I am currently using an instrumentation amp (AD623AN) that uses a reference pin. I want to connect the analog output from the amp to my Arduino Ethernet so that I can measure it. How do I wire it up so that I can measure the output in reference to the required reference pin?

Note: When I am finished, I will have three of these amps to wire into one Arduino, so please take that into account if that changes the wiring.

  • \$\begingroup\$ It would help if you provided a link to the datasheet for that opamp. \$\endgroup\$ – Olin Lathrop Oct 14 '11 at 21:06
  • \$\begingroup\$ Ok, I added a link to the datasheet \$\endgroup\$ – Andrew Oct 14 '11 at 21:51
  • \$\begingroup\$ do you want to measure negative as well as positive differences? \$\endgroup\$ – markrages Oct 14 '11 at 22:02
  • \$\begingroup\$ @markrages it looks like the output and reference are always positive, so no, I don't need to measure negative. \$\endgroup\$ – Andrew Dec 12 '11 at 21:34

From the datasheet you can see that this reference pin provides the 0V reference for the output. You can think of this as a level shifter feature. The output voltage appears between the output and the reference, not between the output and some fixed voltage like ground. If you want the output referenced to ground, you simply tie the reference pin to ground at the place the output voltage will be used.

If the differential signals you are measuring are always one polarity, then the reference pin should be tied to the analog ground reference of the microcontroller. If the signals you are measuring are bipolar (the difference between the two input signals can be both positive and negative), then the output will swing both above and below the reference input. In that case, you should tie the reference pin to 1/2 the microcontroller supply voltage. In the firmware the center A/D value will represent 0 input signal, with higher values representing positive and lower negative. For example if you have a 10 bit A/D, the 0 input signal value will be around 512. 1023 indicates positive full scale and 0 negative full scale. To get a signed number in the micro representing the input signal, you have to subtract off this 0 input offset.

A simple resistor divider will give you 1/2 the supply voltage. Keep in mind that the amp reference input has 100 kΩ impedance, so you want to make the 1/2 supply voltage significantly less than that. Two 10 kΩ resistors should do it well enough. Add around 100 nF to ground to attenuate the inevitable noise on the power supply. Otherwise, 1/2 of this noise will be added to all your readings.


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