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Old 20th May 2012, 05:50 PM   #1
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Join Date: May 2012
Default building a DAC chip from scratch

Hi,
I was looking over how the DAC chips operate and a thought struck me that I could do the same with a PIC (Microchip PIC32 series, as it has enough pins and horsepower), and may be get better results than the DACs on the market, as I could calibrate the resistor ladder, what you can't do in a DAC chip, up sample the signal while it's digital, and who knows what over stuff that can be programmed in (or waste a lot of time and end with nothing).
Does any one know of other attempts to creating a DAC with simple programmable chips, or can show me where my logic is flowed (so I can forget about this idea and move on with my life)?
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Old 20th May 2012, 07:28 PM   #2
yrrapt is offline yrrapt  Scotland
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Join Date: Mar 2010
Location: Glasgow
I'm currently developing a delta-sigma DAC on an FPGA. There are quite a few people who have done this before, google will pull up some papers.

I don't know what topology of DAC you are considering having a go at but I would definitely say you would have more luck using an FPGA rather than a microcontroller. Things like interpolation filters become much easier with the parallel nature of FPGA's. Plus the use of tools like Xilinx's FIR compiler make implementation much easier, just stick in your filter coeffecients from Matlab or wherever else and it creates an optimized filter using dedicated multipliers or DSP slices if your device has them.

I would recommend you have a go at the project, it's a fun one, you learn a lot and will hopefully be very rewarding when it all works. The papilio one is a great inexpensive FPGA dev board that will get you started if you go down the FPGA route.

Tom
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