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Glossary

ADC (analog-to-digital converter): A circuit that converts an analog value, usually


voltage, to a digital value.
CDS (correlated double sampling): A method of compensating for noise in a CCD
system by subtracting two samples. The first sample is taken immediately after
reset, when the CCD output voltage is at the reset level, and the second sample is
taken when the CCD charge output is present.
Closed-loop gain: The gain of a circuit with feedback components added. For an
opamp circuit, this means that the feedback loop to one of the inputs is closed with
resistors or other components. Closed-loop gain may be an integer number, or it
may be an equation that is dependent on frequency, time, or other factors. Closedloop gain can apply to a simple one-IC opamp circuit or to a complex system that
includes a microprocessor in the feedback loop. Closed-loop gain in any real system
has limitations such as supply voltage or the capability of the output driving
components.
Codec: Depending on usage, codec is short for compressor/decompressor and refers
to a device, system, or software that compresses or decompresses data. An example
would be an IC that converts to and from the JPEG image-compression format. In
the telecom industry, codec is short for coder/decoder and is a device that converts
from digital to analog and back.
Cross Conduction (see Shoot-through): A condition that occurs when an incorrect
pair of transistors turns on in an H-bridge. This condition usually results in low
impedance between the two supply voltages.
DAC (digital-to-analog converter): A circuit that converts a digital value to an analog
value.
Dynamic range: The range of values that a system must measure or control. Conceptually, the maximum value divided by the smallest increment.
EMC (electromagnetic compatibility): Generally refers to compatibility with the
various electromagnetic interference standards, such as those issued by the FCC
(Federal Communications Commission) in the United States or by the IEC in the
European community.
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EMI (electromagnetic interference): A general term for any kind of interference in an


electronic circuit that is caused by any electromagnetic effect. EMI includes RF,
ESD, and magnetic interference effects.
Encoder: On a motor, an encoder attaches to the motor shaft and produces output
signals that indicate motor position. The encoder may produce a series of pulses
indicating a certain degree of rotation or an absolute indication of shaft position.
ESD (electrostatic discharge): An arc that is created when electricity flows between
two charged objects. The spark you get when you walk across a carpet on a dry day
and touch a doorknob.
Hall effect: Discovered by Dr. Edwin Hall in 1879. It refers to the voltage that appears
across a conductor if it is placed in a magnetic field while a current is passed through it.
Hall effect sensor: A semiconductor sensor that measures magnetic fields using the
Hall effect.
Index: In a shaft-position encoder, an output that indicates when the shaft has
reached a predetermined position, usually occurring once per revolution.
Integration time (CCD): The amount of time that light is allowed to fall (charge is
allowed to accumulate) on a CCD array before readout.
LVDT (linear variable differential transformer): A linear position sensor that uses a
movable core and balanced coils.
Open-loop gain: The gain of a circuit (typically an opamp) with no feedback components added. The open-loop gain of an opamp is high, usually in the tens or
hundreds of thousands.
Peltier cooler: A solid-state cooler using the Peltier effect.
PID (Proportional/Integral/Derivative) control: A control method that determines
the new output of a system by using the difference between the desired value and
the actual value (proportional term), the rate of change (derivative term), and the
accumulation of the error over time (integral term).
PWM (pulse-width modulation): A means of controlling the current through a device
by applying an on-off waveform with a current that is higher than the desired
current. The device responds to the time average of the current through it, so the
ratio of on to off time in the waveform determines the effective current value.
Reference voltage: In an ADC or DAC circuit, the voltage that establishes the conversion range. In a comparator circuit, the voltage at one input that is compared to the
other input to determine if the output is high or low.
RTD (resistance temperature detector): A conductor that is used to measure temperature by measuring resistance change.
Sample and hold (S/H): A circuit that stores a voltage value so it can be measured.
Typically used with an ADC to stabilize the input value during measurement.
Shoot-through (see Cross conduction): A condition that occurs when an incorrect
pair of transistors turns on in an H-bridge. This condition usually results in low
impedance between the two supply voltages.

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Glossary

Strain gauge: A sensor that measures mechanical strain, such as weight, by measuring
the resistance change in a conductor due to the change in cross-sectional area.
Thermistor: A resistive component that changes resistance with temperature.
Thermocouple: A temperature sensor that measures the voltage generated at the
junction of two dissimilar metals.
Torque: The amount of force a motor can apply to its shaft. The formula for torque is:
Force  Moment Arm Torque
Torque is measured in foot-pounds; inch-pounds; ounce-inches; or
Newton-meters metric:
8:85 inch-pounds 1 Newton-meter
1 foot-pound 12 inch-pounds
16 ounce-inches 1 inch-pound
1 Newton 1 kilogram-meter per second squared
VRS (variable reluctance sensor): A sensor that uses a magnet and a coil to sense
rotation of a toothed wheel. The teeth on the wheel produce changes in the
magnetic field from the magnet, inducing an AC voltage on the coil.
V-F (voltage-to-frequency) converter: A circuit that generates an output frequency
that varies with an input voltage.

Glossary

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