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AnalogDevices:AnalogDialogue:ThePDAChallengeMetbytheAD7873ResistiveTouchScreenControllerADC

Volume35,Number4,AugustSeptember,2001
DownloadthisarticleinPDFformat.(97.5KB)

ThePDAChallengeMetbytheAD7873ResistiveTouchScreen
ControllerADC
byPaulKearney(paul.kearney@analog.com)
Today,handheldpersonaldigitalassistants(PDAs)arepoppingupjustabouteverywhere.
Theyarefindingfavor,notonlywithbusyexecutives,butalsowithmainstreamconsumers
andevenintheclassroom!Theireaseofuseandportabilityhavebeenkeystotheirrapidly
growingsuccess.ThemostpopularexamplesincludethePalmPilotseries,theHandspring
Visor,andtheSonyClie.Itisestimatedthatthisyearalonesome15millionPDAunitswill
besoldworldwide,withannualsalesexpectedtogrowto34millionunitsby2004.A
commonfeatureofallofthesePDAunitsistheirmethodofenteringdataviaastylusanda
resistivetouchscreen.Withittheusercaneasilyenterdatesinhis/herdiary,sendemail,
keepshorthandminutesofmeetings,etc.
Thetouchscreenitselfistypicallya4wire(XandY)resistiveelement.Therearealso5
wireresistivescreensandcapacitorscreensonthemarket,buttheyaretypicallymore
expensive.ThetouchscreeninterfaceswiththehostmicroprocessorviaanA/Dconverter
(ADC),suchastheAD7873andAD7843,whichhavespecialfeaturestailoredtothe
application.Thisarticlewilldiscussthecommonapplicationissuesfacedbydesignerswhen
interfacinganADCtoaresistivetouchscreen,andhowtheyaresolvedwiththeAD7873.
TheoryofOperationandDetailsoftheApplication
Thetouchscreenusuallyconsistsoftwolayersoftransparentresistivematerialusually
indiumtinoxide(ITO)orsomeotherformofresistivepolyestermaterial,withsilverinkfor
electrodes.Thetotalresistanceofeachlayervariesfromvendortovendor,buttypical
screensareinthe100to900ohmrange.Thetwolayersarestackedonaninsulatinglayerof
glass,separatedbytinyspacerdots.TheyareinterfacedelectricallytoacontrollerA/D
converter.Figures1and2show,insimplifiedform,howacontrollerADCmightinterface
witha4wireresistivescreen.

Figure1.Thetouchscreenusesamultilayersandwichofresistivefilmsandprotective
coatings.

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Figure2.Stylusinterfacingwithafourwireresistivetouchscreen.TheXcoordinate
measurementisdepicted.
Duringmeasurementofagivencoordinate,oneoftheresistiveplanesispoweredalongits
axisthroughswitchesonthecontrollerADCchip,andtheotherplaneisusedtosensethe
locationofthecoordinateonthepoweredplane.ForXcoordinatemeasurement,theXplane
ispowered.TheYplaneisusedtosensewherethepenislocatedonthepoweredplaneas
follows:Atthelocationwherethependepressesthetouchscreen,theplanesareshorted.The
voltage'pickedup'onthesensedplaneisproportionaltothelocationofthetouchonthe
poweredplane.Thisvoltageisthenconvertedusingthecontroller'sADC.
ForaYcoordinatemeasurement,powerisappliedtotheYplane,theXplaneisusedto
sensetheposition,andthevoltageisdigitized.ThedigitalcodecorrespondingtotheXandY
coordinatesisthenoperatedonbythehostmicroprocessor,andthecommand,information,
orinstructionintendedbythestyluslocationisregistered.
BasicAD7873touchscreeninterface
Figure3illustratesasimplifiedblockdiagramoftheAD7873.Inadditiontoservingasa
coordinatemeasurementtransducer,itprovidesanumberofperipheralfunctionsimportant
forthePDA'sfunction,includingmeasurementsoftemperatureandbatterycondition,touch
detection,andpressuremeasurementplusanonchip2.5Vvoltagereference.

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Figure3.AD7873blockdiagram.
Figure4illustratesatypicalapplicationdiagramfortheAD7873interfacingwitha4wire
resistivetouchscreen.Firstlet'sdiscussthebasicfunctionalitystyluscoordinate
measurement.ThesetoftouchscreenswitchesattheleftinFigure3drivetheresistive
screenviathesocalledtabletpins,X+,Y+,X,andY.Thetabletpinsalsoserveassensors
ofpositionvoltagefromthescreenwhennotactive,inapplyingthemethodofinterfacing
describedbrieflyabove.

Figure4.TypicalapplicationcircuitusingtheAD7873.
Anumberofthingswereconsideredintheimplementationofthedesign.First,theswitches
mustbeabletosourceandsinkcurrentto/fromthelowimpedancescreen.Say,forexample,
thesupplyis5Vandthescreenimpedanceis200ohms.ThepMOSswitchestothepositive
supply(ontheX+andY+pins)mustbeabletosource25mAwhenthescreenispowered
forcoordinatemeasurement.SimilarlythenMOSswitchestoground(theseareontheY
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andXpins)mustbecapableofsinkingthis25mA.Theswitches'drainandsource
connectionsmustbecarefullydesignedatthelayoutstagetoavoidelectromigration
problems(duetothelargecurrentdensityinthesenodes).Theconservativelydesigned
AD7873switchesarecapableofsupplyinga70ohmscreen,usinga5Vsupply.
Theonresistanceoftheswitches,about6ohms,alsoposedachallenge.Forexample,when
usedwithscreenimpedancesaslowas100ohmsandaminimumsupplyvoltageof2.7V,
thevoltagedropacrosstheswitchesisappreciableandgreatlyreducesthedynamicrangeof
signalsappliedtotheconverterinput.Toavoidacorrespondingreductionofconversion
accuracyandeffectiveresolution,andbecausetheONresistanceoftheswitchesmaynot
tracktheresistanceofthescreenovertemperatureandsupply,theconvertermustbeableto
operateinaratiometricmode.Figures5and6illustraterespectivelyhowtheAD7873can
beconfiguredinbothratiometricandsingleendedmodesofoperationforcoordinate
measurements.

Figure5.RatiometricoperationoftheADCisindependentofswitchonresistance
voltagedrop.

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Figure6.SingleendedoperationoftheADC.
Usingtheratiometricmode,theactualADCreferenceistakenfromthedrainnodesofthe
switchespoweringthescreen.Forexample,ifaYcoordinateisbeingmeasured,theYplane
ispoweredandtheREF+andREFoftheADCaretakenfromtheY+andYpins,
respectively.TheA/Dconversionwillberatiometrici.e.,theresultoftheconversionwillbe
equaltotheratiooftouchscreenresistanceatthemeasuringpointtothetotaltouchscreen
resistance,irrespectiveofthevoltagedropintheAD7873'sswitches.Thisisthebestwayof
ensuringtheaccuracyofcoordinatemeasurements.
Butthereisatradeoff:Inratiometricmode,thescreenmustremainpoweredduringthe
actualconversionprocess,inadditiontotheacquisitionphase,sincethescreenvoltageis
usedastheADCreference.Alternatively,duringasingleendedconversion,thescreenneed
onlybepoweredduringtheacquisitionoftheinputsignal.FortheAD7873thisrequires3
clockcycles,atworst20%oftheoverallconversiontime(assuminga15clocksper
conversionmodewhichisthedevice'sfastestvalidthroughputrate).However,used
ratiometrically,atthisfastestrate,thescreenwillbepermanentlypoweredwhilethedevice
ison.Ifthescreenresistanceis100ohmsanda5Vsupplyisused,thescreenwilldraw50
mAanobviousconsiderationinbatteryoperatedhandhelddevices.
Withthisdilemmainmind,theAD7873hasbeendesignedtoofferthedesignerachoiceof
fourpowerdownoptionstobettermanagetheoverallpowerconsumptionofthetouch
screencontroller,usingthedevice's2bitselectivepowerdown
optioncontrol.
Powerdownbitsetting
00.Fullpowerdownbetweenconversions.BoththeADCandtheinternalreference
arepowereddownbetweenconversions.Iftheratiometricmodeisselected,thetouch
screendriverswillbeturnedoffbetweenconversions(forcycleslongerthanthan15
clocks).
01.TheADCremainsonbetweenconversions,butthereferencepowersdown.(An
externalreferencemaybeused.)Thetouchscreenpowerisswitchedoffbetween
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conversions,asinmode00.
10.TheADCpowersdownbetweenconversions,whiletheinternalreferenceremains
on.Thisisuseful,asthereferencerequiresabout7stopowerup.Sowhendoing
singleendedmeasurements(suchasbatteryandtemperaturereadings)withthe
internalreference,thereisnoneedtoallowadelayforthereferencetopowerup.The
touchscreenpowerisswitchedoffbetweenconversions,asinmode00.
11.TheADCandinternalreferenceremainpoweredonbetweenconversions.Inthis
mode,theswitchdriverstothetouchscreenwillremainonuntiltheselectedinput
channelorpowerdownmodeischanged,oruntilCS(convertstart)isbroughthigh.
Whateveroptionisused,thedesignermustrealizethatthebulkofthepowerwillbe
dissipatedintheexternaltouchscreenwhenitispowered.TheAD7873itselfwilldissipate
onlyabout2.4mWwiththeinternalreferenceenabled,a2MHzdataclock,throughputof
125kSPSandwitha3.6Vsupplywhilea100ohmscreenisdissipating129.6mW!Sothe
converterdissipateslessthan2%ofthepowerdissipatedinthescreen.However,itshouldbe
notedthatinthefirst3ofthe4caseslistedabove,thescreendriveswitchescanbeturnedoff
betweenconversions.Thisfeatureisusefulforprovidingaconsiderablereductioninaverage
screenpoweriftheapplicationcanallowforareducedthroughputrate(withtheclock
frequencyheldat2MHz).
Thefirstthreepowerdownoptionsabovewillbeespeciallyhelpful.Forexample,using
thoseoptions,athroughputrateof20kSPSwouldreducethescreenpowertoanaverageof
20mWundertheconditionsdescribedabove.Forcharacterrecognitionfromthescreen,
throughputratesof20kSPSmaybeacceptablewithoutanydiscernablereductionin
performance.Ingeneral,however,aresponsespeedtradeoffshouldbeanticipated.The
screensthemselvesmayhavelargeparasiticcapacitanceassociatedwiththem10nFisnot
uncommon.ThismayresultinanonnegligibleRCtimeconstant,sothattimemustbe
allowedforsettlingbeforescreenmeasurementscanbetaken.Forthisreason,inmany
circumstances,poweringdownthescreensbetweenconversionsmightnotbesuchagood
ideaunlessstepsaretakentoaccountforthelargescreenRCtimeconstant(thiswillbe
discussedlater).
Resolutionoftheconverteritselfneedstobeinthe10to12bitrangefortypicalscreens.
TheAD7873provides12bitsofresolution.TheBgradeguarantees12bitnomissingcode
(NMC)performance,whilethelowercostAversionprovides11bitNMC.
Peripheralfunctionsbattery,temperature,andpressuremeasurement:TheAD7873
supportsanumberofimportantperipheralfunctionsvitaltothePDA:
AdedicatedbatterymonitoringADCchannelconsistsofanattenuatorcircuitthatdivides
downtheunregulatedbatterysupplyvoltageby4anddigitizesit.Asupplyofupto6volts
canbeappliedtotheVBATinputpin.Theaccuracyofthefunctionisimportantin
applicationsthatusebatterysupplieswithaveryshallowdischargeslopeandaverysharp
knee(e.g.,Liionbatteries),soit'simportantforthesystemtoknowwherethebatteryisin
itsdischargeprofileatanygiventime.Usually,themicroprocessorinstructsthebattery
channeltodigitizethebatteryvoltageeveryfewseconds.Shouldthebatteryenterthesharp
dischargepartofitscurve(Figure7),itcouldbedamagedandnotrecoverfromsucha'deep
discharge'event.Inpractice,typicalPDAswillflagaconditionwellbeforethekneeis
reachedandrespondappropriately.TheAD7873batterychannelwillgivetypicalaccuracy
performanceinthe0to1%rangewithworstcaseerrorof3%,usingtheinternalreference.
Wherebetteraccuracyisrequired,theusermayneedtocalibratethisreading,dependingon
thebattery'sdischargecharacteristic.

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Figure7.Typicalbatterydischargecurve.
Temperaturemeasurementisthesecondimportantperipheralfunctionperformedbythe
AD7873.TemperaturewithinthePDA'scaseisanespeciallyimportantparametertomonitor
indevicescontainingrechargeablebatteries.Typically,ifthetemperatureexceeds45C
duringcharging,themicroprocessorneedstobeflaggedandprovideanappropriateactionto
avoidpermanentdamagetothePDAduetooverheating.Figure8showstheschemeusedto
measuretemperature.

Figure8.Temperaturemeasurementblockdiagram.
TheAD7873providestwomodesoftemperaturemeasurement.Thefirst,thesingle
conversionmethod,performsasimpleconversionofthejunctionvoltageofadiode
connectedPNPtransistor,biasedwithaconstantcurrent.Thediodevoltagewillvarywith
temperaturebyabout2.1mV/C.Typicallythereadingwouldbefactorycalibratedat25C
duringmanufactureofthePDA.Thismethodwilltypicallyprovidearesolutionofabout
0.3Cwithanaccuracyof2C.
ToavoidcalibrationbythePDAmanufacturer,aseconddifferentialmethodisprovided
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ontheAD7873.Twoconversionsarerequired,Temp0andTemp1.Temp0isperformed
withalowvalueofdiodebiascurrent,I0,andTemp1isperformedwithabiascurrent,
I1=105I0.FromtheEbersMollequationandusingsomesimplemath,wecanshowthat:
EQUATION
where
k=Boltzmann'sconstant,1.380541023eV/K
q=Chargeontheelectron,1.6021891019C
T=Absolutetemperatureinkelvins
N=I1/I0,typically105,assuggestedfortheAD7873.
Hence
T(degreesC)=2490 Vbe273K
Because Vbeislimitedtoabout142mV,theresolutionofthedifferentialmethodis
significantlylessthenthatofthesingleconversionmethod.Typicalresolutionofabout
1.6Cisachieved.Theaccuracyofbothmethodsistypicallythesame,about2C.Figure9
plotsatypicalaccuracycomparisonforbothmethodsoverthetemperaturerange,0to70C.
Themainadvantageofthedifferentialtemperaturemethodisthatiteliminatestheneedfor
calibrationbythePDAmanufacturer.

Figure9.Comparativeerrorsofdifferentialandsingleconversiontemperature
measurement.
Pressure(ormorepreciselytouchresistance)canbecalculatedviaanumberofsimple
arithmeticmanipulationsusingtheAD7873.Onecandeterminewhetherthetouchresponse
isbeinggeneratedbythestylusorafingerorsomeotherobjectbymeasuringthecontact
resistancebetweentheXandYplates.Thisprovidesanindicationofthesizeofthe
depressedareaandtheappliedpressure.Theareaofthespottouchedisproportionaltothe
touchresistance.Twomethodscanbeused.Thefirstrequirestheusertoknowthetotal
resistanceoftheXplanemembrane.Thesecondmethodrequiresthatthetotalresistanceof
bothXandYmembranesbeknown.Equationsanddiagramscanbefoundonthedatasheet.
Wakingupwithatouchthepeninterruptfunction.
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Figure10illustratesthepeninterruptfunction,whichprovidesanactivelowopendrain
outputsignaltothehostmicroprocessor.Whenthepartispowereddowninamodewhere
thepeninterruptisenabled,atouchonthescreenwillcausethevoltageonthePENIRQpin
tobepulledtoground.InthismodetheYpinswitchdrivertogroundisturnedonduring
powerdownwhenthetwoscreenstouch,theX+pinispulledtogroundviatheYpin
thusinitiatinganinterrupt.Thetouchresistancethresholdistypically<30kohmsforthe
AD7873.Thislevelwillensurethatspuriousinterruptsdonotoccur(if,forexample,the
screenwereaccidentallybrushedagainstinauser'spocket).Themicroprocessorcanusethis
interrupttowakeuptheAD7873andstartcoordinatemeasurements.NormallythePENIRQ
pinvoltagewillidleatlogichigh.Anexternalpullupresistorintherange10to100kohms
isrequiredonthePENIRQpinforoptimumoperationofthefunction.Implementingthis
functionusinganopendrainoutputensuresthatboththerisingandfallingedgesofthe
PENIRQsignalaresharp,uninfluencedbythetouchscreencapacitance(whichcanbeas
largeas10nF)orthescreenresistanceitself.

Figure10.Peninterruptcircuit.
ApplicationIssueswheninterfacingtheAD7873toatouchscreen
We'vealreadymentionedthetradeoffbetweenpowerconsumptioninthescreenandthe
timerequiredforthescreentosettlebeforecoordinatereadingscanbetakenasa
consequenceofthelargeparasiticcapacitancebetweentheplates(about10nFinsome
cases).Additionalsourcesofpotentialerrorexist.Thescreensthemselvescanpickupalot
ofnoisefromtheLCDpanelandbacklightcircuitry.Thescreencanalsoactasanantenna,
pickingupnoisefromexternalEMI/RFIsources.Mechanicalbouncewhenthescreenis
touchedcarelesslyisalsoapotentialsourceoferror.Inmostcasesthedesignerwillseekto
minimizethisnoisebyinstallinglowpassfiltersonthetabletpinstoground.Capacitorsof
theorderof0.01Farecommon.(It'simportanttonotethatseriesresistanceisnot
recommendedforthesefilters,sinceitwouldlowertheresolutionoftheconverterbecauseof
theaddedvoltagedropacrosstheresistor).Becausethefiltercapacitance,parasiticscreen
capacitance,etc.,allacttoincreasetheRCtimeconstantofthescreen,itisnotadvisableto
makescreencoordinatemeasurementsinsingleendedmode.Theacquisitiontimeof3clock
cyclessimplymaynotbelongenoughtoallowthescreentosettlebeforetakingreadings.
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Forthisreason,theratiometricmodeismuchbetter.Inthatmode,thescreenremains
poweredforthefullconversioncycleand,byaveragingreadings,anaccurateresultcanbe
obtainedprovidedthatthedevicebepoweredupinamodewherethetouchscreenswitch
driversremainturnedon.
Onecanalsogetanaccurateresultwithouttheneedforaveragingbysimplydelayingthe
acquisitiontimeoftheconverterbyincludingadelaybetweeneitherthe6th,7thor8thbits
oftheDINword,asshowninFigure12.Theabovediscussiondemonstratestheneedforthe
designertotakeaccountofthetypeofscreenusedwiththeAD7873.Theconverterhas
enoughmodesofoperationandspeed(minimumDCLKfrequencyis10kHz)todoitsbasic
jobaccuratecoordinatemeasurementwiththemostdemandingofresistivetouchscreens
andenvironments.

Figure11.Delayduringacquisitiontoallownoisyscreensignaltosettle.
Anotherproblemdesignersmayconsiderisfailureduetohighenergyvoltagespikes
dischargedfromthescreentotheconverterviathetabletpins.DuringPDAmanufacture,the
screenisfloatingandcanbuildupconsiderablecharge.Thischargecouldeventually
dischargethroughthetabletpinsoftheconverterandpermanentlydamageit.Then,during
operationthescreenisexposedtotheoutsideworld,andESDeventscanoccurwhichcould
damagetheconverterviathetabletpinsrenderingtheentirePDAuseless.TheAD7873
includesasiliconcontrolledrectifier(SCR)basedprotectionschemeatthetabletpinsto
maketheseI/OsasrobustaspossibleagainstdamagefromESDevents.TheESDstructureis
capableof15kVprotectionanattractivefeatureforPDAmanufacturers,reducingriskof
failureinthefieldaswellasduringmanufactureitself.
Summary
TheAD7873facilitatescoordinatemeasurementfroma4wireresistivetouchscreen,
meetingwelltheparticularrequirementsofinterfacinganADCcontrollerchiptothetouch
screen.Besidesthebasiccoordinatemeasurement,theAD7873providesthedesignerwith
batterymonitoring,temperaturesensing,touchdetection,andpressuremeasurement
functions.We'vealsodiscussedissuesdesignerscanfacewhendesigningsuchsystems
includingpowerconsumedbythescreen,touchscreensettlingissuesandpotentialESD
damage.ThereadershouldnowhaveagoodinsightintohowthekeycircuitryofaPDA
works,andanappreciationforthecomplexnatureofthedesigner'staskandhowawell
designedintegratedcircuitchipcanmakeiteasier.

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