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Summary. The R-2R ladder DAC is another passive DAC. The R-2R ladder DAC makes use of only two resistor values—but it requires 2N resistors to implement an N -bit converter. Keywords. R-2R ladder, passive DAC, buﬀer, superposition.

12.1 Introduction

A three-bit example of an R-2R ladder DAC is given in Figure 12.1. As we will show, the output of the DAC is Vout = 4b2 + 2b1 + b0 . 8 (12.1)

One can extend the circuit to any number of bits by continuing the pattern of R and 2R ohm resistors.

**12.2 The Derivation
**

We consider the eﬀect of any one bit being high, or, in other words, of a given digital input being equal to Vref , while the rest are low—are held at 0 V. Then, we make use of the principle of superposition to arrive at (12.1). First consider the output value for the input word 1002 . In terms of voltages, we have b0 = b1 = 0 and b2 = Vref . Our circuit is then equivalent to the circuit of Figure 12.2. It is clear that the leftmost two resistors are equivalent to one R ohm resistor. This is in series with the next R ohm resistor. Combined, the leftmost three resistors are a 2R ohm resistor in parallel with the next 2R ohm resistor. Thus, one ﬁnds that the leftmost four resistors are equivalent to a single R ohm resistor. Combining this with the next R ohm resistor, we ﬁnd

86

12 The R-2R Ladder DAC

Fig. 12.1. A three-bit R-2R ladder DAC

Fig. 12.2. An equivalent circuit when b0 = b1 = 0 and b2 = Vref

that to the rest of the circuit the leftmost ﬁve resistors act as a single 2R ohm resistor. One ﬁnds that the circuit’s output, Vout , is b2 /2. What happens when b1 = Vref and b0 = b2 = 0? As we have seen, in this case the leftmost three resistors are equivalent to a single 2R ohm resistor. The equivalent circuit here is given by Figure 12.3. Considering the circuit in the dashed box as a two port and applying Th´venin’s theorem [18], we ﬁnd e that the circuit can be replaced by a b1 /2 volt voltage source and an R ohm resistor in series; the equivalent circuit is given in Figure 12.4. It is now clear that Vout = b1 /4. It is left as an exercise (see Exercise 1) to show that, when b0 = Vref and b1 = b2 = 0, Vout = b0 /8. The principle of superposition allows us to conclude that, in general,

12.3 Exercises

87

Fig. 12.3. An equivalent circuit when b0 = b2 = 0 and b1 = Vref

Fig. 12.4. The equivalent circuit after making use of Th´vinin’s theorem e

4b2 + 2b1 + b0 . 8 The output of the DAC is proportional to the value of the binary number b2 b1 b0 . Vout =

12.3 Exercises

1. Show that when b0 = Vref and b1 = b2 = 0, the output of the R-2R DAC is b0 /8. 2. Explain what should be added to the output of the circuit of Figure 12.1 in order to prevent the circuit’s output from being loaded by the next stage.

88

12 The R-2R Ladder DAC

3. Prove that the output of the circuit of Figure 12.5 is related to its inputs by the formula 2b1 + b0 . Vout = 4

Fig. 12.5. A two-bit DAC

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