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Describe the operation of a basic analog-to-digital converter (ADC).

1 Answer

An Analog-to-Digital Converter (ADC) is an electronic device or circuit that converts continuous analog signals into discrete digital values. This conversion process enables digital systems, such as microcontrollers or computers, to process and manipulate analog data.

Here's a basic overview of how an ADC operates:

Sampling: The ADC first samples the analog signal to be converted. This involves taking regular snapshots of the analog signal's voltage at specific intervals. The rate at which these snapshots are taken is called the sampling rate.

Quantization: After sampling, the continuous analog voltage values are quantized into discrete digital values. This involves dividing the range of possible analog voltages into a finite number of levels. Each level corresponds to a specific digital value. The number of possible levels is determined by the ADC's resolution, usually measured in bits. For instance, an 8-bit ADC can represent 2^8 = 256 levels, while a 12-bit ADC can represent 2^12 = 4096 levels.

Comparison and Encoding: The ADC compares the sampled analog voltage with the thresholds corresponding to the quantization levels. It then assigns a digital code to the sampled voltage based on the closest threshold. This code represents the digital approximation of the original analog value.

Conversion and Output: The digital code obtained from the encoding step is the digital representation of the analog input. This code can be used directly by digital systems for further processing or manipulation. It can be stored in memory, transmitted over digital communication channels, or used for control purposes.

There are different architectures for ADCs, each with its own advantages and disadvantages. Some common ADC architectures include:

Successive Approximation ADC: This type of ADC iteratively refines the digital code by comparing the input analog voltage
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