Noise Reduction and Isolation
Noise Reduction and Isolation
Controlling noise in measurement systems is
vital because it can become a serious problem
even in the best instruments and data acquisition hardware. Most laboratories and industrial
environments contain abundant electrical-noise
sources, including AC power lines, heavy
machinery, radio and TV stations, and a variety
of electronic equipment. Radio stations generate
high-frequency noise, while computers and
other electronic equipment generate noise in all
frequency ranges. Building a completely noisefree environment just for running tests and
measurements is seldom a practical solution.
Fortunately, simple devices and techniques such
as using proper grounding methods, shielded
and twisted wires, signal averaging methods,
filters, and differential input voltage amplifiers
can control the noise in most measurements.
Some techniques prevent
10.01from entering
the system, while others remove extraneous
noise from the signal.
A non-technical dictionary defines the term
ground as a place in contact with the earth, a
common return in an electrical circuit, and an
arbitrary point of zero voltage potential.
Grounding, or connecting some part of an electrical circuit to ground ensures safety for personnel
and it usually improves circuit operation.
Unfortunately, a safe environment and a robust
ground system often do not happen simultaneously. It takes planning based on systematically
understanding how electricity behaves in various
types of circuits. For example, high redundancy
is one key feature that makes most of the electrical distribution systems around the world safe
and operate properly.
Grounding for Safety
Isolated secondaries of step-down power distribution transformers are generally grounded near
the transformer and within the first switching
Control Panel Grounding
Circuit breaker
Hot phase A
Hot phase B
Fig. 10.01. Utility power transformers are typically
grounded to earth ground near the transformer, and
again at the input to the electrical junction box or
first switching panel. The switching panel, in turn,
may be connected to a rod driven into the earth to
ensure that it too is at true ground potential.
panel in the wired path to the eventual load. (See
Figure 10.01.) The ground is a point within the
panel connected to a nearby earth ground rod.
Typically, a large or significant structure (building
frame) or metallic system (plumbing) is also
connected to the same point. This minimizes
voltage differences that may develop between a
water pipe and an appliance with a three-wire
grounded cord, for example. An electrical fault
such as a non-grounded conductor contacting a
metal object is designed to open a fuse or trip a
breaker rather than leave an electrically energized
appliance at a higher potential than a nearby
water pipe or a sink faucet. If the ground connection in the panel disconnects for any reason, the
redundant ground near the transformer will
provide the path for fault currents to open fuses
or trip breakers. Preventing electrical shocks and
electrical fires is the highest priority for ground
circuits, but the redundancies built into many
electrical grounding systems occasionally limit
certain kinds of connections for input to data
acquisition systems.
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Interfering Ground loop
Common Grounds
150 mV
Vin = 2.65V
Vout = 2.50V
common return
Default ground
30 mA
150 mV
30 mA RL
500 ft.
Fig. 10.03. The 150 mV dropped across RL in the bottom
ground return line arises from the 30 mA of current flowing
in 5.2 W of lead wire resistance. The voltage adds to the
sensor’s 2.50V signal to yield 2.65V at the input to the
signal-conditioning amplifier and produces a 6.6% error.
Fig. 10.02. Significant current fed to multiple circuits should
have individual return paths to a common ground or negative
terminal. This reduces the risk of voltage drops developing over
long ground runs or lead wires that could become input (error)
Figure 10.03
signals to other circuits.
few milliseconds and is usually not a safety hazard. But
the problem can be much more serious if lightning strikes
a safety ground structure and thousands of amperes flow
through the ground system. Potential differences across
even a fraction of an ohm can easily exceed 1,000 VAC
and damage equipment and endanger lives.
Grounding for Robust Instrumentation
Several internal, common busses in a data control instrument are arranged to regulate current flows and terminate
all paths at one common point. This approach ensures
that the current flowing in any path will not force a
voltage drop in a return path for another circuit and
appear as an (erroneous) input signal. (See Figure 10.02.)
Usually, this one common point connects through low
impedances to the safety ground connection on the
instrument’s AC power cord. This connection prevents
the internal system from floating at an AC potential
between earth ground and the input AC supply potential.
Symptoms of Ground Loops
Sometimes, a measurement error is mistakenly attributed to a ground loop problem, especially where a
ground is not strictly involved. The phenomenon
relates to two types of situations; shared current flow
in a circuit path, which produces unintended voltages, and inadvertent circuits that interfere with the
proper operation of intended circuits.
How Ground Loops are Created
A ground loop problem can be illustrated by the
following example. An integrated sensor with internal
signal conditioning contains three wires; a positive
power supply lead, a signal output lead, and a negative
lead that serves as both the power return and signal
common. (See Figure 10.03.) The sensor’s internal
circuitry draws about 30 mA and the output signal
ranges from 0 to 5 VDC.
Measuring instruments that contain an earth ground as
described above usually generate a ground loop. A ground
loop can become a serious problem even when the ground
voltage on the measured point equals the ground voltage
entering the instrument through the line cord. A voltage
that develops between the two grounds can be either an
AC or a DC voltage of any value and frequency, and as the
voltage and frequency increase, the effects of the ground
loop become more troublesome.
The sensor is stimulated and a digital voltmeter reads the
correct output of 2.50 VDC on the test bench. But when
the three leads are extended by 500 feet with 20 AWG
wire (10.4 W/1,000 ft. at 20˚C), the common lead wire
carrying the 30 mA of power supply current drops about
150 mV. This lead resistance voltage drop adds to the
sensors output voltage and delivers 2.65 VDC to the
digital voltmeter. The error amounts to about 6.6% and
Dangerous and Destructive Ground Loops
A transient current can generate a substantial voltage on
grounded conductors. During an electrical fault when an
energized conductor contacts a safety ground, for example,
a fraction of the supply voltage can end up on the safety
ground before the fuse or circuit breaker supplying the
fault opens and removes the voltage. This happens in a
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Single-ended Measurement: Unprotected Wires
Bypassed Ground Loop
150 mV
30 mA
Vout =
Vin =
150 mV
30 mA
500 ft.
Fig. 10.04. A separate wire run from the sensor ground
(or common terminal) bypasses the power supply ground
wire voltage drop. The true output signal of the sensor
(Vout) reaches the amplifier input terminals because the
input draws negligible current.
Time [seconds]
Fig. 10.05. Radiated noise spikes are easily picked up on nontwisted, non-parallel, unshielded lead wires connected to the
single-ended amplifier input terminals, even when the inputs
are shorted together.
Figure 10.05
what’s worse, it varies widely with the temperature of the
wire. The specific application determines whether the
error can be tolerated or not.
When the current drawn by the sensor circuit is not a
steady state value, that is, it consists of an ambient level
combined with a dynamic component, the error introduced will be time varying. It might be a relatively high
frequency, which acts as noise in the measured output,
or it may be in perfect synch with the physical phenomenon being sensed. It then affects the magnitude of the
time-varying output signal. Both types of errors often
appear in data acquisition systems.
supply. Differential input connections used with the
analog common, which is referenced to the power supply
return terminal, eliminates the effect of the ground loops
inherent in this multiple-sensor arrangement.
Another type of ground-loop error is crosstalk between
channels. This may be defined as an interaction between
readings on two or more channels, which may be static or
dynamic. When multiple channels are used and ground
loops exist, the simplified errors described previously
most likely will be compounded by contributions from
other channels. The crosstalk may or may not be obvious.
How to Eliminate Ground Loops
Static Crosstalk
A reliable trouble-shooting method analyzes current flow
and predicts its results. The wires from the intended
point of measurement must carry only current associated
with the bias requirements of the analog input channel.
(See Figure 10.04.) These currents are typically measured
in microamperes. At lower voltage levels, they can be
altered substantially if forced to share extremely long
wires carrying merely mA. A detailed wiring diagram and
a circuit schematic can provide insight and understanding to help prevent this type of problem before
hundreds of feet of wire are installed.
Consider a group of static channels with steady voltages,
that when measured individually, yield accurate readings.
However, when each channel is connected to an input of
the data acquisition system and the readings change, the
change indicates that crosstalk is generated by a steadystate ground loop. Likewise, when the reading of a
channel changes by connecting another channel, crosstalk
exists and the problem is a ground loop.
Dynamic Crosstalk
Dynamic crosstalk is the name given to the situation
where a known dynamic signal on a particular channel
appears in a physically unrelated channel. The steadystate currents drawn by the transducers discussed in the
previous example are idealized for simplicity. These
currents commonly vary with the measured physical
variables along with the errors.
Frequently, multiple wires running between two locations
cannot be shared. When a common wire is shared, the
current in one channel affects the voltage reading in
another channel. In the previous numerical example, a
fourth wire connected to the lower end of a differential
measurement channel provides an output voltage that
can be measured accurately with a high degree of confidence. This approach is most effective when the system
supports three wires, and they share a common power
Sequentially reading signals of widely varying magnitudes produce sequential crosstalk in multiplexed data
acquisition systems. Capacitive or inductive coupling
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Proper Installation and Use of Shields
Single-ended Measurement:
Shielded Wires
Typically, a shield terminates at one end only, unless it
extends to the shield in another span of the same
channel wiring. The shield can terminate at either the
transducer end or the input channel end, but not both.
When the sensor or transducer is in a shielded metallic
enclosure, which is also connected to earth ground, the
shield may be connected at the sensor end and remain
open at the input channel terminals. When the sensor is
well insulated, the shield may float and connect to the
analog common of the data acquisition system input
terminals. Occasionally, multiple-conductor cables
composed of a bundle of wires and an overall shield are
acceptable for a group of high-level, DC or low-frequency
signals, but would not be recommended for the general
data acquisition case. Compromising a well planned
wiring system with low quality wire, shared conductors
or shields, and parallel, untwisted wires will produce less
than optimum results.
Time [seconds]
Fig. 10.06. Shielded wires reduce electrical noise pick up at
the input of single-ended amplifier input terminals, but other
techniques often are more effective.
between channels generates crosstalk in systems with
06 (7.02)improperly or carelessly dressed wires. Generally,
however, these are not attributed to ground loops and
are less common.
Isolation is defined as the separation of one signal from
another to prevent unintentional interaction between
them. All multiplexed data acquisition systems contain
a certain degree of channel-to-channel isolation; relaybased systems have galvanic isolation while solid-state
systems do not. Galvanic isolation is the absence of any
DC path. Most isolation methods eliminate all DC
paths below 100 MW. Three major benefits of galvanic
isolation are circuit protection, noise reduction, and
high common-mode voltage rejection, especially those
developed by ground loops.
Metallic shields placed around equipment and test leads
effectively prevent noise from either entering or leaving
the system. For example, loose or exposed wires become
antennas for radio frequency signal pickup, and can
form loops that radiate noise.
To emphasize the need for controlling noise, Figure
10.05 shows a single-ended voltage measurement on a
shorted channel. Approximately 6 feet of wire, not
twisted or shielded, was attached to the data acquisition
system. Figure 10.06 shows the noise in a single-ended,
shorted channel using shielded cable with obvious
Computer-based data acquisition equipment makes
possible an array of multiple channel measurements
previously beyond the economic reach of many applications. This has been accomplished by user acceptance of
two major compromises, multiplexing and non-isolated
inputs. Multiplexing is successful when the sampling
rate is adequately high and the source impedances are
sufficiently low. Lack of isolation places an entirely
different kind of limitation on the type of input signals
that can be connected.
The best instrumentation wiring schemes consist of carefully grouped lines, twisted in pairs, occasionally covered
with a second shield, and routed through a dedicated
conduit or raceway. A shielded, twisted pair is quite
commonly used in a channel to connect a signal from a
source to an input terminal. Shields minimize capacitive
coupling and twisted wires minimize inductive coupling.
Circuit Protection
Isolation separates the signal source from the measurement circuitry that could be damaged by the signal.
Voltages higher than about 10V can distort data or
damage components used in the system. High-voltage
input signals or signals containing high-voltage spikes
should therefore be isolated. The protection also works in
the opposite direction to safeguard a sensitive signal
conditioner from a device failing elsewhere in the system.
Proximity to other wires, especially power wires carrying
high voltages and high currents can couple noise into lowlevel signal conductors. Capacitive coupling can exist
between any two pieces of metal in close proximity,
including two conductors in totally separate circuits.
Likewise, air-core transformer coupling can crop up between
two closed wiring loops in totally separate circuits.
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terminals with the condition that the two input voltages
be identical. In other words, the two input terminals may
be connected together and the common-mode voltage
applied between the shorted inputs and the common
terminal as shown in Figure 10.07. In a practical test and
measurement situation, the common-mode voltage may
exceed the instrument amplifier’s input rating, which is
typically less than 10V. For safe and accurate measurements, common-mode voltages higher than 10V must be
isolated from the instrumentation amplifier while allowing
the measured signal to pass. Common types of isolation
amplifiers use magnetic, optical, or capacitive means to
couple the signal.
Common-Mode Input Voltage
100 kW
100 kW
100 kW
VoCM =
95.3 kW
Magnetic Isolation
0.1% resistors
Special instrument amplifiers use transformers that
magnetically couple analog-type AC signals from the input
section to the output section while effectively sustaining
high common-mode voltages. Transformer coupling also
lets them provide isolated power to the input stage without
using a separate DC/DC converter. A particular instrument
amplifier contains an input op amp with a CMRR of about
130 dB at a gain of 100, and 2000V peak common mode
voltage isolation. Similar instrumentation amplifiers are
available for powering isolated bridges, cold junction
compensation, linearization, and other special signalconditioning requirements. (See Figure 10.08.)
Fig. 10.07. Common-mode voltage is measured between the
two input terminals and the common terminal. Because the
two inputs must have identical voltages, they may be tied
together and connected to one voltage source.
Computer-based data acquisition equipment is most often
connected to a host computer, which is connected to
earth ground. The analog inputs of plug-in cards and most
economical external systems are not electrically isolated
from earth ground or each other. Many applications are
compatible with this situation, but some applications face
a problem with high common-mode voltage.
Optical Isolation
Optical isolation is now the most commonly used method
to couple digital signals. The measured input voltage signal
is converted to a current, which activates a light-emitting
diode within an optical coupler. A light-sensitive transistor
located adjacent to the diode, but on the opposite side of a
voltage barrier, converts the light signal back to a current
that the instrumentation amplifier can handle. The voltage
Rejection of High Common-Mode Voltage
Common-mode input voltage is defined as the voltage
applied between the common terminal and the two input
Transformer Isolation Technique
VRS= 5 V
+Viso Out
–Viso Out
VOUT = 5 V
& filter
+15V DC
Power return
Fig. 10.08. This instrumentation amplifier with transformer coupling is typically used in an industrial process control loop and provides
galvanic isolation in both input and output circuits. It can measure a ±5 VDC signal riding on a common-mode voltage as high as 2000V.
Figure 10.08
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Optical Isolation Technique
Modulator/Demodulator Coupling
Analog section
Opto's Control
Com 1
Gnd 1
Digital section
0.1 µF
10 Ω
Ps Gnd
Fig. 10.09. Optical devices are the most widely used component for coupling signals across high-potential barriers and for
low-level signals that are prone to the electrical noise typically
coupled through different ground potentials.
Duty cycle
Duty cycle
Com 2
Gnd 2
Fig. 10.10. Low-cost isolation amplifiers couple DC signals
by modulating the signal, coupling its ac equivalent through
a substrate capacitor connecting the stages, and then demodulating the signal to restore it to its original DC value.
barrier typically provides as much as several thousand volts
(7.08) of isolation between input and output.
Optical devices also are commonly used to isolate the
output of an ADC, which is usually a serial string of
data pulses passing through
a single
Figure 10.10
new book)
(See Figure 10.09.) The serial string is often converted
from several parallel signals (ranging from 8 to 24
output ports, for example) to minimize the number of
optical devices required in a system. Parallel to serial
conversion circuits are less expensive than the 8 to 24
optical devices (one for each bit of output from the
parallel ADC). In these instances, the power supply for
the ADC and associated input circuitry are also isolated,
usually with a transformer.
Programmable Amplifier
Opto couplers
Capacitive Isolation
To A/D
A capacitor is a passive device that couples AC voltage
from one stage to another while blocking the DC
component. By this definition, it’s a simple but
Typical of each channel
inexpensive isolator. The measured signal to be isolated
Fig. 10.11 All three techniques of isolation are used in a
is modulated and coupled through the capacitor to the
multi-channel, programmable amplifier. Optical devices coureceiving side. On the receiving side, the AC signal is
ple digital signals, capacitors couple analog signals, and the
demodulated to restore the original signal. This technique
DC/DC converter supplies power to the isolated side.
is often applied to low-cost isolation amplifiers where
the coupling capacitor is composed of aFigure
between two isolated IC substrate sections. Signal
capacitively coupled device isolates the analog signal
isolation using these specialized ICs is rated as high as
while two optical couplers transmit the digital control
1500V. The main benefits of this approach are simplicity,
signals to the floating circuitry.
low cost, and bandwidths as high as 50 kHz. Figure 10.10
illustrates a DC/DC converter often used as the modulator/ Fundamental Application Mistakes
demodulator in an isolation amplifier.
Dangers in measurement can easily surface when a non-
isolated analog input to a data acquisition system is erroneously connected to a device operating at high commonmode voltage with respect to earth ground. The mistake,
which often precedes this problem, is determining the
voltage range of the desired signal with a handheld digital
Figure 10.11 illustrates a typical multiple-channel,
programmable isolation amplifier in a data acquisition
system that uses all three types of isolation: transformers,
optical devices, and capacitors. A transformer-based
DC/DC converter supplies power to the isolated side. A
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fault resulting from this arrangement effectively shorts
out the supply line and can be a hazard to operators
and destroy the equipment.
Isolation in Motor Drives
Isolation transformer
AC voltage
supply lines
Power switching circuit using
SCR’s or MOSFET transistors
Internal drive control common
An isolation transformer lets a user safely connect a data
acquisition system input channel, grounded through the
host computer, to a low voltage signal in an ac-powered
device. The preferred isolation transformer for such use
has a grounded electrostatic shield between the primary
and secondary windings to minimize capacitive coupling
and potentials with respect to earth ground. This
approach works only when the AC neutral in the electrical system is grounded to earth. Isolation transformers
cannot interrupt the path for the safety ground carried
by the ground prong of a standard 3-wire cord.
Speed adjustment potentiometer
Computer Digital
Analog Analog
common common common common
Low impedance
Current sense
A laptop computer running on an internal battery and
not connected to other peripherals that are tied to earth
ground (such as printers) can be a floating host safely
connected to a data acquisition system. But a better
overall approach is to isolate the input signal source.
Fig. 10.12. Common-mode voltage is defined as the voltage
between a signal and the localized common, which is usually
earth ground. Common-mode voltages can be quite high, depending on the signal source. For example, a current sensing shunt in
a DC motor drive might be expected to be at line-voltage potential, although the actual signal level is less than 50 mV across
the shunt terminals. Measurement techniques for small signals
at high common mode potentials call for isolation.
An isolation transformer usually doesn’t supply all the
isolation intended for a data acquisition system, because
the digital common in most computers provides a low
impedance path to earth ground as part of its ESD (electrostatic discharge) protection scheme. But some data
acquisition devices that communicate with the host
computer through serial data links such as RS232 and
RS485 use communication isolators specifically designed
for that protocol. By comparison, most Ethernet interfaces
are transformer isolated and have ESD protection networks
on both sides of the isolation barrier referenced to chassis,
plus earth ground through the host computer.
or analog multimeter, and neglecting the relationship of
the signal with respect to earth ground. If connected with
the dotted lines, as shown in Figure 10.12, the motor drive
can be damaged as soon as power is applied. This is because
the control circuitry in many AC and DC motor drives is
necessarily referenced to high voltage with respect to earth
ground. When motor current is sensed with a shunt or lowvalue resistor, the control common bus is generally at high
common-mode potential with respect to earth ground.
Analog Isolators
The ideal solution for measuring high common-mode
signals is the analog isolator. The isolator safely measures
low-level analog input signals containing as much as
1500V common mode, through magnetic, optical, or
capacitive devices. The amplifiers provide both channelto-system isolation and channel-to-channel isolation.
By contrast, most solid-state multiplexers have no
channel-to-channel isolation beyond the standard ±10V
signal range.
Some drives use non-contacting current sensors, transformers, and optical couplers to achieve galvanic isolation of the control circuitry. However, unless the drive is
specifically known to have an isolated analog interface,
assume it does not.
Isolation Transformers
Not all AC line-powered devices contain the internal
isolation transformers that step the voltage down to
lower operating levels needed for electronic circuits and
simultaneously protect users from external ground
faults. The power supply common bus in transformerless devices often connects to one side of the AC line
cord. If the system is not protected from reversing the
line cord connector in the socket, the device common
line (and hence the enclosure) can be raised to a voltage
level which is higher than the common terminal of
other devices in the vicinity or other instruments
connected to the data acquisition system. The ground
The most common analog isolators are plug-in modules.
These 3-port devices require a DC power supply and
provide operating voltages for signal conditioning and
modulation circuitry on the input side. They also provide
voltage for demodulation and signal reconstruction
circuits on the output side. Most devices also provide
inherent low-pass filtering and scaling to 0 to 5V output
levels. The wide array of available options in these
modules can simplify many complex measurement
requirements and still provide data to the overall data
acquisition system of choice, as all data acquisition
manufacturers have products that accept these modules.
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Single-Pole RC Filter
Noise Reduction: Signal Averaging
F-3dB =
Time [seconds]
Raw Signal
Fig. 10.14. Passive single pole filters are moderately effective
in passing a band of frequencies that contain the measured
signal, while attenuating other frequencies containing noise.
Averaged 16 values
Fig. 10.13. Signal-averaging using software techniques virtually reduce the effective electrical noise pick up before the data
acquisition system processes the measured signal.
Signal Averaging
Figure 10.14 (7.04) Some noise reduction techniques prevent the noise from
entering the system initially, and others remove extraneous noise from the signal. Another technique averages
several signal samples through software. Depending on
the nature of the noise and the specific averaging
method, noise can be reduced by the square root of the
number of averaged samples (RMS). But this may require
abundant samples to obtain an acceptable measurement.
Figure 10.13 shows the voltage across the shorted
channel when only 16 samples of data are averaged.
The isolation modules are relatively expensive and are
not likely to be used in low-cost data acquisition systems.
Low-cost systems typically don’t contain analog isolators, but many applications require isolators in at least a
few channels. System-wise, the best place to address a
high common-mode signal channel is at the source for
safety and signal integrity.
Wireless Techniques
Although averaging is an effective technique, it has
several drawbacks. The noise present in a measurement
sequence decreases as the square root of the number of
measurements. Therefore, in the above example, reducing
the RMS noise to a single count by averaging alone
would require 3,500 samples. As such, averaging suits
only low-speed applications, and it eliminates only
random noise. It does not necessarily eliminate many
other types of annoying system noise, such as periodic
noise from switching power supplies.
Not all data acquisition systems can connect to sensors
on the test specimen with wires. They require a form of
radio communication called telemetry. Radio transmitters and sensors are located on the device under test
and receivers are located at the data acquisition system.
For example, the rotating member of a large motor or
generator can be monitored remotely and safely. The
system can monitor temperature, vibration, deflection,
and speed in rpm without the type of slip rings used in
the past.
Analog Filtering
A relatively new protocol called Bluetooth is increasingly
being used for remote measurement and control. It is a
short-range wireless system that lets devices recognize,
connect, and transfer data among them. The devices are
equipped with special Bluetooth chips and transmit over
a short range, typically 10 m. They can transfer data at a
rate of 720 KB/sec over a frequency band of 2.40 to
2.48 GHz. Another system is the 802.11 Ethernet-based
wireless system. It often provides physical and electrical
isolation on the factory floor and for high voltage utility
lines and demolition test sites. It operates in the same
frequency range as Bluetooth and can handle higher data
transfer rates of 1 to 11 MB/sec.
A filter is an analog circuit element that selectively attenuates a particular band of frequencies in an incoming
signal. Filter circuits can be passive or active. Depending
on whether the filter is low or high-pass, it determines
the frequencies that are attenuated above or below the
cutoff frequency. For example, as a signal frequency
increases beyond the cutoff point of a single-pole, lowpass filter, its attenuation increases slowly. Multiple-pole
filter attenuation also increases slowly. Multiple-pole
filters provide greater attenuation beyond the cutoff
frequency, but they may introduce phase shifts that
could affect some applications. The frequency where the
signal is 3 dB down is given by the equation shown in
Figure 10.14.
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Comparing Single-Pole and
Three-Pole Filters
Differential-Input Amplifiers
Amplitude in dBV
Frequency in kHz
Fig. 10.15. The three-pole filter attenuates the
after the cutoff point more effectively than does the singlepole filter.
Time [seconds]
Raw data
Time [seconds]
The three-pole filter has a much greater attenuation for
frequencies exceeding the cutoff. The improvement in
signal quality provided by low-pass filtering is demonstrated in Figure 10.16 in which a signal containing wideband noise passes through a three-pole filter with a 1 kHz
cutoff frequency. The deviation from the average signal is
plotted in volts. The maximum deviation is 6 counts, and
the RMS noise is 2.1 counts.
Noise Reduction: Low-Pass Filter
Fig. 10.17. The biggest improvement in reducing unwanted
noise signals from the measured variable comes from differential-input amplifiers. It works so well because most of the noise
on the high side duplicates the noise on the low side of the
input and the algebraic sum of the two equal parts.
The three-pole filter shown in the example has an active
input with changeable configurations. The active, threepole filter can be a Butterworth, Bessel, or Chebyshev
with corner frequencies up to 50 Hz. Filter properties
depend on the values of the resistors and capacitors,
which the user can change. Filters also use switchedcapacitors. This type requires a clock signal to set the
cutoff frequency. The primary advantage of this filter is
the ease of programming the cutoff frequency.
Filtered output
Differential Voltage Measurement
Fig. 10.16. An active, three-pole low-pass filter, configured as
a Butterworth, Bessel, or Chebyshev filter, reduces the noise
signal more effectively without significant attenuation than
does a passive circuit.
Differential input amplifiers are most often used in data
acquisition systems because they provide a high gain for
the algebraic difference between their two input signals or
voltages, but a low gain for the voltages common to both
inputs. Making differential voltage measurements is
another means of reducing noise in analog input signals.
This technique is effective because often, most noise on
the high-side input lead closely approximates the noise on
the low lead. This is called common-mode noise. Measuring
the voltage difference between the two leads eliminates
this common-mode noise.
Passive vs. Active Filters
0.16 (7.06)
A passive filter is a circuit or device consisting entirely of
non-amplifying components, typically inductors and
capacitors, which pass one frequency band while rejecting
others. An active filter, on the other hand, is a circuit or
device composed of amplifying components such as
operational amplifiers, and suitable tuning elements, typically resistors and capacitors, which pass one frequency
band while rejecting others. Figure 10.15 compares the
amplitude of a single-pole, low-pass filter with a threepole filter. Both types are set for a 1 kHz cutoff frequency.
The improvement gained with differential voltage
measurements is illustrated in Figure 10.17. It shows the
same signal as Figure 10.05, but using a differential input
rather than a single-ended input.
Measurement Computing • 10 Commerce Way • Norton, MA 02766 • (508) 946-5100 • [email protected] •
Data Acquisition Solutions
Mixed Signal Measurements
6000 Series
DaqBook/2000 Series
• Measure strain, temperature, or voltage
• Measure temperature, strain, pressure, and more
• 12 channels
• 8 to 256 channels
• Up to 24-bit resolution
• 200 kHz A/D
• Up to 100 kS/s sampling per channel
• Ethernet interface
• 8 digital I/O
• Digital I/O and Analog Output
• Out-of-the-Box software and drivers
• Encore software included with each module
voltage, temperature, and bridge-based
input modules
High-speed BNC multifunction
• 4 universal analog inputs
• 2 or 4 analog inputs, 16-bit resolution
• Directly measure voltage, resistance, temperature,
current, or bridge-based sensors
• 1.33 MS/s or 2 MS/s simultaneous sampling
USB-1602 and USB-1604 Series
USB-2404 Series
• Up to 2 analog outputs
• 24-bit resolution
• 32 digital I/O, counter/timer
• Simultaneous sampling
• Included software and drivers
• Up to 50 kS/s sampling
• Included software and drivers
Measurement Computing • 10 Commerce Way • Norton, MA 02766 • (508) 946-5100 • [email protected] •
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