

12-Bit, 20/40/65 MSPS, 3 V Analog-to-Digital Converter

  • 100 MSPS guaranteed sampling rate (AD9446-100)
  • 83.6 dBFS SNR with 30 MHz input

(3.8 V p-p input, 80 MSPS)

  • 82.6 dBFS SNR with 30 MHz input

(3.2 V p-p input, 80 MSPS)

  • 89 dBc SFDR with 30 MHz input

(3.2 V p-p input, 80 MSPS)

  • 95 dBFS 2-tone SFDR with 9.8 MHz and

10.8 MHz (100 MSPS)

l 60 fsec rms jitter

  • Excellent linearity

  DNL = DNL = ±0.4 LSB typical

  INL = ±3.0 LSB typical

  • 2.0 V p-p to 4.0 V p-p differential full-scale input
  • Buffered analog inputs
  • LVDS outputs (ANSI-644 compatible) or CMOS outputs
  • Data format select (offset binary or twos complement)
  • Output clock available
  • 3.3 V and 5 V supply operation
  • Single +3 V Supply Operation (2.7 V to 3.6 V)
  • SNR = 70 dBc to Nyquist at 65 MSPS
  • SFDR = 85 dBc to Nyquist at 65 MSPS
  • Low Power: 300 mW at 65 MSPS
  • On-Chip Reference and SHA
  • Differential Input with 500 MHz Bandwidth
  • DNL of ±0.4 LSB
  • Flexible Analog Input: 1 V p-p to 2 V p-p
  • Offset Binary or Twos Complement Data Format
  • Clock Duty Cycle Stabilizer
  • Pin out Migration to Either AD9215, AD9236, AD9245

 

Frequently Asked Questions about Analog to Digital Converter (ADC Basic)

1. What is the use of analog to digital converter?
Analog-to-digital converters, abbreviated as “ADCs,” work to convert analog (continuous, infinitely variable) signals to digital (discrete-time, discrete-amplitude) signals. In more practical terms, an ADC converts an analog input, such as a microphone collecting sound, into a digital signal.

 

2. What are the types of analog to digital converters?
There are really five major types of ADCs in use today:
Successive Approximation (SAR) ADC
Delta-sigma (ΔΣ) ADC
Dual Slope ADC
Pipelined ADC
Flash ADC

 

3. Which chip is used in analog to digital?
An A/D converter is used to convert an analog signal like voltage to digital form so that it can be read and processed by a microcontroller. Some microcontrollers have built-in A/D converters. It is also possible to connect an external A/D converter to any type of microcontroller.

 

4. Which circuit is used in analog to digital converter?
Analog to Digital Converter (ADC) is an electronic integrated circuit used to convert the analog signals such as voltages to digital or binary form consisting of 1s and 0s. Most of the ADCs take a voltage input as 0 to 10V, -5V to +5V, etc., and correspondingly produces digital output as some sort of a binary number.

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pinglun 5 comments

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    I want to get the output from my TT into my PC (HP Envy beats audio) to do some sonic analysis of different record cleaning methods and products. I will most likely use Audacity or Reason as the software. My options for connecting an A2D converter to my PC are; USB or a single 3.5mm jack. What would you recommend for a decent analog to digital converter for around $500?

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      Korg DS-DAC-10R 1-Bit USB Digital-to-Audio Converter.
      Mytek Stereo 96 ADC Converter is a little above your price point. ✅

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    • Straussia on 2021/6/15 11:03:48

    Hi, I'm currently looking at the Benchmark ADC, Tascam DA-3000 and the PS Audio Analog Phono Converter. I know the Ayre is out there but it's very pricey at around $3K. If anyone could could share their experiences with any of the products I listed above that would be greatly apprecaited.

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    • pingluntus
    • Bryson on 2021/6/18 10:53:23

    There are, of course, many uses for A/D converters, such as: (i) Ripping your precious Vinyl, (ii) Ripping your precious analog tapes, (iii) Professional recording, and (iv) DSP measurement test gear. In most cases one would probably like to use the absolute best A/D converter, supposing the analog rig is top quality too. What do you think is currently the best sounding analog to digital converter?

      • pingluntu
      • author on 2021/6/19 10:33:29
        author

      Re:

      Some candidates (updated):
      - Merging Horus/Hapi
      - Grimm Audio AD1
      - MSB Platinum Studio (PCM)
      - Forssell MADA-2 (PCM)
      - Ayre QA 9 Pro
      - Prism ADA-8XR
      - Lavry AD122-96 MX or AD10
      - EMM Labs ADC8 MK IV
      - Prism Orpheus
      - Lynx Aurora 8
      - Lynx HILO
      - Metric Halo
      - Apogee Symphony
      - Antelope Audio Eclipse 384
      - Weiss ADC2

    • pingluntus
    • Greyson on 2021/7/3 15:04:35

    Hi, I have an old but good turntable and a phono preamp. I am able to record LPs as MP3 files (using the "Line In" jack) and play back the files. I would like to convert the recordings to true digital format. I have scanned the forum and the user manual and cannot find a clear answer. Do I need to buy an analog-to-digital converter or can Audacity convert the analog recordings to digital?

      • pingluntu
      • author on 2021/7/6 10:15:36
        author

      Re:

      If your computer really has a line-in, (not mic-in), then you don't have to buy any more hardware:
      that means your computer already has an in-built A/D converter which will accept line-out from the turntable. 🙂

    • pingluntus
    • Lincoln on 2021/7/28 14:28:23

    Something, when exactly should I use the ADC with raspberry pi, while sometimes I see some people using it with the pi and some do not using it.

      • pingluntu
      • author on 2021/7/29 11:59:47
        author

      Re:

      Use it when you want to measure an analog voltage. E.g. for a voltage in the range from 0V to 3V3. I use mine to measure the voltage of a solar panel.

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