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Performance Characteristics of Instruments

Static Characteristics

Resolution/Least count
Stabilty and drift
Dead Band and Hysteresis
Input Imedance
Output Impedance
Span & Range

Performance Characteristics of Instruments

Dynamic Charcteristics
Speed of response
Measurement lag/ dealy
Settling time
Dyanmic range
Time constant(time to reach 63.2% of Final

Uncertainties in analytical measurements

Precision of an analysis: Precision of an
analytical measurement means
repeatability or reproducibility of the
results of an experiment performed
several times under the same conditions.
Precision is measured by the standard
deviation of replicate analysis.

Precision Standard Deviation

The smaller the standard deviation, the more precise
the analysis.
Standard Deviation

Xi = each individual reading in of n observations of

the same variable.
Precision(%) P= ( / Xmean)100
Sometimes we define Xmean =

Estimation of analytical precision: In practical

analytical terms, the most efficient method for
estimating precision of an analytical method is to
use replicate analysis of randomly selected samples.

A very simple example:
10 replicate measurements of Cr (g/g) in a rock
sample are :247, 250, 249, 262, 245, 257, 246,
251,271, 248.
The mean Cr (g/g) = Xmean ( )=252.6
The standard deviation SD( ) = 8.3
Precision expressed in percentage, relative to
the mean P =(8.3/252.6)100= 3.3%
The Cr (g/g) value in the sample = 253 + 3%

Accuracy=[Mod{actual value-measured mean
value}/actual value]*100
A very simple example:
6 replicate laboratory measurements of iron
(g/g) in samples of spinach standard are : 480,
510, 490, 470, 526, 473.
The certified reference value of the standard is
550 + 20 (g/g).
The mean value of iron (g/g) = 491.5
Precision = 4.5%
So, the observed value is 491 + 22.
Accuracy = ( mod(550 491))/ 550 ) *100 =
So, even though precision may be good (4.5%),
the accuracy may be poor (11%).

Accuracy versus Precision

(shooting at a target)
Not accurate or Precise

Accurate and NOT Precise

Precise but NOT accurate

Accurate AND Precise

Uncertainties in analytical measurements

Errors in measurements
Gross errors: These depend upon care and vigilance
observed by the experimenter and can be minimized
Systematic errors: These are caused by inherent
shortcomings of instruments and components used in
the system. They can be eliminated by applying
correction factors
Random Errors: These errors are due to sources
and causes that can not be specified. They are
uncontrollable and unavoidable. Statistical analysis
can improve the measurement.

Errors in measurements
Gross Errors:

Lack of knowledge of instrument

Zero adjustment
Loading effects
Mirror parallax
Different operating conditions
Ware and tear of the instruments

Errors in measurements
Systematic Errors:

Static and dynamic characteristic of the instruments.

Improper calibration of instruments.
Environmental effects on instuments
Instrument loading

Random Errors
The Source for these errors are
fluctuations in supply
Influence of RFI
Air currents
Movements in surroundings
Weather change

Measurements:Basic Concepts
Bio potential, pressure, flow, dimensions, displacement (velocity,
acceleration, force), impedance, temperature, chemical concentrations

Transduction: convert one form of energy to another;
Sensor: converts measurand to an electric signal
Properties: minimize energy extracted, minimally invasive,
respond only to form of energy present in measurand

Other definitions of Transducer

Mechanical transducer: They respond to
changes in physical conditions of a system and
deliver output signal proportional to the
measurand, but of different form and nature(non
electrical output)
Electrical Transducer: They respond to
changes in physical conditions of a system and
deliver output signal proportional to the
measurand, which are by and large electrical in
Compound Transducers: Some transducer
may have compound stages of transducers to
increase the sensitivity (load cell)

Performance :Range and Span

Range: limits between which the input
can vary.
Span: maximum value of the input minus
the minimum value
Eg: load cell for the measurement of
forces: range of 0 to 50kN, span = 50kN

Error = measured value true value
Eg, if actual temperature is 24 deg C, and reading is 25
deg C, then error is +1 deg. If actual temperature is 26
deg C, error = -1deg.

Performance :Accuracy
Accuracy = extent to which the value indicated
by a measurement system might be wrong.
Summation of all possible errors, as well as
accuracy to which the transducer has been
calibrated, often expressed as a percentage of
the full range value.
Eg: +/- 5% of range. If range is 0 to 200degC,
then the reading will be within +/-10degC of the
true reading

Performance: Sensitivity
The relationship indicating how much output you
get per unit input(=output/input). For example, a
resistance thermometer may have a sensitivity
of 0.5./degC
Sometimes it also indicates the sensitivity of
inputs other than that being measured, for
example, environmental changes (eg,
temperature changes or fluctuations in the main
voltage power supply).

Performance :Hysteresis error

Transducers might
give different
outputs from the
same value of
quantity depending
on whether that
value was reached
by a continuously
increasing or
decreasing change.
This effect is called

Performance :Nonlinearity Errors

Most transducers have a linear
relationship between input and output
Not true in general error is defined as
maximum difference from the straight line
Different methods for the numerical
expression of the nonlinearity error.

Nonlinearity Errors using 1. End points 2. Best

fit 3. Best fit through zero

Performance: Repeatability, Stability/Drift

Repeatability: Ability to give the same output for
repeated applications of the same input value.
Stability: Ability to give the same output when
used to measure a constant input over a period
of time. Drift is the change in output that occurs
over time (% of full range output)
Zero drift: when zero input is applied.

Performance :Dead band

Dead band :Range of input values for
which there is no output.
Dead time: length of time from the
application of an input until the output
begins to respond and change.

Performance :Resolution
If input varies continuously, output for some
sensors may change in small steps (example:
Resolution = smallest change in the input value
that will produce an measurable change in the

Performance :Output impedance

Necessary to know loading effects, when the
sensor is interfaced with an electric circuit.
Inclusion of the sensor might significantly affect
the behavior of the system to which it is
Sensor can be connected either in series or in

Performance: Static and Dynamic Characteristics

Static = steady-state
Dynamic: Response to step input
Response time (reach 95% of step)
Time constant (the 63.2% response time)
Rise time (time from 10% to 90 or 95% of
Settling time (time for output to settle to within
2% of steadystate)
These exact statistics may change slightly
look them up on spec sheets.


Performance :Displacement,
Position and Proximity
Displacement: how much something has been

Position: where an object is with respect to a

reference point

Proximity: a form of position sensor, detect

when an object is within some critical distance of
the sensor (on/off)

Position sensors
How do we select?
Size of displacement (inches, millimeters,
Is displacement linear or angular?
Resolution required
Accuracy required
What material the measured object is made
of (some sensors work only with
ferromagnetic metals, some only with

Main types
Contact sensors: measured object touches the sensors
Non-contacting :no physical contact
Linear displacement contact: sensing shaft in direct
contact with the object monitored. Displacement of this shaft

Angular displacement contact: the rotation of the

shaft might drive, through gears, the rotation of
the transducer.

Non-contacting sensors: change in air pressure, inductance

or capacitors.

A resistance element with a sliding contact that
can be moved over the length of the element.
Can be used for linear or rotary displacements.
Displacement is converted into a potential
Rotary potentiometer: circular wire-wound track
(single turn or helical)
fixed (input)

Voltage between 1 and 3 is a
fraction of Voltage between 1 and 2
which is the input voltage
Track has constant resistance per
unit length (or unit angle)
Output is proportional to angle
through which slider has moved.
An angular displacement can
be converted into a potential

Resistive Sensors - Potentiometers

Translational and Rotational

Translational or angular displacement
is proportional to resistance.

Taken from luennot/Luento3.pdf

Wire wound track: voltage output changes of
one step per turn. If the potentiometer has N
turns, then its resolution is 100/N (as a
Resolution limited by the diameter of the wire
used, typically ranges from 1.5mm to 0.5mm.
Nonlinear errors: 0.1% to 1%
Track resistance: 20. to 200k .
Conductive plastic has better specs

Strain-Gauged Elements
Electrical resistance strain gauge
A metal wire, metal foil strip, or a strip of
semiconductor material, which is wafer like and can
be stuck on surfaces like a postage stamp. When
subject to strain, its resistance R, changes, with the
fraction R/R being proportional to strain() as:
(R/R)/ = G. G is called the gauge factor.
Strain is (change in length/original length). The
resistance change of a strain gauge is the change
in length of the element to which the strain gauge is
Typical G: about 2.0 for metals, +/-100 for

Resistive Sensors - Strain Gages

Resistance is related to length and area of cross-section of
the resistor and resistivity of the material as

By taking logarithms and differentiating both sides, the

equation becomes


Strain gauge component is related by poissons ratio as

Resistive Sensors Strain Gage

Gage Factor of a strain gage

Think of this as a
Transfer Function!
Input is strain
G is a measure of sensitivity

Output is dR

Put mercury strain gauge around an arm or chest to measure

force of muscle contraction or respiration, respectively
Used in prosthesis or neonatal apnea detection, respectively

Resistive Sensors - Strain Gauges

Where can you use it in the body?

E.g. prosthetic, or artificial hip/knew?

Strain gages are generally mounted on cantilevers and

diaphragms and measure the deflection of these.
More than one strain gage is generally used and the readout
generally employs a bridge circuit.

Strain Gage Mounting

Blood pressure
transducer (e.g.
Atomic force

Bridge Circuits


Wheatstones Bridge


Real Circuit and

Sensor Interface



Load cell

Principle of Load cell operation

Load cells measure forces and moments by sensing

the deformation of elastic elements such as springs.
Usually it comprises of two parts

the spring: deforms under the load (usually

made of steel)

sensing element: measures the deformation

(usually a strain gauge glued to the deforming

Load cell measurement accuracy is limited by

hysteresis and creep, that can be minimized by using
high-grade steel and labor intensive fabrication.

Strain gauges

Circular shapes
Metal foil



Strain gauges
Gauge factor supplied by manufacturer, needs
calibrations for samples in a batch.
Known problem with strain gauges:
Resistance changes with both strain and temperature
Semiconductor strain gauges are much more sensitive to
temperature changes than metal gauges.
Some displacement sensors have strain gauges
attached to flexible elements of various shapes .
measure displacement or deformation of flexible element
(OK for linear displacements of about 1 to 30mm, error
about +/- 1% of full range).

Optical encoders
Encoder: a device that provides a digital output as a
result of linear or angular displacement.
Position encoders are of two types: incremental (changes
in position) vs. absolute encoders (actual)
Angular encoders :Beam of light passes through slots in
a disk and are detected by a light sensor. When the disc
is rotated, a pulsed output is produced by the sensor,
with the number of pulses being proportional to the angle
through which the disc rotates.
Angular rotation of disc (and of shaft rotating it) can be
determined by the number of pulses produced since
some reference position.

Optical encoders
In practice three
concentric tracks are
Inner track is used to
locate home position.
Other two tracks, with
suitable spacing, allow
for the determination of
If 60 slots per revolution
(360deg), then resolution
is 360/60 = 6deg.

Optical encoders

For example, the HEDS-5000 series from

Hewlett Packard, are supplied for
mounting on shafts and contain an LED
light source and a code wheel. Interface
integrated circuits are also available.

Hall effect sensors

When a beam of charged particles passes
through a magnetic force field, forces act
on the particles and the beam is deflected
from its straight line path.
A current flowing in a conductor is like a
beam of moving charges and thus can be
deflected by a magnetic field.
This effect, the Hall effect, was discovered
by E.R. Hall in 1879.

Hall effect sensors

Electrons are deviated to
one side of the plate
becomes negatively
charged, and a transverse
potential difference V
If a constant current source
is used with a particular
sensor, the Hall voltage is
a measure of the magnetic
flux density.

An interesting
application: traffic

Inductive Sensors

Beach comber!
Mine sweeper



An inductor is basically a
coil of wire over a core
(usually ferrous)
It responds to electric or
magnetic fields

Displacement Sensor

A transformer is made of at
least two coils wound over
the core: one is primary and
another is secondary
Inductors and tranformers work only for ac signals

Inductive displacement sensor (LVDT) I

A linear variable displacement transformer (LVDT) is a 3coil inductive transducer.
Mutual inductance between the
coils is changed as the position of
a high permeability rod is moved
S1 vout(t)
between them :

vin(t) P

ferrite rod

v S1 ( t ) k1v in ( t ), v S2 ( t ) k 2 v in ( t )


Secondary windings are connected

in series opposition
v out ( t ) v S1 ( t ) v S2 ( t )

When the rod is centred, equal

secondary voltages are induced,
s.t. the output voltage is zero

Inductive displacement sensor (LVDT) II

vin(t) P




As the rod moves from the

centre, as shown, k1 increases,
while k2 decreases
vout(t) is linearly related to the
change in position of the rod

AC voltage source range is limited by extent of coils no

moving parts
Example application : repetitive displacements in robotics

Inductive Sensors - LVDT


Linear Variable
Differential Transformer

An LVDT is used as a sensitive displacement sensor: for example, in a cardiac

assist device or a basic research project to study displacement produced by a
contracting muscle.

Question: How can I

detect small change in
How does an elevator
keypad or certain contact
less computer keypads

Capacitive Sensors
Electrolytic or
ceramic capacitors
are most common

e.g. An electrolytic
capacitor is made
of Aluminum
evaporated on
either side of a
very thin plastic
film (or electrolyte)

Capacitive Sensors
Other Configurations

a. Variable Area Mode

b. Variable Dielectric Mode

c. Differential Mode

Piezoelectric Sensors
What is piezoelectricity ?
Strain causes a
redistribution of charges
and results in a net
electric dipole (a dipole
is kind of a battery!)

Different transducer applications:


A piezoelectric material
produces voltage by
distributing charge
(under mechanical

Piezoelectric Sensors

31 denotes the
crystal axis

Above equations are valid when force is applied in the

L,W or t directions respectively.

Piezoelectric Sensors - Circuitry


to hold


The Equivalent Circuit

Taken from Webster, Medical Instrumentation

Temperature sensors

Bimetallic strips
Resistance temperature detectors (RTD)
Thermodiodes and transistors
Thermoelectric Thermocouples
Radiation Thermometry
Fiber Optic Sensor

Temperature measurement with RTD

Typical characteristics of RTD

Temperature measurement with RTD

For RTD made of platinum, the temperature profile is

quite linear and can be represented by
0 (T T0 )

For RTD made of copper, the characteristics can

be approximated by
0 (T T0 ) 1 (T T0 ) 2

Temperature measurement with RTD

A platinum RTD is connected as one arm of a Wheatstone bridge
as shown

The fixed resistors, R2 and R3 are 25. The RTD has a

resistance of 25 at 0oC, and the coefficient of resistance of
the RTD is

0.00395 / C

Temperature measurement with RTD

A temperature measurement is made by placing a platinum
RTD in the measuring environment and balancing the bridge
by adjusting R1 to a new value of 37.36 .
Determine the temperature of the measuring environment
At balanced condition, we have



37.36 25(1 T )

We can find that the temperature is 126o C.

RTDs are made of materials whose resistance changes in
accordance with temperature
Metals such as platinum, nickel and copper are commonly
They exhibit a positive temperature coefficient.

A commercial ThermoWorks RTD probe

Over a small dynamic range a

thermistor can be linearized

Thermistors are made from semiconductor
Generally, they have a negative
temperature coefficient (NTC), that is NTC
thermistors are most commonly used.

Ro is the resistance at a reference

point (in the limit, absolute 0).

Temperature measurement with thermistors

The mathematical relationship

describing a thermistor can often
be expressed as

R R0 e

(1 / T 1 / T0 )

As temperature increases, the

resistance decreases.
R0 is the resistance at T0, and is
a parameter ranging from 3500 to

Temperature measurement with thermistors


A thermistor is placed in a 100oC environment,

and its resistance is measured at 20,000. The
material constant, , for this thermistor is 4000.
If the thermistor is then used to measure a
particular temperature, and its resistance is
measured as 500 , determine the
environmental temperature being measured.

Temperature measurement with thermistors

From the basic equation of thermistor, we can have

1 1
ln( )
R0 T0

110 .159 0 C
ln( )

R0 T0

Seebeck Effect
When a pair of dissimilar metals are joined at one end, and there is a
temperature difference between the joined ends and the open ends,
thermal emf is generated, which can be measured in the open ends.
This forms the basis of thermocouples.

In a bimetallic strip, each metal has a different thermal coefficientthis results in

electromagnetic force/emf or bending of the metals.

Thermocouples: Example
A type-J thermocouple circuit below is used to measure the
temperature T1 . The thermocouple junction # 2 is maintained
by 32o F. The voltage output is measured to be 15 mV.
Determine the temperature T1.
The temperature T can be read off from the graph for
type-J thermocouple to be 530o F.

Temperature measurement with thermocouples

Standard Thermocouple Compositions

Temperature measurement with thermocouples


Radiation Thermometry
Governed by Wiens Displacement Law which says that at
the peak of the emitted radiant flux per unit area per unit
wavelength occurs when
T=2.898x10-3 moK


Force sensors

cell: cylindrical tube

to which strain gauges
have been attached.
For forces up to 10MN
Also exist in the 0-5N up
to the 0-50kN range
(metal element for strain
Nonlinear errors about +/0.03% of full range,
hysteresis error =/-0.02%,
repeatability within +/0.02% of full range

Light sensors

Fluid sensors

Fluid Pressure:
Piezoelectric sensors
Tactile sensors
Liquid Flow:
Orifice plate
Turbine meter
Liquid level:
Differential pressure sensors

Liquid Flow Meter

Displacement type (measuring Displacement)
Inferential type( measuring Velocity of flow)

Magnetic Flow meter

Work on the principle of faraday effect

Turbine Flow meter

work on the principle of turbine rotation

Magnetic Flow meter

E=Induced voltage
B=Magentic flux
L=length of the
conductor(fluid) in
V=velocity of the
conductor(fluid) in
Accuracy=+ .5 to + 2%

Magnetic coil
Induced voltage E

Magnetic coil
Q=Volumetric flow rate
V=fluid velocity
A=cross sectional area of pipe
Q=K*E, where K=A/(C*B*L)

Magnetic Flow meter


It can handle slurry and greasy materials

It can handle corrosive liquids
It has low pressure drop
Obstruction less
Available in large sizes and capacity(2.54 to 2540mm)
Capable of handling low flow and high flow


Relatively expensive
Works with fluid having adequate conductivity
Relatively heavy due to coils
Pipe must be full at all times

Turbine Flow Meter

K=Pulses /volume
unit(turbine constant)
T=Time constant in min
F=Frequency in Hz
Q=Volume Flow,
Accuracy=+ .25 to +5%
Flow range=0.1 to 50,000


Output Voltage

Turbine fins
Turbine wheel


Turbine Flow Meter


Good accuracy
Excellent repeatability
Fairly low pressure drop
Easy to install and maintain
Good Temperature and pressure rating
Can be compensated for viscosity

High cost
Limited use in slurry
Problem caused by non lubricating fluids

Sensor selection
Nature of the measurement required: variable to be
measured, nominal value, range of values, accuracy
required, required speed of measurement, reliability
required, environmental conditions under which the
measurement is being made.
Nature of the output required from the sensor, which
determines the signal conditioning requirements in order
to give suitable output signals from the measurement.
The possible sensors can be identified, taking into
account such factors as range, accuracy, linearity, speed
of response, reliability, maintainability, life, power supply
requirements, ruggedness, availability, cost.
Cannot be decoupled from signal conditioning

Bridge circuits
Bridge circuit is used quite often to measure low level voltages,
such as the outputs from RTD, thermister, or thermocouples.
In the case of a balanced
bridge, there is no
voltage drop between, B
and C, hence, Ig = 0.

I1 R1 I 3 R3 0
I 2 R2 I 4 R4 0

Bridge circuits (Cont)


I1 I 2


I3 I4

Therefore, the following condition is established for a

balanced bridge:

R 2 R4

R1 R3
Any change in one arm of the bridge will destroy this
balance condition. However, one can use the measured
voltage across the bridge to calculate changes in one

Bridge circuits (Cont)

Suppose that a volt meter of infinite impedance (Ig = 0) is
used to measure the voltage across points B and C.
Because (Ig = 0),

I1 I 2

The voltage drop will be:

E0 I 1 R1 I 3 R3

E0 E i (

R1 R2 R3 R4
Of course, under a balanced condition,

E0 0

Bridge circuits (Cont)

Under this condition, suppose that there is a change in
R1, such that:

R ' 1 R1 R1
The corresponding change in voltage across B and C is

R' 1
E0 E i ( '

R 1 R 2 R3 R4
To simplify the analysis, if we assume that:

R1 R2 R3 R4 R

Bridge circuits (Cont)


( R / R )
4 2( R / R )

4 E
E i 2 E

Bridge circuits (Cont)

An RTD is connected in a Wheatstone bridge as shown:

Under a balanced condition, the parameters are given as


R1 100

R2 R3 500

The temperature constant of the RTD:

0.00395 o / C

Bridge circuits (Cont)

(a) What is the value of RRTD under the balanced condition ?
(b) As temperature changes, it is found that the maintain a
new balance, the new value for R1 has to be:

R1 103.95
Determine the change in temperature.
(a) Using the relation:



RRTD R1 100

early integrated circuits:

analog ...

Vo = - A V will saturate at power voltage unless V very

from which it follows algebraically that Vo = - (Rf /Ri) Vi
(independent of A as long as A >> Rf /Ri)

Operational amplifier
operational amplifier input impedance is (R i||Rf)
okay for interfacing low impedance sources to analog-todigital converters etc
but not for small signals from high impedance sources
especially when high common mode signals are present
e.g., the millivolt difference in two signals each near 10 volts

instrumentation amplifier design gives each input

its own amplifier, cross-references them to reduce
common mode sensitivity, then differences them
with an ordinary op amp

Instrumentation amplifier

A General Measurement System:

An Instrument, for example


Experiment, etc.




Processing /

Functional Block Diagram

A General Measurement System:

An Instrument, for example






Functional Block Diagram

Processing /

What is data acquisition and data logging ?

Real Time Data Acquisition relates to data being
acquired and used in the same time frame, such as
when monitoring or controlling a system or process
Data Logging is when acquired data is stored or logged
for later use or analysis. Involves some form of memory.

What is data acquisition and data logging ?

Data acquisition and data logging is not a complex or

mysterious science as viewed by some
Data acquisition in its simplest form could be to measure
the length of a piece of string with a ruler
Data logging in its simplest form could be to write that
measured length down on a sheet of paper

A data acquisition or data logging system

A data acquisition or data logging system generally
includes the following components:
sensors or transducers which provide the fundamental
information of the parameters to be measured
a device to convert the primary signal from the sensors into a
form compatible with information processing systems
a computer or other controller which supervises the overall
system, and manages the generated data

Plan your task

Before you start

What am I trying to measure

How am I going to measure
How accurately do I want measure
How often do I need to measure

Calculations, Data reduction, Alarms

How am I going to recover my data
What am I going to do with my data
Post processing

Parameters to measure
There are many different parameters for which sensors or
transducers are commonly available

pressure, force, mass, weight
velocity, acceleration, vibration
strain, stress, distortion, fatigue
flow, volume, level
length, width, depth, thickness, displacement
state, pulse, counter
composition, concentration

Types of sensors
Sensors produce an electrical output that is proportional to the
quantity of the parameter being sensed
Electrical output from sensors can be

Voltage, direct or alternating

Current , current loop
Resistance, conductance
Binary states or pulses (counts)
Serial data - RS232, RS422, RS485, SDI-12
Parallel data - BCD, Gray Code, quadrature encoded

Reading information from sensors

Many sensors produce an analog signal, such as voltage, current,
resistance, frequency, etc.
Analog signals are measured by a process of analog to digital
conversion or ADC
Important characteristics of ADC are

common mode range
electrical noise rejection

Number of channels
Most data acquisition systems have a single analog to digital
converter, and many input channels
Input channels are selected for measurement by a switch or
multiplexer (mux), which may be sequential or random. Switching
may be by relay or solid state.
Only one channel can be measured at a time
Consideration must be given to sensor bounce when a sensor is
selected for measurement

Data recovery and transfer

Data can be recovered from data acquisition systems
and data loggers in various ways
Serial comms interface via direct connect, modem, cell
phone, radio, satellite
PCMCIA - modem, cell phone, LAN, memory card
Network port - Ethernet, field bus, proprietary, etc
Universal Serial Bus (USB)

Data can be transferred and published using

Local Ethernet network
Intranet - email, web pages
Internet - email, world wide web pages

Data processing and reporting

Collected data is analyzed and reported using any of
generic packages such as
ASCII text editors

general purpose data processing packages

proprietary host software packages

Other functionality
In addition to the core functionality of data acquisition,
modern data acquisition and data logging systems have
other functionality including

real-time calculations, statistics, FFT, etc

alarms testing for out of range conditions
control feedback to the measured system or process
a range of communications and memory options etc

Data acquisition outline

General scheme of a data acquisition hardware

(one channel):


- Offset,
filtering (analog)



Current trends: multi-channel (simultaneous

sampling), microprocessor- controlled
Special considerations:

Correlate sampling type, sampling frequency (Nyquist

criterion), and sampling time with the dynamic content
of the signal and the flow nature (laminar or turbulent)
Correlate the resolution for the A/D converters with
the magnitude of the signal
Identify sources of errors for each step of signal

Data acquisition components

Signal conditioning
Analog multiplexers
Master controller
Digital input/output
Input/output buffer
Output devices

DA components

Signal conditioning: Output signal from transducers are conditioned prior to sampling
digital conversion.
Analog multiplexer: Is a multiple port switch that permits multiple analog inputs to be
connected to a common output.
Converters: DAS uses an analog to digital converter to sample
and convert the magnitude of the analog signal into binary
Clock: Clock provides master timing for the DAS process by
providing a precise stream of pulses to the various system components.
Master controller: It provides the start and stop sequences for data acquisition to con
actual flow into and out of the system.
I/O device: Some transducers and measuring devices output a digital signal directly wh
enables bypassing the A/D converter of the DAS.
I/O buffer: This is a digital random access memory (RAM) where the data is stored befor
sending it to some other storage device.
Output devices: Permanent storage or display devices (zip disk, hard disk, printer, etc.)

Signal types
Signal classification

A signal that is continuous in time




Contains information about the signal only

at discrete points in time

Assumptions are necessary about the

behavior of the variable during times when
it is not sampled

Sampling rate should be high so that the

signal is assumed constant between the


Useful when data acquisition and

processing are performed using a computer

Digital signal exists at discrete values in


Magnitude of digital signal is determined by


Quantization assigns a single number to

represent a range of magnitude of a
continuous signal.

Preprocessing analog signals

Preprocessing deals with conditioning signals or optimizing signa

levels to obtain desired accuracies.

Filtering : eliminate aliasing, noise removal (filtering)

Low pass filter

High pass filter
Band pass filter
Notch filter

Offset : offset voltage value subtracted from actual signal

Offset helps in assessing the intensity of fluctuation of a signal

Amplification : signal level amplified to optimally suit the hardware it is

fed into
Gain helps to amplify the signal
Generally the values are amplified to take full advantage of the range of A/D

Concept of sampling
frequency :
Digitization (conversion of
analog to digital signal
expressed in the binary system)
of analog signals is performed
at equally spaced time intervals,

Effect of sampling rate

Of great importance is to
determine the appropriate value
of t (sampling data rate).

Accurate sampling of a
fluctuating signal needs to be
made with at least twice the
maximum frequency in the flow
(Nyquist criterion).
Otherwise, aliasing occurs
(confusion between low and
high frequency signal

To eliminate aliasing, all the

information in original data is
removed above the Nyquist
frequency (fA = 1/(2t)).

signal input channels

typical chain:
transducer -> amplifier -> filter -> sample-and-hold -> ADC

high end device replicates this for each analog input

low end device multiplexes to save cost of downstream
typically the amplifier and filter (or signal conditioner) are
replicated per channel, then individual signals are selected in
rotation and presented to the sample-and-hold and ADC
caution 1: signals are sampled at different times:
better to give each channel its own S/H, but its rarely done
caution 2: the manufacturer quotes the total ADC conversion
rate, which may actually be shared by 16 or more channels!

Basic Stages of a Measuring System

Sensor: Uses some natural phenomenon to sense the
variable being measured
Transducer: Converts the sensed information into a
detectable signal
Loading: The measured quantity is always disturbed
Signal Conditioning
Modifies (amplify, filter) the signal for the final stage
Signal Processing
Processes the signal to covert it so that other parameters
can be measured (Fourier transform)
Indication or storing of the measured value
Use of the signal to control its future value

DMA, streaming to disk, etc

tools for tabulation, arithmetic, transforms (FFT,
etc), etc

graphical representation of results in familiar
formats (even for particular journals)

integration with document preparation software
integration with web distribution and publication

A General Measurement System: An

Instrument, for example contd
Processing /

Analog processing

Any device that

accepts analog

Analog display (dial indicator, meter)

Digital display
Simple Alarm
Shut off the system/machine
Send it to another processing unit
Strip chart recorder

What is RS232?
RS232 is a popular communications
protocol for connecting modems and data
acquisition devices to computers. RS232
devices can be plugged straight into the
computer's serial port (also known as the
COM or Comms port). Examples of data
acquisition devices include GPS receivers,
electronic balances, data loggers,
temperature interfaces and other
measurement instruments

The RS232 Standard

RS stands for Recommended Standard. In the
60's a standards committee now known as the
Electronic Industries Association developed an
interface to connect computer terminals to
Over the years this has been updated: the most
commonly used version of the standard is
RS232C (sometimes known as EIA232); the
most recent is RS232E.
The standard defines the electrical and
mechanical characteristics of the connection including the function of the signals and
handshake pins, the voltage levels and
maximum bit rate

The RS232 Standard

If RS232 is a standard why can't I just use a
standard lead to connect together two RS232
ports and expect them to talk to one another?
The answer is that the RS232 standard was
created for just one specific situation and the
difficulties came when it is used for something
else. The standard was defined to connect
computers to modems. Any other use is outside
of the standard. The authors of the standard had
in mind the situation below:

The RS232 Standard

The RS232 Standard

The standard defines how computers ( it calls them Data
Terminal Equipment or DTEs) connect to modems ( it calls
them Data Communication Equipment or DCEs).
The standard says that computers should be fitted with a 25
way plug whilst modems should have a 25 way D socket. The
interconnecting lead between a computer and a modem should
be simply pin1pin1, pin2pin2, etc. The main signals and
their direction of flow are described below.
It is important to note that a signal which is an output from a
computer is an input to a modem and vice versa. This means
that you can never tell from the signal name alone whether it is
an input or an output from a particular piece of equipment.
Also, instead of being a DCE device, a data acquisition device
might be configured as DTE. In this case you need an adaptor
or the RS232 cable wired differently to normal. When the PC is
connected to a DTE instrument, some of the cable wires must
cross over.

The RS232 Standard

The RS232 Standard

Pin assignment
1 Input DCD Data Carrier Detect
2 Input RXD Received Data
3 Output TXD Transmitted Data
4 Output DTR Data Terminal Ready
5 Signal Ground
6 Input DSR Data Set Ready
7 Output RTS Request To Send
8 Input CTS Clear To Send
9 Input RI Ring Indicator

Serial Hardware Connection

9-pin or 25-pin



2 RxD
3 TxD
5 Com
9 RI



Serial Communication

Baud rate bits per second
Data bits inverted logic and LSB first
Parity optional error-checking bit
Stop bits 1, 1.5, or 2 inverted bits at data end
Flow control hardware and software handshaking

The RS232 Standard

TXD Transmitted Data, Pin 2 of 25 way D

This is the serial encoded data sent from a computer to a modem to be
transmitted over the telephone line.

RXD Received Data, Pin 3 of 25 way D

This is the serial encoded data received by a computer from a modem
which has in turn received it over the telephone line.

DSR Data Set Ready, Pin 6 of 25 way D

This should be set true by a modem whenever it is powered on. It can be
read by the computer to determine that the modem is on line.

DTR Data Terminal Ready, Pin 20 of 25 way D

This should be set true by a computer whenever it is powered on. It can be
read by the modem to determine that the computer is on line.

RTS Request to Send, Pin 4 of 25 way D

This is set true by a computer when it wishes to transmit data

The RS232 Standard

CTS Clear To Send, Pin 5 of 25 Way D
This is set true by a modem to allow the computer to transmit data.
The standard envisaged that when a computer wished to transmit
data it would set its RTS. The local modem would then arbitrate with
the distant modem for use of the telephone line. If it succeeded it
would set CTS and the computer would transmit data. The distant
modem would use its CTS to prevent any transmission by the
distant computer.
DCD Data Carrier Detect, Pin 8 of 25 Way D
This is set true by a modem when it detects the data carrier signal
on the telephone line..
PC Serial Ports
A nine pin D plug has become the standard fitting for the serial ports
of PCs, although it's nothing to do with the RS232 standard. The pin
connections used are

How Fast Can Instruments send data over RS232?

The speed of RS232 communications is expressed in Baud.

The unit is named after Jean Maurice-Emile Baudot (18451903), a French telegraph engineer and the inventor of the first
teleprinter. It was proposed at the International Telegraph
Conference of 1927
The maximum speed, according to the standard, is 20,000
Baud. However, modern equipment can operate much faster
than this.
No matter how fast (or slow) your connection - the maximum
number of readings per second you can take from your
instrument depends on the software. For example, with
Windmill software, speeds of up to 35 readings per second are
achievable whilst with Streamer software this rises to 700
readings per second.

How Fast Can Instruments send data over RS232?

The length of the cable also plays a part in maximum
The longer the cable, the greater the cable's capacitance
and the slower the speed at which you can obtain
accurate results.
A large capacitance means voltage changes on one
signal wire may be transmitted to an adjacent signal
Fifty feet is commonly quoted as the maximum distance,
but this is not specified in the standard.
We generally recommend a maximum distance of 50
metres, but this depends on the type of hardware you
are connecting and characteristics of the cable

RS-232 interfaces
before ethernet etc, we talked to timeshared
mainframes on RS-232
many instruments (oscilloscopes, lock-in amplifiers,
etc) are still sold with RS-232 set-up, control, and
data download interfaces
many devices (e.g., older PDAs) and peripherals
(e.g., mouse, smart-card reader, X-10 controller, etc)
still use it
bytewise asynchronous: a start bit announces each
incoming byte
family of standards for single/dual
symmetric/assymetric levels
single device design; daisy chain with device
identifier allows a loop of transducer interfaces
serial nature makes interface to/from fiber optics easy

USB for Data Acquisition?

The USB is extremely convenient for data acquisition for several reasons.
The equipment can obtain power from the USB; it doesn't need to be
battery powered or plugged into the wall. This makes USB ideal for
portable data acquisition with a laptop.
Using a USB hub you can connect many devices to one socket - letting
you easily expand your system requirements grow.
USB ports are provided on most new PCs - no need to open the computer
and install adaptor cards.
You can plug in and unplug your equipment without switching off your
computer or even restarting Windows.
The USB cable can be up to 5 m long. However, using USB hubs between
cables you can reach 30m. Faster speeds than those allowed by RS232
connections are achievable
You can use USB devices alongside existing data acquisition equipment
(such as instruments that plug directly into the RS232 port).

IEEE 488 (GPIB, HPIB) interfaces

THE MAIN control and communication channel for
research-grade instruments in physical/chemical/etc
16 bit parallel bus: 8 data or command lines, 8 control
control lines (8) = data valid, not ready for data, etc.

a device may be a talker and/or listener and/or

devices are uniquely addressed (0 ... 30 5 bits); 31
addresses all
data sent one byte at a time, managed by the control
high level generic instrument (voltmeter, oscilloscope,
etc) control languages (e.g., SCPI = skippy) come
and go; problem is that generic language cannot
exploit unique features of any instrument

GPIB Hardware Specifications



12 24


Max cable length

between devices =
4 m (2 m average)
Max number of
devices = 15

Emerging DAC communications

Enhanced Parallel Port (EPP): bidirectionally, as
needed for DAC
Universal Serial Bus 2.0 (USB): hot insertion of up to
127 devices attractive for research environment; can
power net devices; in practice, relatively slow (100
FireWire (IEEE 1394): fast enough for live video, can
support 100s of devices
1451.2-1997 PDF Standard for a Smart Transducer
Interface for Sensors and Actuators - Transducer to
Microprocessor Communication Protocols and
Transducer Electronic Data Sheet (TEDS) Formats
1998 ($101)

Industrial DAC
4-20 mA Current loop: a medium rather than a
protocol, but you should know about it ... robust in
noisy industrial environment
MAP = Manufacturing Automation Protocol, driven by
automobile manufacturers in 1980s; is it alive?
DeviceNet: 125/250/500 Kbit/s, 8-bit data packet,
suitable for high speed monitoring of simple process
parameters, e.g., in discrete manufacturing of food
containers, etc
FieldBus: 1-2.5 Mbits/s, variable packet size to 1000bytes, suitable for lower packet count of more detailed
packets, e.g., in continuous process control of fast
moving complex but relatively slowly changing data,
e.g., as in oil refining











J-1850, J 1939 (CAN),J2058,


SAE, Chrysler,

Smart House LP




Building and Office Automation



University of Michigan


Delf University of Technology

Time-Triggered Protocol

University of Wien


Home automation
Smart House

MPS (Michigan Parallel Std., MSS



Intelligent Building Institute


Merlin Gerin







SP50 Fieldbus

Fieldbus Foundation


Echeleon Corp

Profibus DP/PA





InterBus-S club, Phoenix









Computer Hardware
Central Processing Unit - also called The
Chip, a CPU, a processor, or a microprocessor
Memory (RAM)
Storage Devices
Input Devices
Output Devices

Computer Hardware
Central Processing Unit - also called The
Chip, a CPU, a processor or a
Memory (RAM)
Storage Devices
Input Devices
Output Devices

Computer Hardware
Central Processing Unit - also called The Chip, a CPU,
a processor or a microprocessor
Memory (RAM)
Storage Devices
Input Devices
Output Devices

Computer Hardware
Central Processing Unit - also called The
Chip, a CPU, a processor or a
Memory (RAM)
Storage Devices
Input Devices
Output Devices

CPU Types
CPU or microprocessor is often
described as the brain of a computer.
CPU is an integrated circuit or chip which
processes instructions and data.
CPU types.
Intel Pentium II, III, IV
Intel Celeron
AMD Athlon

CPU types
CPU speed is measured by the number
of completed instruction cycles per
Currently, CPU speeds range from 600
megahertz (MHz or million cycles per second)
to 4 gigahertz (GHz or billion cycles per

Always check new softwares

requirements for CPU type and speed
before purchasing

Microcomputer Platforms
All microcomputers are based on a small
number of designs (interior architecture)
or computer platforms.
PC architecture is based on the first IBM
microcomputers. Generally, PCs use
Microsoft Windows as their operating
Apple computers or Macs are based on
proprietary architecture manufactured
exclusively by Apple Computer, Inc.

Microcomputer Platforms
Compatibility refers to computers that
operate in essentially the same way.
Compatibility across platforms is limited!
You must know which platform your
computer runs on before purchasing
All software is designed for a specific
Windows, Mac or Unix versions

Memory (RAM)
RAM or Random Access Memory
Waiting room for computers CPU.
Holds instructions for processing data,
processed data, and raw data.
Ram is measured by:
Capacity (in Megabytes or Gigabytes)
Speed (in Nanoseconds)

Memory (RAM)
Amount of RAM installed will determine.
Which software applications will run
How many software applications can be open
simultaneously (multitasking ability)?

RAM upgrades are cost-effective and

easy to install.
Check your computer manual for RAM type
(DIMM, SDRAM) and speed (100, 90ns).

Memory (RAM)
All software applications will have RAM
specifications listed on their packaging.
Many applications list both a minimum
and a recommended amount of RAM
necessary to run the software.
Be cautious about buying software for a
system based on minimum requirement.
Visit the
Memory Technology Exhibit

Storage Technology
Electronic devices that store, retrieve, and
save instructions and data.
Todays microcomputers or PCs include
several types of storage devices.
Capacity and speed are important
considerations when selecting a new
storage device for a PC.

Storage Technology
Magnetic storage devices
store data by magnetizing
particles on a disk or tape.
They have a limited life-span
of 1 to 5 years, depending
on the device.
Optical storage devices
store data as light and dark
spots on the disk surface.
They have an unlimited lifespan.

Storage Devices
Hard Disk Drives
Capacity is measured in gigabytes (GB or
billions of bytes).
Typically permanently installed.
Used to store operating system,
application software, utilities and data.
Magnetic storage device.
Learn more about how a hard disk drive
works from How Stuff Works

Storage Devices
Floppy Disk Drives
Capacity is 1.44 to 2.0
megabytes (MB or millions
of bytes).
Storage device with
the smallest capacity
Most portable storage media

Magnetic storage device.

Storage Devices
CD-ROM Drives
Typically installed on all new computer
systems. (Were add-on device until the
mid 1990s).
Capacity is 600 to 750 megabytes
(MB or millions of bytes).
Most mass-produced commercial software
is packaged on a CD.

Storage Devices
CD-ROM Drives
Used more often now for backup storage
as CD-RW (read/write) technology has
become less expensive.
Data is read from CD by a laser.
Optical storage device.

Learn how to write data, images, and

audio to a CD from

Storage Devices
Other Types of Drives
Zip Drives Several different capacities are
Tape Drives Generally used for system
backups, becoming less common.
DVD drives Can also read CDs, now more
common as a standard device on new computer
Learn more about specific hardware
and their functions from

Input Devices
Input is all information put into a
computer. Input can be supplied from a
variety of sources:
A person
A storage device on computer
Another computer
A peripheral device
Another piece of equipment, such as a
musical instrument or thermometer

Input Devices
Input devices gather and translate data
into a form the computer understands.
Primary input device:
Keyboard - Most common input device; used
to type in commands and data.
Mouse or trackball enhances users ability to
input commands, manipulate text, images.
Joystick useful in education as an adaptive
or assistive input device.

Input Devices
Scanners are peripheral input devices
which allow users to import:

Specialized software aids in translating

information into a format the computer can
understand and manipulate.

Input Devices
Digital Cameras are peripheral
input devices that allow users to
create pictures and/or movies in
a digital format.
Some require specialized
software to import images
into the computer.
Some record digital images
directly to a disk that can be read
by the computer.

Output Devices
Monitors are the most commonly used
output device.
Most monitors use a bitmap display.
Allows user to resize the display.
Divides the screen into a matrix of tiny square
dots called pixels.
The more dots a screen can display, the
higher the resolution of the monitor.

Output Devices
Monitors are connected to a computer
system via a port integrated on the video
adapter or graphics card.
Graphics cards convert digital data output
from software to analog data for display on
Typically have additional memory chips on
card, 4MB to 64MB.

Output Devices
Dot matrix
Seldom used in a classroom.
Still frequently used in business.

Bubble or ink jet


Output Devices
Projection systems or classroom TVs can
display information from a computer system
on a larger screen for whole-class

View and excellent tutorial on hardware

basics at Macromedias site.
Requires log-in and browser plug-in download.

Wired Connectivity

Ethernet, Fibre, etc.

Serial & Parallel

Wireless Connectivity


Wired Connectivity
Ethernet already covered
Fibre connections offer higher capacity over
longer runs, e.g. 100Mbps over runs of 2000m,
1Gbps for FTTC or FTTH systems
FDDI (Fiber Distributed Data Interface) is a high
performance token ring LAN, but as it is more
expensive and complex than fast Ethernet takeup is limited
Fiber is more widely supported in cable TV,
which also offers internet and telephony support

Serial & Parallel

Traditional serial connection is through RS-232
and its successors
Developed by Electronic Industries Association,
so properly EIA-RS-232, subsumed by CCITT
Defines a physical layer protocol, incorporating
mechanical, electrical, etc. interfaces
Limited to 20kbps and 15m cable length (25 pin)
Newer standard is RS-422, up to 2Mbps over
60m, but requires 37 pin + 9 pin connectors

Serial & Parallel

Predominantly used for printer connection,
though some peripherals offer parallel port
connectivity (e.g. ZIP drives, Backup tape,
Based on the principle of sending a byte of
information at a time, by sending each of the
8 bits in parallel rather than the bit-stream
model of the serial port.
Offers a data rate of 0.8Mbps over 15m

Universal Serial Bus
Now released in version 2.0
Developed by a consortium including Microsoft
and Intel and offering, in version 1.0, transfer
rates of around 12 Mbits/s
Version 2.0 offers 360 - 480 Mbits/s
Uses a flat-head, 4 strip connector
Up to 127 peripherals can be daisy-chained
Supported by Intel, but not by NT

Designed November 2008 Manufacturer USB
3.0 Promoter Group (Hewlett-Packard, Intel,
Microsoft, NEC, ST-Ericsson, and
Texas Instruments)Superseded by USB 3.1 (July
General specifications: Width: 12 mm (A plug),
8 mm (B plug), 12.2 mm (Micro-A & Micro-B
plugs) Height 4.5 mm (A plug), 10.44 mm (B
plug), 1.8 mm (Micro-A & Micro-B plugs),
Pins: 9
Electrical Max. current :900 mA
Bitrate :5 Gbit/s (625 MB/s)

High-speed serial bus, originally called Firewire,
developed by Apple
Offers data rates of 100 - 400 Mbps
Now predominantly supported by Texas
Instruments and other third party developers,
being overtaken by USB.
Widely used for digital video
Offers limited daisy-chaining

IEEE 1394(S1600 and S3200 )

FireWire S1600 and S3200 using the modes
that, for the most part, had already been defined
in 1394b and were further clarified in IEEE Std.
1394-2008. The 1.572864 Gbit/s and
3.145728 Gbit/s devices use the same 9conductor beta connectors as the existing
FireWire 800 and are fully compatible with
existing S400 and S800 devices. It competes
with USB 3.0.
Steve Jobs declared FireWire dead in 2008.As
of 2012, there were few S1600 devices
released, with a Sony camera being the only
notable use

Small Computer Systems Interface
Developed in the late 70s by Shugat
Associates as Sasi
Daisy-chained peripheral connection
Offered in a variety of flavours, SCSI-1, SCSI2, Fast-Wide SCSI, Ultra SCSI, Wide Ultra
SCSI, Ultra 2 SCSI, Wide Ultra 2 SCSI, Ultra
3 SCSI & Wide Ultra 3 SCSI
Offers data rates from 40 - 1280 Mbps

Wireless Connectivity
The Infra-Red Data Association was set up to
establish an open standard for short-range
digital data communication between
computers and peripherals
Provides a wireless link capable of highspeed data transmission
Needs clear line-of-sight and has limited
Uses the PCs Uart chip to provide a data rate
of 112Kbps over a range of 1m

Global System for Mobile
Based on microwave technology, basic GSM
chips offer a transfer rate of 9.6 Kbps - 14.4
Kbps over a significant range
GSM receiver/transmitter networks enable
world-wide communications capability
Take-up to date has predominantly been for
voice telephony, though email links to SMS
are beginning to prove popular

GSM (cont.)
Phase II GSM has introduced the high-speed,
circuit-switched data device (HSCSD) which is
offering 28.8Kbps in devices such as Nokias
Communicator and now in a large number of
mobile phones
The goal of megabit and, potentially, gigabit
communication rates are being addressed in
Phase III GSM, which well discuss as
breaking technology.

Bluetooth is an industry consortium
developing a RF based local push protocol
and technology, offering high data rates over
short distances, permitting equipment based
offers transfer rates of up to 1 Mbps over
about 10 metres
uses 2.4GHz bandwidth with spectrum
frequency hopping

IEEE 802.11b
basis of Wi-Fi standard
uses same 2.4 GHz band as Bluetooth, but offers
11Mbps over 100 metres

IEEE 802.11a
Offers transfer rates up to 54Mbps in the 5GHz band,
but range is more limited, around 30 metres.

IEEE 802.11g
Now shipping, offering up to 54 Mbps in the 2.4GHz
band, also with a range of around 100 metres.
Uses an enhanced spectrum frequency-hopping
approach to reduce interference.
Several of the major vendors are already offering
enhanced variants running at 100Mbps

A protocol defines the following:

Network topology: star, ring, or bus (tree), etc.
ISO reference model layers: physical, datalink, network, transport,
session, presentation and application.
Data communication modes: simplex, half-duplex, or duplex.
Signal types: digital or analogue.
Data transmission modes: synchronous or asynchronous, etc.
Data rate supported: several bps (bits per second) to several Gbps.
Transmission medium supported: twisted, coaxial, optical or microwave.
Medium access control methods: CSMA/CD, or control token, etc.
Data format: transmission modes and individual protocol specifications.
Type, order of messages that are to be exchanged.
Error detection methods: parity, block sum check, or CRC.
Error control methods: echo checking, ARQ (Automatic repeat request)
Flow control methods: X-ON/X-OFF, window mechanisms, or sequence

Analogue-to-Digital Converters

When data acquisition hardware receives

an analogue signal it converts it to a
voltage. It then digitises it with an
analogue-to-digital converter, ready for
transfer to a computer. This page
discusses different
types of A-D converters and explains the
meaning of A-D hardware specification te

Types of Analogue-to-Digital Converters

Generally 5 types of A-D converter are

used: successive approximation,
dual slope integrating, charge balancing,
flash and sigma-delta converter

Analog-to-digital conversion (ADC)

counter or tracking ADC
count number of steps needed to charge capacitor to same
voltage as signal (only need comparitor, not measurer)
simple, inexpensive, conversion time depends on signal

successive-approximation ADC
controller (maybe computer) applies successive
approximations to a DAC and compares its output to the
output naturally serialized

dual-slope integrating ADC

integrator charged by signal for fixed time, discharged by
fixed current for measure time
usually charge for fixed number of powerline cycles (reject
60 Hz)
slow but good noise immunity

voltage-to-frequency ADC
count output of VFC for measured time
slow but good noise immunity

flash ADC (common in frame grabbers)

resistor ladder divides reference voltage
into 2n steps
2n-1 comparitors are on below the signal
voltage, off above it
one step to resolve, one step 2n n
conversion: FAST!
but cost ~2n vs. something like n for other

Analog to digital converter (ADC) Example

Successive Approximation Converter

A successive approximation converter provides a fast conversion of a

momentary value of the input signal.
It works by first comparing the input with a voltage which is half the
input range.
If the input is over this level it compares it with three-quarters of the range,
and so on.
Twelve such steps gives 12-bit resolution. While these comparisons are
taking place the signal is frozen in a sample and hold circuit.
After A-D conversion the resulting bytes are placed into either a pipeline or
buffer store. A pipeline store enables the A-D converter to do another
conversion while the previous data is transferred to the computer.
Buffered A-D converters place the data into a queue held in buffer memory.
The computer can read the converted value immediately, or can allow
values to accumulate in the buffer and read them when it is convenient.
This frees the computer from having to deal with the samples in real time,
allowing them to be processed in convenient batches without losing any

Analog to digital converter (ADC)

Successive approximation ADC

Analog to digital converter (ADC) Example

Analog to digital converter (ADC) Example

For a 4-bit ADC converter as shown below, go through the
conversion process when a voltage of 10.1 V is being
converted to digital representation with the full scale analog
voltage of 15 V.
The step size of this 4-bit converter is

Q 15 2 4 0.9375

The quantization error is

1 4
Eq 15 2 0.46875

Analog to Digital Conversion:

Successive Approximation

Most common form of ADC

Bits are calculated one at a
time and operation can be
stopped at any point
Each bit is found by
comparing the input value to
the value represented by all
the bits calculated so far
Requires a DAC

Analog to digital converter (ADC) Example

MSB: Most Significant Bit

LSB: Least Significant Bit

For 1011, the error is:

error 10.3125 10.1 0.2125

For 1010, the error is:

error 9.375 10.1 0.725

Analog to Digital Conversion:

Simplest, fastest form of
Sometimes known as a
parallel converter

Voltage ladder divides

reference voltage into 2N
steps, which are compared
to the input voltage
Requires 2N resistors and
Limited by resistor accuracy

Flash Converter
A flash converter is the fastest type of converter
we use.
Like the successive approximation converter it
works by comparing the input signal to a
reference voltage, but a flash converter has as
many comparators as there are steps in the
An 8-bit converter, therefore, has 2 to the power
8, or 256, comparators

Dual Slope Integrating Converter

This converter reduces noise but is slower
than the successive approximation type.
It lets the input signal charge a capacitor for
a fixed period and then measures the time
for the capacitor to fully discharge at a
fixed rate.
This time is a measure of the integrated
input voltage, which reduces the effects of

Specifications of Analogue-to-Digital Converters

Many types of specifications for A-D

converters are quoted by hardware
manufacturers. Here we try to explain
what some of them mean in practice,
namely resolution, linearity, offset errors,
sample and hold acquisition time,
throughput, integration time and

The resolution of the A-D converter is the number of
steps the input range is divided into.
The resolution is usually expressed as bits (n) and the
number of steps is 2 to the power n.
A converter with 12-bit resolution, for instance, divides
the range into 212, or 4096, steps. In this case a 0-10 V
range will be resolved to 0.25 mV, and a 0-100 mV range
will be resolved to 0.0025 mV.
Although the resolution will be increased when the input
range is narrowed, there is no point in trying to resolve
signals below the noise level of the system: all you will
get is unstable readings.

Ideally an A-D converter with n-bit
resolution will convert the input range into
(2 to the power n)-1 equal steps (4095
steps in the case of a 12-bit converter).
In practice the steps are not exactly
equal, which leads to non-linearity in a plot
of A-D output against input voltage.

Sample and Hold Acquisition Time

A sample and hold circuit freezes the analogue
input voltage at the moment the sample is
required. This voltage is held constant whilst the
A-D converter digitizes it.
The acquisition time is the time between
releasing the hold state and the output of the
sample circuit settling to the new input voltage
value. Sample and hold circuits are not used
with integrating converters.

The throughput is the maximum rate at which the A-D
converter can output data values. In general it will be the
inverse of the (conversion time + the acquisition time) of
the A-D converter.
Thus a converter that takes 10 microseconds to acquire
and convert will be able to generate about 100 000
samples per second.
Throughput can be increased by using a pipelined A-D
converter, so a second conversion can start while the
first is still in progress. Throughput may be slowed down,
however, by other factors which prevent data transfer at
the full rate.

Integration Time
An integrating A-D converter measures the input
voltage by allowing it to charge a capacitor for a
defined period.
The integration averages the input signal over
the integration time, which if chosen
appropriately will average over a complete
mains cycle thereby helping to reduce mains
frequency interference.
The throughput of an integrating converter is not
the inverse of the integration time, as throughput
also depends on the maximum discharge time

Some A-D converters are able to re-calibrate themselves
periodically by measuring a reference voltage, and compensating
for offset and gain drifts. This is useful for long term monitoring since
drifts do not accumulate.
If the re-calibrations are set too far apart there may appear to be
small discontinuities in the recorded data as the re-calibrations
occur. (If you have a reading other than zero for a zero condition,
then you have an offset error: every reading will be inaccurate by
this amount.
When the A-D converter is preceded by signal conditioning circuits
offset errors need not normally be considered. Drift occurs because
components in the amplifier change over time and with temperature.
Drift is usually only significant for people trying to measure low-level
signals - a few millivolts - over long periods of time or in difficult
environmental conditions.)

Digital to analog converter (DAC)

DAC is a device which converts a digital value to analog
one. The general circuit is shown below

Digital to analog converter (DAC)

Suppose a n-bit digital value is represented as

[ a1 a 2



... a n ]

can be either 1 or 0.

Its corresponding analog value can be calculated as

Vo V R ( a1 2 1 a 2 2 2 a 3 2 3 ..... a n 2 n )

Microcontrollers: Overview
A microcontroller (uC) is a small,
lightweight CPU which is usually
combined with on-board memory and
Compact and low power (relatively)

They are often used as a simple hardware

to software interface as well as for in-situ
Often used as an analog to digital gateway
Allows for real-time feedback based on data

Microcontrollers: Features (1)

Processor speed: Fundamental measure

of processing rate of device
Value of interest is in MIPS, not MHz

Supply voltage/current: Measure of the

amount of power required to run the
Multiple modes (sleep, idle, etc)

It is possible to adjust the voltage and

frequency of some devices in real time,
thereby trading off speed and power

Microcontrollers:Features (2)
Internal memory: Sometimes divided
between program and data memory, the
amount of information that can be stored on
Can sometimes be supplemented by external

I/O Pins: Individual points for communication

between the uC and the rest of the world
Can be digital or analog, general or special

Interrupts: Non-linear program flow based on

Microcontrollers: Peripherals (1)

Timers: Internal registers (any size) in the
uC that increment at the clock rate
May have prescaler
May be combined with range testing for
Watchdog timers reset processor if it hangs.

Comparators: Input that effectively

functions as a 1-bit ADC with a variable
threshold set by an internal register
Often used for real-time data monitoring

Microcontrollers: Peripherals (2)

ADC: Most ADCs used in sensor data
collection are integrated with uC and are
controlled via special registers
Watch for number of channels vs number of
Sampling speed will not take input switch into
Clock internally via timers (benefits?)
Very fast ADCs often combined with DMA

DAC: Digital to analog converters are also

include in some data collection driven uC

Microcontrollers:Communication (1)
UART: Basic hardware module which mediates serial
communication (RS232)
Simplest form of communication between uC and computer, but
limited by speed
Most modules are full duplex, but need to watch out for data
registers and flags

USB: High Bandwidth Serial Communication between uC

and a computer or an embedded host
Usually requires chips with specialized hardware and firmware
Requires custom driver on the host side or conforming to a
standard device class

SPI: Full duplex master-slave 4-wire protocol for data

transfer between uCs
Mbit transfer rates
Somewhat quirky protocol
Unlimted (almost) nodes, can change master

Microcontrollers:Communication (2)
I2C: Half duplex master-slave 2-wire
protocol for data transfer between uCs
kbit transfer rates
Tx/Rx based on slave addressing
Can invert protocol with sensors as masters

RF: Radio frequency (>100 MHz) EM

transmission of data
Built in to some newer special-purpose uC
Wireless spherical transmission
Much (much) more later

Microcontrollers:Silicon Labs

8051 derivate uC with high reconfigurability

Many programming environments available
Vary from 3mm2 to 100 pin packages

General specs
Medium power
Max 100 MHz / 100 MIPS
Max 128K program space / 8K RAM
Max 16 bit ADC

Microcontrollers: TI MSP430
Proprietary TI low-power low-cost RISC
Highly supported by TI with great program
Designed for intermittent sampling and fast

General specs
Very low power (flexible)
Max 32KHz / 8 MIPS
Max 50K program space / 10K RAM
Max 16 bit ADC

Microcontrollers:Atmel AVR
8-bit RISC series of microcontroller chips
Large range of available devices covering many
interfaces, speeds, memory sizes, and package sizes
Large hobbyist development community with many
available toolchains and sample applications

General specs

One MIPS per MHz

Models available up to 20MHz
Max 128K program space / 8K RAM
ADC/LCD Driver/Motor Control

Atmel ARM7 (AT91SAM7S series)

32-bit ARM microcontroller

Low power (for 32-bit machines)
Can run in 16-bit mode if needed

General specs
Lots of memory (8-64KB RAM, 32-256KB
Variable speed up to 55MHz
Packed with peripherals (USB, ADC, SPI,
Comes in LQFP 48 and 64 packages
Not suitable for beginners

Classic Control Theory

(Unknown and Known) Disturbances
System Changes, sc

Desired Value, vd

Value, vo

Temperature Control




The Control System sets the current supplied to

the heating elements in the furnace to keep the
material temperature at the desired value.

P,I,D Control Law

The control signal has 3 components:
Proportional Mode
c(t) = KC e(t) + cb

Integral Mode Compensates error

buildup over time
c(t) = (KC/I) e(t) dt + cb

Derivative Mode Attempts to match rate

c(t) = KC D d/dt ( e(t) ) + cb

Display Technologies
The Technologies
Dual Scan
Active Matrix







CRT (Cathode Ray Tube)

100 year old technology
A glass bell envelope contains a vacuum and
an electron gun. By the application of a
current, and electron stream is created, which
is fired through the vacuum towards the inside
face of the glass envelope. Here it strikes a
phosphor layer, which converts the beam into
visible light, colour being achieved through
mixing varying levels of light intensity from
red, green and blue phosphors.

CRT (Cathode Ray Tube) [cont.]

As theres only one electron gun, and one
beam for each colour, the screen needs to be
refreshed constantly. This is achieved by
altering the angle of the beam with a magnetic
deflector coil, which deflects the beam across
each part of the screen from top left to bottom
right in a movement known as a raster. If
refresh rate is set at 75Hz and resolution is
1024x768 (XGA), this equates to painting
58,982,400 pixels per second.

CRT (Cathode Ray Tube) [cont.]

Advantages of CRT
robust, well-known technology
high-quality resolution and image control

Disadvantages of CRT
size (footprint) on monitors
short or mini-neck tubes possible, but exacerbates
distortion problems

analogue technology

LCD (Liquid Crystal Display)

Work by polarisation of light
Liquid crystals dont emit their own light, but
depend on a cold cathode backlight being
passed through a sandwich of glass, liquid
crystal and polarising filters, at right angles to
each other.
The liquid crystal molecules need to be aligned
to allow the light to refract along the chain and
out the other side. By anchoring the long crystal
molecules to each side of the screen by grooves
in the glass, their natural state creates the
necessary alignment.

LCD (Liquid Crystal Display) [cont.]

When a current is applied to any screen
element, the molecules lose the necessary
alignment, so any light is blocked by the
opposing polariser.
Colour is produced in similar way to CRTs,
with individual liquid crystal cells for red,
green and Blue. Unlike phosphors, which emit
light, the liquid crystals filter the light, allowing
only their corresponding colours through.



Earliest Flat technology

Low Cost
Good Luminance
Excellent Viewing Angle
Long Life
Matrix Addressing
Wire Emitters
Mechanical Complexity
Low Resolution
High Filament Power

The structure consists of two thin layers of dielectric with
phosphor sandwitched between them. A thin Al layer on the top
and thin ITO layer on the bottom completes EL.When voltage of
order of 200V is applied the resultant high electric field
(1MV/cm) tunnels electrons through dielectric on to phosphor.
The high energy of electrons impact the colour centres to emit
visible light.

High brightness, high resolution,

Blue phosphor improvement required
High voltage switching
High purity materials
Small sizes

Most mature flat panel
Major share of FPD market
Poor intrinsic viewing angle
Requires backlight
Effected by Temperature and



Large Displays >32

High Resolution
High Brightness
Good Contrast
Good Colour gamut
Large viewing angle
High Speed
Presently High Cost

PDP Working

Address electrode
causes gas to
change to plasma

The plasma emits UV

in discharge region
which impinges on
the phosphor

Reaction causes each

subpixel to produce red,
green, and blue light.

Most promising
Already in small sizes
No inherent size limit
Conformal displays
Large viewing angle
High resolution
High Speed
Good colour gamut
Lifetime issues to be
Great threat to LCD 2008?

OLED advantages
Colour Gamut comparable to CRT, with potential
to get better Striking visual appeal
Thinner No backlight
Less Expensive than LCD due to lesser
White + Color Filter route takes away some of
this advantage
Potential for printing in manufacturing.
Flexible and Conformal Displays

Digital Mirror Device

The DMD is an array of
several lakhs of
aluminium mirrors, each
of which acts as a light
It is a MEMS device.

Each mirror can rotate in

one of two directions:
+ 10 degrees or -10
+10 degrees is ON state.
-10 degrees is OFF state.


continued Construction of an electrostatic-deflection CRT: (a) cutaway view; (b) electron beam detail.

Dale R. Patrick
Electricity and Electronics: A Survey, 5e

Copyright 2002 by Pearson Education, Inc.

Upper Saddle River, New Jersey 07458
All rights reserved.


Block diagram of a general-purpose oscillo-scope.

Dale R. Patrick
Electricity and Electronics: A Survey, 5e

Copyright 2002 by Pearson Education, Inc.

Upper Saddle River, New Jersey 07458
All rights reserved.


Digital storage oscilloscope. (Courtesy of Leader Instrument Corp.)

Dale R. Patrick
Electricity and Electronics: A Survey, 5e

Copyright 2002 by Pearson Education, Inc.

Upper Saddle River, New Jersey 07458
All rights reserved.


Block diagram of a typical digital storage oscilloscope (DSO).

Dale R. Patrick
Electricity and Electronics: A Survey, 5e

Copyright 2002 by Pearson Education, Inc.

Upper Saddle River, New Jersey 07458
All rights reserved.

Basic Operating Principles

Analogue device displaying graphs of voltage against

Consists of: -cathode ray tube (CRT)
-conditioning circuits
General purpose scopes: 100Hz 500KHz
one signal
Sophisticated scopes: up to 100MHz
four different signals
The electrical signals are observed with means of a
cathode ray tube

Basic Operating Principles

To observe a time-varying signal, the electron beam is

deflected in x-direction with means of a time base
generator which provides an output voltage in the form
of a saw-tooth
To generate a stable image the triggering instant of
the saw-tooth has to be synchronized with the vertical
plate input
In general, the way electrical quantities change with
respect to time, curve shapes of these changes and
other dependencies can be shown by a scope
Oscilloscopes can be used for measuring electrical and
non-electrical variables
For measuring the last mentioned one need converters,
sensors and transducers

Storage Oscilloscope
Ambiguous meaning; even digital oscilloscopes can
storage data, they are not generally referred as those
The CRT scopes which are able to store data are
storage oscilloscopes
Used to examine non-repetitive transient signals
Used to examine low frequency signals with much less
than 10Hz
The highest frequency is about 0.1 MHz because of the
limited ability of screen to store information

Sampling Oscilloscope

Principle to reduce frequency limit of oscilloscopes

in case of repetitive waveforms
Using the principle of equivalent sampling

Sampling Oscilloscope

Displayed sequentially samples show the shape of

original signal
Frequency limit of sampling oscilloscopes is 10-50 GHz
Disadvantage of noise sensitivity since signal
consists of samples of different signal periods
Random sampling can also be used as principle for
sampling oscilloscopes, here samples of both, the
signal and the time base are taken randomly of

Lock-in Amplifier
A lock-in amplifier uses phase-sensitive detection to
improve the signal-to-noise ratio in cw experiments.
Using phase-sensitive detection requires that the
analytical signal be modulated at some reference
frequency. The lock-in-amplifier then amplifies only the
component of the input signal at the reference signal,
and filters out all other frequencies, i.e., noise. In the
fluorescence detection example illustrated below, the
analytical signal (the fluorescence) is modulated by
chopping the optical excitation source (the laser) at the
reference frequency.

Frequency measurements
Two approaches: using frequency counter to measure
frequency directly, and using probe to measure the
wavelength in a transmission line.
Frequency counter approach

(1) Basic principle: direct counting <500MHz

(2) Using frequency down-conversion techniques for
microwave signals
Pre-scaling: divider circuit <2GHz

Wavelength measurement approach

Microwave analyzers

Spectrum analyzer
Purpose: measure microwave signal spectrum, can also be used to measure
frequency, rms voltage, power, distortion, noise power, amplitude modulation,
frequency modulation, spectral purity,...
Operating principle

Audio Spectrum Analyzer

Specification definitions
Specifications and constrains
Operation principles
Project plan

Specifications Definitions:
Octave: two frequencies where one of the frequencies is two
times the frequency of the other.
Signal to noise ratio (S/N ): the ratio of power of a desired
signal at any point to the noise power at the same point.
Distortion: signal distortion < 1% in 2nd harmonic
Total harmonic distortion (THD): the ratio of the sum of the
powers of all overtones to the power of the fundamental
Dynamic range: the difference in decibels between the highest
(overload level) and lowest (minimum acceptable) level of the
input signal.

Frequency Spectrum or Overall Level

Acoustics & Vibration Research Group

Vrije Universiteit Brussel

Parallel Filter Spectrum Analyzer

Acoustics & Vibration Research Group

Vrije Universiteit Brussel

FFT Spectrum Analyzer

Acoustics & Vibration Research Group

Vrije Universiteit Brussel