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For a project involving driving a bunch of LEDs we are using TLC5917 driver IC's (datasheet).

I read up upon decoupling and smoothing capacitors, but I am uncertain if and how we should use them. We are driving the chips at a relatively high frequency, around 30 kHz.

Should we use decoupling capacitors? I think we should on the VDD pin between source voltage and ground, as close as possible to the pin itself (in parallel). But should we also use them on data lines? Output pins?

Also, what size and capacity should they be? Should they be ceramics or electrolytic? This is new to me so I hope someone can clarify it a bit for me. Thanks.

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The decoupling capacitor should be connected between the Vdd and GND pins. These are at one end of the chip, making this easy. Put the cap right there, which allows short traces between the cap and the Vdd and GND pins.

Make sure the GND side of the cap is connected directly to the GND pin, not separately to the ground plane. Then you can connect that net to the ground plane in one place only. This keeps the high frequency currents the bypass cap is shunting off the ground plane.

Use a ceramic cap, about 1 µF.

Added about placement

I don't know what you mean by "on top of". With the chip oriented the way it is shown on page 3 of the datasheet (pin 1 end up), put the cap above it oriented left/right. Use a comfortable size, like 0805, since that's still smaller than the width of the chip. I'd space the cap maybe a mm or a few 10s of mils from the chip package so the pick and place machine has room. The left end of the cap connects to GND (pin 1) and the right end to Vdd (pin 16). These traces are on the top of the board, no vias, and should go straight between the parts.

Then connect the trace between the GND pin and the left end of the cap to your ground in only one place. For best results that would be a board-wide ground plane, but this net will needs to be connected to your ground net somehow.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Thanks for your answer. So we place the capacitor on the top of the IC and connect its lead directly to the pins. But what do you mean with connecting that net to the ground plane? Our PCB is huge (10x50cm, for construction purposes), so should we include a giant ground plane? \$\endgroup\$ – B_s Feb 13 '16 at 13:27
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Bastiaan If a ground plane is impractical -- you can use a ground grid instead. \$\endgroup\$ – ThreePhaseEel Feb 13 '16 at 14:27
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Decoupling capacitors are to be placed as close as possible to the voltage supply connectors, and to the operating component (TLC5917). Ceramic capacitors are ok for your component, you won't need electrolytics. For the capacitance value, 10 µF should be enough.

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