Op-Amp Challenge: Get More From A Single Wire With An Analogue Adder

It’s been a running battle in some quarters for years, whether analog sensor processing is better than digital. Proponents of digital are sometimes driven by lack of familiarity with analog circuitry, while analog die-hards point to delays and software crashes in microcontrollers. We’d probably toe the line that a mixture of the two skills is best, but [paul] has gone full-on for the analog side with his position and limit sensor for a remote telescope. The ‘scope had only one control wire carrying a digital signal, so how was he to get extra information down it? The solution was to overlay a DC voltage, and use a summing network composed of a series of op-amps to encode position and limit data as voltage.

In operation, the circuit is a straightforward DC summing amplifier of the type that op-amps were designed for and at which they excel. We’re not so sure it needs the high-precision resistors and the choice of op-amps seems the wrong way round with the AD8532’s high current output being better suited to driving the line than straightforward summing, but we can see it does the job. If you’re after a demonstration of a DC summing amplifier using an op-amp, here’s your project. Meanwhile if you’re curious about an op-amp inside the black box, take a look at one of the simplest integrated circuit op-amps ever made.