I would like to confirm my understanding.
Suppose I want to have two battery-powered MCUs inside an (unmanned) aircraft communicate with each other via RS-485. If those MCUs are powered from the same battery, or if their grounds are connected, both MCUs should be able to communicate since they are both on (nearly?) the same ground potential. This should especially hold true, when the aircraft is small and interconnecting ground-lines are short and low-impedance. Correct?
Now, suppose one MCU is powered by a separate battery with no ground connection to the others. In my understanding the different between the two battery grounds is arbitrary - could be some mV (in which case communication will be possible) - or much more (in which case the RS-485 transceivers break). Correct?
Provided above points are correct, I figure that I either need an:
- isolated RS-485 transceiver on the separate node with the 'outward' ground tied to the ground of the remaining MCUs. However, I then also need to power the outward interface either with an isolated DC/DC converter or from the other nodes.
- isolated RS-485 transceivers on all nodes, powered by local isolated DC/DC converters
- RS-485 transceiver with high common-mode range like LTC2863
I'm more inclined towards the last option due to the lower part count and complexity. Yet, I'm also interested in other suggestions.
Curiously, while there are many non-isolated DC/DC modules available in any form and power, I've yet to find a small, low-profile isolated DC/DC regulator of ~100mA output current. Can someone suggest a suitable part?
Clarification I'm looking for a small footprint (< 10mm x 10mm), low-profile (<2.5mm) part. All those 5W bricks are way too large for my purpose, considering that the transceivers require <100mA of current. Note that I've no regulatory requirements since we are not dealing with high voltages. Isolation is only needed to protect some components from harm. Therefore we really don't need too large packages that - as I understand - are mostly there to achieve enough distance between isolated pins.