|Happy Groundhog Day!|
|Q. Why do I have an output when my analog input is grounded?|
The three main strategies for minimizing the effects of ground noise are 1) minimize ground impedance, 2) isolate the grounds of sensitive circuitry from large or noisy currents, or 3) use differential signal transmission to isolate signals from ground noise.
1) It seems that some designers assume room-temperature superconductors have already been invented and that copper is one of them. Some PCB designs have ground traces only a few mils wide, and the resulting voltage drops are humongous. Ground impedance is minimized by using the widest possible PC traces for ground and, preferably, having a whole uninterrupted layer of copper, known as a ground plane.
2) It is also valuable to have separate grounds for sensitive circuitry and for circuits drawing high currents. These separated circuits will need to communicate, so there is usually a single point, known as a "star point" and located near the power supplies, where these two grounds are joined to give a common reference potential. Most mixed-signal systems have analog and digital grounds separated in this way; when this is done the AGND and DGND pins of all ADCs and DACs should be grounded to the analog system ground.
3) If signals are transmitted differentially on two ungrounded "signal" and "return" wires, then ground noise is much less likely to affect their integrity, although common-mode noise may still cause some ill-effects.
It is not widely known that ground noise is what awakens Punxsutawney Phil on Groundhog Day. Ice is a better insulator than liquid water and when the ice around Phil's hole starts to melt ground currents start to flow, ringing a little bell to alert him.
* Device noise or offset is also quite a common cause.
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|James Bryant Offers Intrigue, Interest and Technological Troubleshooting Ideas... engineer, applications manager, philosopher, humorist, columnist and radio ham (G4CLF), only a man with such an eclectic dossier could make the often drab world of semiconductors come to life with such color and imagination.|
For More Information:
Ground Rules for High Speed Circuits (pdf, 365,313 bytes)
Mixed Signal Circuit Technologies (pdf, 2,152,032 bytes)
Grounding for Low-and-High-Frequency Circuits (pdf, 466,906 bytes)
Shielding and Guarding (pdf, 705,482 bytes)
Ask the Engineer:
Ground Impedance & Ground Planes
Ask The Applications Engineer - 10
Ground Loops & Interference
Ask The Applications Engineer - 27
Ask the Applications Engineer, a 30th Anniversary Reader Bonus
See in particular sections 9, 10 and 12
Hardware Design Techniques (pdf, 1,367,571 bytes)
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