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getting 16 bit from 8 bit ADC in software

Discussion in 'Electronic Design' started by bazhob, Jan 26, 2005.

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  1. bazhob

    bazhob Guest

    Hello there,

    Unfortunately I'm not too much into electronics, but for a
    project in Computer Science I need to measure the output
    from an Opamp/integrator circuit with a precision of 16-bits
    using a standard 8-bit ADC. The integrator is reset every
    500 ms, within that interval we have a slope rising from 0V
    up to a maximum of about 5V, depending on the input signal.

    The paper of the original experiment (which I'm trying to replicate)
    contains the following note: "A MC68HC11A0 micro-controller operated
    this reset signal [...] and performed 8-bit A/D conversion on the
    integrator output. A signal accuracy of 16 bits in the integrator
    reading was obtained by summing (in software) the result of integration
    over 256 sub-intervals."

    Can someone please point me to more information about this
    technique of doubling accuracy in software by dividing the
    measured interval by 256? For a start, what would be the
    technical term for that?

    Thanks a lot!
  2. Tim Wescott

    Tim Wescott Guest

    * Your instructor is cruel and evil, or doesn't really
    understand what he's asking, or he really cares about
    you and is sneaky to boot.

    * A 256-step to 65536-step increase in accuracy is not
    a doubling of accuracy, it is an increase of 256 times.

    * You probably aren't increasing the accuracy by anything
    close to 256 times.

    * You may be increasing resolution by 256 times, though,
    and sometimes that's good enough --

    You can make a pretty good ADC by integrating and timing how long it
    takes to get to a limit (search on "single-slope ADC"). You can improve
    this by integrating up and then down again, timing each segment, and
    doing some math (search on "dual-slope ADC").

    You're being asked to build something akin to a single-slope ADC. You
    should be able to get pretty good resolution by sampling your ADC every
    one or two milliseconds then doing a linear curve fit to get your
    "enhanced" data.

    Note that while you are most certainly going to increase resolution and
    accuracy your accuracy is limited by a heck of a lot more than your
    resolution is; you can probably count on getting a good honest 16 bits
    of resolution, and probably significantly enhanced nonlinearity, but you
    will bump into the other things that limit your accuracy.

    You can investigate your resolution enhancement by simulating the thing
    in a good math package like MatLab, MathCad, Maple, SciLab, etc. I
    highly recommend this. Verifying accuracy means understanding all of
    the accuracy drivers in the ADC and investigating their effect on
    the accuracy of your result. This is a worthwhile goal if you want
    to make a thesis out of it.
  3. This can, at most, increase signal accuracy by a factor of 16
    (four bits), being the square root of 256. And that's assuming
    a number of things about the behaviour of the converter.

    To increase accuracy to 16 bits, you need to take 256*256 samples
    at least, based on random distribution of quantisation errors.

    Clifford Heath.
  4. Joerg

    Joerg Guest

    Hello Toby,
    Have the authors validated that claim with some hardcore measurements,
    such as detecting and restoring a signal that was, say, 13 or 14 dB
    below 5Vpp?

    Regards, Joerg
  5. Tim Wescott

    Tim Wescott Guest

    It's not just quantization, though -- there should be timing information
    available from the slope; merely averaging isn't all there is to it.
  6. mike

    mike Guest

    I thought I understood until I read this.
    If the signal is stable and the A/D is stable, you should get the SAME
    reading every time??? To get improved ACCURACY or RESOLUTION, don't you
    first need a system that's stable to much better than the quantization
    interval then to perturb the input with a signal of known statistics?

    If you're counting on system instability or (uncontrolled) noise to do
    the deed, you're just collecting garbage data. yes? no?

    Return address is VALID.
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  7. John Perry

    John Perry Guest

    I don't know whether the author was being sloppy with his terminology or
    just didn't know what he was talking about, but this is altogether wrong
    as stated.

    Under certain circumstances you can get 16-bit _precision_ by averaging
    many readings froma an 8-bit ADC, but you can never get _accuracy_
    better than your reference, no matter what tricks you try.

    Now, if you're allowed to add a reference known accurate to that level,
    or you can add a 16-bit _accurate_ DAC, and you can add an amplifier to
    amplify your differences, and, finally, your signal is stable long
    enough that you can get through all this process before it changes, you
    can eventually cobble together a measurement to that accuracy.

    Note the long list of "if's". Especially the signal stability. That
    alone can make it impossible to get even a measurement to 16-bit
    _precision_, much less 16-bit _accuracy_.

    Some of the other comments are also appropriate.

    John Perry
  8. Aside from the other comments, you might look at the technique described for the
    Burr Brown DDC101, I believe. It might add another thing to consider.

  9. Tim Wescott

    Tim Wescott Guest

    No, because the input signal is being applied to an integrator, so you
    should see a monotonically increasing ramp. The rest is weird science.
    In this case it's neither uncontrolled nor noise. You can, however,
    count on random noise to increase the effective resolution of an ADC as
    long as it's PDF is wide enough. I've done this very successfully in
    control systems that need high resolution and short-term repeatability,
    but that don't need terribly high accuracy -- so you can take a 16-bit
    ADC that's really only _accurate_ to 15 bits or so, and get 18 or 19
    bits of _resolution_ out of it by oversampling like mad and averaging
    the hell out of it. Note that the accuracy doesn't change -- only the
  10. CBarn24050

    CBarn24050 Guest

    Subject: Re: getting 16 bit from 8 bit ADC in software
    Its not possible the way you described it.
    Exactly, you would need to add a small signal, 1lsb sawtooth, and sample over
    the sawttoth period. Getting a 16 bit absolute reading is very very difficult,
    just about impossible, from a simple setup like this even if you had a real
    16bit adc.
  11. Guest

    The usual name for the perturbing signal is "dither". There is a fair
    amount of literature on the subject if you can find it. My "Comment on
    'Noise averaging and measurement resolution" in Review of Scientific
    Instruments, volume 70, page 4734 (1999) lists a bunch of papers on the
    IIRR random noise isn't too bad as a dither source - there is an ideal
    distribution, but Gaussian noise is pretty close.

    My own experience of getting 16-bit accuracy out of a quasi-quad-slope
    integrator-based ADC was that it took a while, but I had to find out
    about "charge soak" in the integrating capacitor the hard way, and also
    started out relying on the CMOS protection diodes to catch signals
    spiking outside the power rails.

    Switching to a polypropylene capacitor and discrete Schottky catching
    diodes solved both those problems. A colleague of mine once built a
    20-bit system based on a similar integrator, using Teflon(PTFE)
    capacitors and a feedback system that minimised the voltage excursions
    across the integrating capacitor in a much more intricate and expensive
  12. Guy Macon

    Guy Macon Guest

    You make it sound like that's a bad thing.

  13. He is apparently not selling it.

  14. The blind leading the blind, I think it is called.
    'Precision' - meaning what? 1/2 bit of noise in the reading?
    If this was written by someone at your school you may want to transfer

    It is possible to oversample with a V/F or other integrating
    A/D to increase _resolution_: accuracy is out the window.

    To pick up one usable bit of resolution you will have to
    increase the measuring interval by 4. Homework: why?
    Hint: the readings have to be independent.

    To get from 8 bits to 16 bits will require a 4^8 integration
    period increase, or 65,564 readings.

    This is a very profound area of inquiry. Talk to someone
    in signal processing in the EE department.
  15. This happens automatically if you use an asynchronous V/F converter: If there
    are, say, 4.5 V/F periods in the sampling interval then 1/2 the time the reading
    is 4 and half the time it is 5. Since the reading is noise based you have to
    measure 4x to drop the noise by 2x and pick up an extra bit [of resolution].
  16. Rich Grise

    Rich Grise Guest

    You could surprise the living s*** out of everybody and look up
    "half-flash", "semi-flash" or "sub-ranging" ADCs. That's what it
    actually sounds like the perfesser is after. ;-)

    Good Luck!
  17. Tim Wescott

    Tim Wescott Guest

    No, weird science is fun and sometimes lucrative.
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