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Sound Card DC Input Modification

Sound Card DC Input Modification

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Published by Dimitar Todorov

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Published by: Dimitar Todorov on Jul 17, 2012
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Sound Card DC Input ModificationScience with your PC Sound Cardhttp://www.daqarta.com/dw_ggnn.htm
If you need high frequency response as well as response down to DC, you can modify an existing soundcard by adding the DC Input Adapter circuit discussed here. This avoids the input AC-coupling discussedunder DC Measurements.The easiest way to do this is to buy an inexpensive USB card,which can be combined with the DC Input Adapter in an external enclosure, complete with the input connectors of your choice. Alternatively, youcan build a compact version of the DC Input Adapter circuit directly into the case of this USB device:This device is readily available on the Web, with prices typically in the US $20-30 range. Unfortunately, itdoesn't have a specific name or model number to search for. Try "USB 5.1 Sound" and look for a matching photo.The device uses the C-Media CM6206 USB Audio I/O Controller chip. It provides 5.1 channel outputsound, but here we are only dealing with the stereo Line inputs. (It also has a mono Mic input which won't be used here.)
Please note:
If you want to use a different USB sound card, you must make certain that it does indeedhave
circuitry... many inexpensive USB sound devices are output-only. Some have only a single-channel Mic input, and no Line inputs. This appears to be true of all the small rectangular devices builtonto a USB plug.The following circuit should be generally applicable to most USB sound chipsets. The schematic pluscomplete 600 DPI board and parts placement layouts suitable for printing are included in the
file that is installed with Daqarta in the
Documents - Daqarta - Circuits
folder. Youcan use the printed layouts directly to create your own circuit boards, with either the laser printer toner transfer method, or with the direct-draw method discussed under Printed Circuit Construction.Alternatively, you can edit the
file in the same folder to make custom modifications first.(
is a slightly larger version, if you are not trying to fit it into a tiny space.) See the
discussion inDaqarta Printed Circuitsfor the required software to use this file, and for informationon how to submit it to have boards made by a 3rd-party supplier.
Circuit Details
The basic problem that this circuit solves is that the input signal is bipolar, swinging above and belowground (0 V), while the internal chipset (CM6206 here) runs on a single 5 V supply and expects the signalto always be positive, swinging above and below a positive reference (typically about half the supplyvoltage) instead of about zero. It is thus necessary to add the reference voltage to the input signal, andconnect directly to the ADC chip instead of through the AC coupling capacitors.The DC Input Adapter uses three LF353 dual op-amps, although you can substitute other FET-input dualslike TL082. It uses a9 V "transistor radio" batteryas a negative supply, and the standard +5 V USBvoltage as a positive supply. A 2N3904 NPN transistor (or equivalent) acts as an automatic switch for the9 V supply, switching on when the USB device is plugged into a USB port.
The CM6206 uses a +2.25 V reference voltage (VREF) which is provided on pin 28. Unlike some other chips, it is not buffered, so U2A provides buffering. U2B inverts the reference to -2.25 V before feeding itto inverting summer U1B for the Left input, and also to U3B (not shown) for the Right.U1A buffers the Left input before feeding it to inverting summer U1B. The output of U1B is thus +2.25 V plus an inverted version of the input. (You will use Daqarta'sFull-Scale Rangecontrols to correct for thesignal inversion during calibration.) This composite signal is then supplied directly to the chip input(LINL, pin 25), omitting the input AC coupling capacitor.Ideally, all 100K resistors should be 1% tolerance for best results, but 5% parts should be fine for mostapplications. Any small gain or offset errors can be corrected in Daqarta via theExternal Gainand/or Zero  Manualcontrols. (See, however, the discussion of offset error versus input range in the
Calibration andPerformance
section below.)The diodes across the feedback resistors of U1B and U3B act as clamps to prevent large negative voltagesfrom reaching the CM6206 in case the signal input is more positive than +2.25 V. These diodes are probably not essential... the original USB device had no protection other than that built into the CM6206itself.
Construction Details:
Remove the two screws that hold the rear panel onto the USB device, and push gently on the big black SPDIF dummy plugs to slide the circuit board and connectors out the back of the case. The board has acutout that is just big enough to hold the internal version of the DC Input Adapter circuit board:

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