Integrated Circuits

From OpenCircuits
Jump to: navigation, search

An integrated circuit (also called a chip) is a sliver of silicon in a small package with metal "pins" (also called "legs") used to attach it to other things. There are a few Popular Parts that are useful in nearly every electronics project. The main categories of integrated circuits are:


ADC: Analog to Digital Converter

This device takes an analog input and converts it to a digital value. There are a huge variety of ADCs available. Types vary by:

  • Number of bits of resolution.
  • Span of voltage from lowest to highest, and various methods of adjusting this.
  • Speed of conversion.
  • Method of conversion.
  • Method of reading data from the ADC.

If you need 10 bits or less of resolution, counter-intuitively, it costs less to buy an ADC plus a microcontroller on one chip than to buy a stand-alone ADC.

  • ATTINY13V -- lowest-price chip I know of with at least one 10 bit ADC
  • ATTINY261 -- lowest $/ADC chip I know of
  • LPC2101FBD48 -- lowest-price 32-bit microcontroller I know of with at least one internal 10 bit ADC

Many people (*) do EKGs with only 10 bit converters.

The Programmable Chip EEG might need more bits of resolution.

What low-cost ADC are available with at least 12 bits? (prices in quantity 1 from Newark or Digikey)

  • $2.50 MCP3301 has 1 ADC input (13 bits)
  • $3.50 MCP3302 has 2 ADC input (13 bits)
  • $3.50 MCP3204 has 4 ADC input (12 bits)
  • $4 MCP3208 has 8 ADC input (12 bits)
  • $7 dsPIC30F 2011 microcontroller has 8 ADC inputs (12 bits). See dsPIC30F 5011 Development Board for details.
  • $10 18F2553 USB microcontroller has 12bit ADC( $5.11 from in single unit quantities )
  • $6.50 CY8C27443 Cypress PSoC microcontroller has 4 ADC inputs (14 bits) -- but what is the sampling rate? Also has 4 DAC outputs (9 bits).
  • $56 analog devices AD7716: four independent, simultaneous 22 bit ADCs.
  • the Maxim MAX1464 includes a 16-bit ADC, 12-bit DAC, a programmable gain amp (PGA), temp sensor, and 16-bit processor. Its program is in Flash and can be re-programmed. (Replaces the obsolete Maxim MAX1460)
  • $16 Analog Devices AduC812: 200kHz 12-bit ADC, 12-bit DAC, and flash-based 8051 MCU core.
  • $15 Maxim MAXQ7665: 500ksps 12-Bit ADC, 12-Bit DAC, flash-based 16-bit MAXQ MCU core
  • $7 to $16 Texas Instruments MSP430: 300 ksps 12 bit ADC, 35 ksps 12 bit DAC
  • $8.10 Atmel ATxmega128A1: sixteen 2 Msps 12-bit ADC, four 1 Msps 12-bit DAC (alas, not available in DIP package)(is this available yet?)
  • $60 Actel Fusion AFS250-PQG208: has 30 ADC input (12 bits; up to 600 ksps), a FPGA, and a 32-bit ARM processor (not available in DIP package. Also, not really "low cost").[1][2]

I am astonished to discover that (a few) microcontrollers include 12 bit or more ADCs. Are there others? --DavidCary 18:48, 28 August 2007 (PDT)

For information on use see: Using ADCs

Digital to Analog Converters

These devices take an digital input and convert it to an analog output

Digital Potentiometers

Digital Potentiometers(AD5204) The digital Potentiometers made by analog devices (AD5204) has 255 positions can be adjusted by the microcomputer that can receive commands from the computer. This is a great way for analog circuitry to have digital control. This is a chip with 4 digitally controlled POTs and the pots can be daisy chained to have multiple chips controlled by a single SPI interface.

Unlike a mechanical POT, digital POTs often have the restriction that one of the three terminals of the POT needs GND, making these devices harder to use in applications where none of the three terminals is GND -- such as LCD contrast adjustment, where the contrast is controlled by a voltage lower than GND.


The basic idea behind the driver is that you have already had the brains of the circuit figure out what to do, now you need some little boost ( often just current and/or voltage ) to finish the circuit and "drive" the final component. ( what we have here is just a tiny beginning on this subject ) The simplest driver is just a transistor boosting the output of a microcontroller. In fact a common application of drivers is to boost microcontroller outputs. Other dirvers are complicated enough to be compared to custom programed microcontrolles with power outputs.

Motor Drivers

Main Article: motor driver

There are various types some, such as H bridges which allow a dc motor to be run either forward or reverse. Others drive stepper motors while still others drive brushless motors. Parts include:

Low Side Driver Arrays

Typically these have low voltage ( 5 v ) low current inputs which switch a output circuit, on the low side, either on or off. Often 8 drivers come in a single IC, enough to drive 2 stepper motors. Parts include: ULN2803

High Side Driver Arrays

Similar to Low Side Driver Arrays, but switching on the high side. Parts include: UCN2981 UCN2982 UCN2984

Mosfet Drivers

Mosfets are basically voltage controlled devices, but the input is also a capicator. Because of this you need considerable current to charge the capicator and switch them on fast. Parts include:

Seven Segment Drivers

Parts include:

Others Drivers

LM35 Temperature Sensor

See Sensors

Logic Gates

Logic gates are the building blocks of digital circuits. Any digital circuit including microprocessors can be built out of the NOT function plus AND or OR. Different chips are distinguished by speed, voltage level, output drive, and power used. They are often divided into families which have characteristics in common. There are hundreds of different types.

Common forms found in discrete gates:

  • NAND - NOT of an AND
  • NOR - NOT of an OR
  • XOR - exclusive or
  • Flip-Flop - A 1 bit storage element that can be built out of more fundamental logic gates. Often available in packages of 8 and sold by the name of Latch or Register.

Descrete gates are available in a very large number of variations. The variations include TTL or CMOS inputs, standard vs. open collector outputs, and propagation delay.

There are hundreds of other specialized logic gates. Here we only list the ones we actually use in some Open Circuit Project:

  • 74HC595 eight bit shift register with output latch (used for POV display) There are other shift registers, some of quite high power ( generally low side switches ) we should reference some here soon, else google for them. Some are intended to drive led's.
  • Low pin count( 8 - 12 ) microcontrollers are great for logic gate replacement when high speed is not required. Athough slower, slightly more expensive, and needing to be programmed they are great for prototyping due to the extra flexibility that comes from not needing to stock lots of gate variations.
  • FPGAs are flexible ICs contain a very large number of gates( thousands to millions ) that can be arbitrarily connected together through programming in VHDL. Only available in surface mount large pin counts. Many people prototype processor designs with these devices (Wikipedia: soft microprocessor).



See microcontroller for details.

Op Amps

Op amps and instrumentation amps.

An operational amplifier is one of the most useful of linear ( not digital ) circuits. It is normally a fairly low power device ( 15 volts 10 ma or less ) that can amplify, clip, offset.... op amps: great for amplifying weak signals from sensors to a more useful level. Also used in filters, integrators, etc. Very high gain differential amplifiers. Feedback through a resistor network is used to adjust final gain. Resistors and capacitors can be placed in the feedback path to create complex circuits such as filters. Often use it with a micro controller to “condition” signals from sensors prior to digitizing them. For example a temperature sensor may deliver 0 to 1 volt, where we want 0 to 5 volts for the PIC. The solution: a quick little op amp amplifier with a gain of 5.


  • Amplifiers
  • Filters
  • Oscillator
  • Clippers
  • and on and on

See our main discussion at: op amp

RF ICs/Modules

Many open-source radio communication systems use an RF IC.

RF modules allow transmission and reception of digital signals over radio. The two most common types are AM and FM( FSK ). The three major frequency bands used by unlicensed devices are 433MHz, 900MHz, and 2.4GHz. 433MHz has very limited uses by the FCC and is mostly used by garage door openers and wireless key entry systems. Many newer devices are moving to 2.4GHz due to the greater amount of room, althrough 2.4GHz is harder to use and has less range then the same power 900MHz system.

A major consideration when choosing an RF IC/Module is the amount of protocol stack that the device contains. Some modules are little more then a modulator and demodulator with the digital input and output directly controlling the RF signal. Other modules are complete serial line wire replacement modules that implement frequency hopping, pairing, error correct/detection, and retransmission of broken data.

Linx Technologies makes several low power RF transmitter/receiver chips. Their range is around 500' - 1000'. They are geared for one way communication only, like keyless entry systems. They also make several serial encoding chips that make the wireless communication more secure/crack proof. Their latest chip, the HS series, is based upon the SkipJack algorithm developed by the NSA. BBA broadband ampifier modules are available for boosting the signal power to 17dBm when combined with the HP-3 modules and FHSS techniques.

Xbee wireless module XBee/XBee Pro modules Modules are a drop in Zigbee module. Modules have a UART style interface with an AT command set. Cheap and very popular, these modules are great for serial cable replacement or remote sensor monitoring.

Sparkfun Bluetooth Module Dropin module with a complete Bluetooth stack. Modules also have a UART interface with a AT command set. An advantage is many laptops and cellphones have a Bluetooth transceiver builtin.

Nordic Modules from Sparkfun Tranceiver modules that have a SPI interface and are capable of transmitting packets at 1Mbps. Modules implement packet indentification and CRC checksum compution but don't have a protocol stack per say. A large number of channels are available making FHSS possible, but the modules has a maximum power of 0dBm making them only suitable for short range communication.

XE1205 Chip from Semtec Transceiver IC with builtin 15dBm power amplifer. IC has a SPI interface with the data being transmitted with any wire format(NRZ/Manchester). DP1205 dropin modules are available which contain all the necessary descrete components. IC allows very rich configuration including frequency down to 500Hz, frequency deviation, and baseband filter. Available in 433MHz and 900MHz versions.

Cypress Semiconductor makes several 2.4ghz transceiver modules, which are available for sampling, and are fully assembled with PCB antennas. They use SPI to be configured and to communicate with the microcontroller. The CYWM6934 (10 meter range) and CYWM6935 (50 meter range) are both very easy to interface with. ratmandu 20:06, 23 November 2007 (PST)

Voltage Regulators

Input to a regulator is a voltage that either varies over time or varies with the load. The output is a voltage that is constant. Many voltage regulators also include a current limiter and/or short circuit protection. They come in two basic varities linear and switching. Switching regulators are more complicated and expensive, but are also more efficient, and can sometimes have a larger output voltage than the input.

Linear Regulators
High current, Variable Voltage Regulator
TPS V-Regs
These are 3.3V and 5V LDO, Low-Noise Voltage Regulators. Very small SOT-23 SMD package. 150mA max current. Best used in battery applications.
Basic Voltage Regulators
Variable voltage regulators, set output regulators, we give you the whole breakdown. Perfect for use with an external wall-wart power supply.
UA723CN Symbol.gif
The 723 Voltage Regulator
Precision Voltage Regulator. Can be used as fixed or floating, variable, linear or switching.

NOTE: Only the DIP-14 version (image) has the Vz pin, which is used for negative regulators. The Metal Can and the Flat-Pack do not have enough pins so exclude the Vz.

Switching Regulators
Extremely Efficient, 120mA Flyback Switching Regulators.

See also:

555 Timers

555 Timers

Personal tools