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INSTRUMENTATION AND MEASUREMENT (EE-223) 1

Object:
To make a digital to analog converted using R-2-R ladder network.
Components:
Resistors:
o Five 2K.
o Four 1K.
Four 4-bit switches.

Theory:
Introduction: R-2-R ladder is just a cleverly arranged set of resistors that gives you the
unique action of turning binary signals into an analog output voltage. It works by the principle of
superposition where switching on binary inputs adds more voltage at the output.

Here is a diagram of one showing binary inputs and analogue output.

The above ladder is just 4 bits long but you can extend it to any length (the limiting factor is the
accuracy of the resistors).

Working: It uses Kirchhoffs current law which states that the sum of currents entering a
node must be equal to the sum of the currents leaving a node. In the ladder, at each node, the
current is split in half. By switching the currents into each node the total current flowing is
binary weighted.

Using the principle of superposition when you add more current into a resistance the total
voltage appearing is the sum of the voltages caused by all the individual currents i.e. as each bit
is activated so the voltage increases at the output.

EE-139, EE-147, EE-153, EE-158, EE-165, EE-216


INSTRUMENTATION AND MEASUREMENT (EE-223) 2

Another clever thing about the R-2R ladder, and the reason that it works is that if you look to the
left you always see the same impedance.

Thevenin equivalent circuit:


Using Thevenin's theorem you can work out the voltage contribution of each bit. A Thevenin
circuit is the equivalent of a network of resistances and voltage sources (and current
sources). You can replace the network with a Thevenin equivalent circuit and it will work in
exactly the same way as the original network.

To use the Thevenin theorem replace all voltage sources with open circuits and all current
sources with short circuits - calculate the resistance looking into the port for the Thevenin
resistance Rth. For the Thevenin voltage calculate the no load output voltage.

EE-139, EE-147, EE-153, EE-158, EE-165, EE-216


INSTRUMENTATION AND MEASUREMENT (EE-223) 3

Contribution if bit 3 is active (the MSB):

Contribution if bit 2 is active (the MSB):

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INSTRUMENTATION AND MEASUREMENT (EE-223) 4

Contribution if bit 1 is active (the MSB):

When each bit is active it contributes a binary weighted voltage to the output Vo.

Advantages:
Only 2 resistor values
Lower precision resistors acceptable

Disadvantages:
Slower conversion rate

EE-139, EE-147, EE-153, EE-158, EE-165, EE-216


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Simulation:

Graph:

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INSTRUMENTATION AND MEASUREMENT (EE-223) 6

Table of calculated voltages and measured voltages:


Digital Inputs Calculated Value Measured Value (Volts)
(Volts)
0000
0001
0010
0011
0100
0101
0110
0111
1000
1001
1010
1011
1100
1101
1110
1111

Application:
1. Motor speed controller 2. Sound Equipment (e.g. CD/MP3 Players, etc.)

3. Solenoid valves (pneumatics) 4. Electronic Cruise Control

5. Digital Motor Control 6. Computer Printers

7. Digital Thermostat

References:
http://www.technologystudent.com/elec1/opamp1.htm ,

http://hyperphysics.phy-astr.gsu.edu/hbase/electronic/dac.html

EE-139, EE-147, EE-153, EE-158, EE-165, EE-216