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Review of Kester: Analog-Digital Conversion

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This is one of the best and most comprehensive seminar notes from Analog Devices. This epic work contains everything there is to know about A-D converters, and also about D-A converters. In case you are in a hurry to learn about the topic, you may be overhelmed by this amount of information. If you just want a short introduction, you could look e.g. at The Art of Electronics 9.15 Introduction to A/D conversion (p.612) to 9.21 Charge-balancing techniques (some of the mentioned devices are outdated, but the fundamental concepts are nicely explained). However, make sure you keep the link to these seminar notes and come back when you are ready for more exhaustive information. If you have a little more time, but not enough to study the complete notes, just look at chapters 2 and 3.

Chapter 1 about Data Converter History starts with a (mechanical) D-A converter from the 18th century and ends with data converters of the early 2000s (the notes were written in 2004). Naturally, for the more modern converters the text focusses more and more on Analog Devices products. You will find many details here, both historical and technical, plus a very good list of references after each section (this is also true for most of the other chapters).

Chapter 2 is a detailed, but very readable treatment of the fundamentals of sampling and data conversion. Even if you already know about the topic, you should at least look at section 2.5 for a precise definition of the terms that are used in A-D and D-A converters.

Chapter 3 about data converter achitectures is the heart of this notes. It covers all kinds of A-D, D-A converter architectures and Sigma Delta Converters you can think of in much detail, including some interesting information about their history.

Chapter 4 is interesting if you are interested in IC design and its history, but not so important if you design circuits on the board level.

Chapter 5 covers testing of D-A and A-D converters.

Large parts of chapter 6 about interfacing to data converters contain specific information about Analog Devices products, but section 6.5 about sampling clock generation contains some interesting information about jitter.

Chapter 7, Data Converter Support Circuits, covers voltage references, low drop out regulators, switches and multiplexers and sample-and-hold circuits.

In Chapter 8 about Data Converter Applications I liked especially section 8.1 (Precision Measurement and Signal Conditioning). It includes a design example of a weigh scale, starting with the specifications and showing step by step how they can be met by an elegant design and choosing the right components. Several temperature sensors and the related signal conditioning circuits are also covered. The next sections cover multichannel data acquisition systems, digital potentiometers, digital audio and video, software radio and IF sampling (this field is evolving very fast, and you should consult a more recent publication for the latest developments), DDS, and finally a section called Precision Analog Microcontrollers, which only covers the MicroConverter product family.

Chapter 9 covers hardware design techniques. Similar versions of this chapter are also included in most of the other Analog Devices seminar notes, but this one (from 2004) seems to be the most recent version and includes the most recent references, so you should have a look at it even if you have already read a similiar text in another of the seminar notes. Very valuable and practical advice for every designer of analog circuitry.

You should also take a look at the other Analog Devices seminar notes.

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