Bridging the Divide (Part 2): Designing with DACs

It is important to realize that a DAC is just one “link” among other links in a circuit design. Any circuit board’s “chain” is only as a strong as each link, so this article will focus on design practices to make your DAC circuit as strong as possible. Discussed first will be the system architecture and selection of a DAC, based on its key characteristics. Then, some design guidelines will be reviewed, including the use of references and output conditioning. The last section of the article will review techniques for preventing noise and best practices for PCB layout.

The first article in this series, which originally appeared at the EE Times Europe -Analog web site, covered basic DAC operation and key definitions, along with common DAC topologies. The second article will discuss the implementation of DACs, along with issues such as errors and noise. The final article will review two important DAC applications: calibration and motor control.

  • To read this Part 2 of this article, click here.
  • To read this Part 1 of this article, click here.

About the author
Bill McCulley is a Staff Applications Engineer for National Semiconductor and covers all broad market applications for the Americas region, based in National Semiconductor's Customer Support Center in Texas. He has been with National for nearly five years, and has held positions as an engineer for technical marketing and applications engineering. Bill holds a BSEE (Electrical Engineering) degree, and a minor in Spanish (Latin-American dialects) from the United States Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland.

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