BUS PIRATE: three inexpensive SPI Digital to Analog Converters

Source: Microchip MCP4902 datasheet

As much as possible, we’d like to move control of all the Bus Pirate peripheral hardware to the FPGA. Then everything can be controlled through the state machine command pipeline. In Ultra v1c we moved analog voltage measurement to the FPGA by adding an SPI ADC. In a future revision it would make sense to move a few other things to the FPGA:

  • Pull-up resistor control
  • Programmable output power supply enable
  • Programmable output power supply margining (using a DAC)
  • v1d stuff not yet announced

For debugging and self-testing we need to keep some redundant connections to the MCU as well, but primary control should be through the FPGA.

We had a look at a few chips that could replace the Digital to Analog Converter in the MCU, here’s a few inexpensive options we considered:

MCP4902 8bit dual DAC TSSOP14

Source: Microchip MCP4902 datasheet

MCP4902 seems to be a classic Microchip part, available at Mouser for $0.99 in 100s. However, the smallest package size is TSSOP14 and a quick check of SZLCSC shows they only have the SOIC version with 17 pieces in stock. That’s not a great sign.

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Source: Microchip MCP4902 datasheet

Each update of a DAC channel uses a 16bit command, maximum speed is 20MHz.

MCP48FVB02 8bit dual DAC MSOP10

Source: Microchip MCP48FVB02 datasheet

MCP48FVB02 appears to be a part Microchip acquired when they bought Micrel. It comes in an MSOP10 package which is an improvement over the MCP4902. It’s a bit cheaper at $0.90 for 100pcs at Mouser. It’s not stocked at SZLCSZ, which is a huge warning sign. Microchip Direct is really good about delivering parts in China if need be, but they can only deliver 1200 today and new stock won’t be available until February (three and a half months away).

Source: Microchip MCP48FVB02 datasheet

MCP48FVB02 uses a 24bit command to update each DAC, which is a full byte longer than the MCP4092. Both the MCP4092 and MCP48FVB02 operate at maximum write speeds of 20MHz, so the MCP48FVB02 will have a significantly slower maximum update rate.

DAC082S085CIMM/DAC084S085CIMM 8bit dual/quad DAC MSOP10

Source: DAC082S085 datasheet

Here’s where it gets a bit interesting. DAC082S085CIMM is a dual 8 bit DAC from Texas Instruments, available for $1.24 in 100s at Mouser. SZLCSC only has 8 in stock for around $2 in 100s (13.20RMB). Low stock is bad news, and a higher RMB price than USD price that points to a limited stock or specialty chip to avoid (i.e. not something with high demand in China).

However, the DAC084S085CIMM is similar but has 4 DACs. We could use the extra DACs to add more programmable output power supplies, or add a simple analog signal generator on a few of the IO pins. It’s available at Mouser for $1.58 in 100s, and at SZLCSC for $1.15 (8.68RMB) with 1700 available and 1300 shipped in the last month. That’s several good signs: it’s cheaper than the 2 DAC version ($2 vs $1.15), RMB price is cheaper than USD price, and there is a fair amount of stock and turnover at SZLCSC which means it’s probably being used in production somewhere. This seems like a good candidate.

Just to further verify, there are 50K in stock at the TI store, and 20K in stock at Digikey for a slightly higher price.

Source: DAC082S085 datasheet

Commands are 16bits, but where it really shines is the 40MHz maximum update speed. Twice as many DACs, and twice twice as fast as the Microchip DACs.

This is by no accounts an exhaustive list, but after looking at stock on Mouser, Digikey, and SZLCSC these were the best options close to $1. Did we miss your favorite DAC?

App note: MUX-friendly precision operational amplifiers

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Another App note from Texas Instruments on op-amp input safety from breakdown voltages during source switch-over. Link here (PDF)

Multiplexing is a frequently used technique to perform data acquisition in multichannel systems with minimal signal-chain requirements. In this context, the role of the multiplexer (MUX) in an acquisition system is to switch between channels, and send each signal as quickly as possible to a single data converter, thus maximizing system throughput and minimizing delay. To provide accurate processing, a precision amplifier is placed downstream from the multiplexer to precisely drive the analog-to-digital converter (ADC).

App note: Precision current measurements on high-voltage powersupply rails

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Two methods for measuring current and what sense amplifier used are tackled in this app note from Texas Instruments. Link here (PDF)

Current is a signal that can provide valuable insight into how a system is operating. Under defined conditions, the amount of current required to perform a task is consistent, making the current information a useful indicator to determine if the system is operating within expectations. There are multiple measurement methods and locations where current is measured to evaluate this informative signal.

App note: Simplify home audio systems With the PCM9211 – A versatile audio interface transceiver

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A digital interface PCM9211 from Texas Instruments app note. Link here (PDF)

Large-screen HDTVs are selling in huge volumes over last few years, primarily driven by amazing improvements in picture quality & form factor (thinner screens). The form factor constraints from having skinny screens result in tiny built-in speakers that are undersized, under-powered and are typically aimed at wrong direction. Hence sound bars have exploded in popularity as complementary audio system by providing a sound experience that more closely matches the TV’s life-like pictures. In addition, with release of HDMI 2.1 specification we finally have a nocompromise audio solution for HDMI as part of the eARC [enhanced Audio Return Channel]. This tech note reviews eARC and simplified Sound Bar design using PCM9211 and how to interface eARC signals with PCM9211.

App note: Overcurrent event detection circuit

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Sample overcurrent detection circuit from Texas Instruments. Link here (PDF)

This is a unidirectional current sensing solution generally referred to as overcurrent protection (OCP) that can provide an overcurrent alert signal to shut off a system for a threshold current and re-engage the system once the output drops below a desired voltage lower than the overcurrent output threshold voltage.

App note: Active filtering in automotive audio applications

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App note from Texas Instruments on isolating DC and high frequency noise in audio using their automotive op amps. Link here (PDF)

Phone calls, emergency alerts, and music are just a few of the reasons that a high quality audio system is vital in automotive infotainment and clusters. Operational amplifiers (op amps) are one of the most common building blocks of automotive audio circuits. Many designers choose to incorporate op amps into their automotive audio circuits in order to increase audio performance. Higher order filters, which can be created through a combination of second order filters, attenuate noise more aggressively than lower order filters. Additionally, active filters remove the chance of unwanted interference with the audio signal.

App note: Capacitive sensing: Direct vs remote liquid-level sensing performance analysis

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Capacitive liquid level sensing method comparison discussed in this app note from Texas Instruments. Link here (PDF)

Capacitive-based liquid level sensing is making its way into the consumer, industrial, and automotive markets due to its system sensitivity, flexibility, and low cost. With using TI’s capacitive sensing technology, the system flexibility allows designers to have the choice of placing the sensors directly on the container (direct sensing) or in close proximity to the container (remote sensing). Each configuration has its own advantages and disadvantages. This application note highlights the system differences and performance of direct and remote sensing to provide guidance in how capacitive-based liquid-level sensing is affected.

App note: How to select an ambient light sensor for your end equipment

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Another application note from Texas Instruments about ambient light sensors and how to effectively use them. Link here (PDF)

Generally, when someone thinks of trying to design a system with an ambient light sensor there are four main concerns or problems that need to be addressed. The most important features of an ambient light sensor are spectral response, power, size, and range of lux measurement.

App note: How to isolate signal and power in isolated CAN systems

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CAN system isolation app note from Texas Instruments, Link here (PDF)

With the increase in the usage of signal isolation in many industrial and automotive applications, the need for isolated power has also increased. The benefits of isolation are lost if the power supplies on either side of the isolation barrier are simply shorted. At the same time, if the isolated power sub-systems are not designed carefully, it affects the overall system performance like temperature rise due to poor power transfer efficiency, data corruption due to emissions, and so on. To simplify the design process of isolated CAN sub-systems, this document provides various options (discrete and integrated) to isolate CAN signals and power.

App note: Detecting selfie sticks using TI audio jack switches TS3A227E and TS3A225E

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Old app note from Texas Instruments on smart phone selfie sticks button detection. Link here (PDF)

Selfie sticks are becoming as common of a smart phone accessory as a pair of headphones. Because of the selfie stick’s increasing popularity, smart phone manufacturers need to be able to accommodate the accessory. This report describes the procedure required for a smart phone to detect when a selfie stick accessory is inserted into a smart phone’s audio jack receptacle using TI audio jack switches TS3A227E and TS3A225E. It shows how these devices respond to common selfie-stick implementations and how to adjust the audio jack switch’s register settings to accommodate both traditional audio accessories as well as the new selfie stick accessory.