Yesterday, while I was in the circuits lab, I checked the calibration of the voltage references on the KL25Z boards and the 4 Arduino boards I had with me.
What I did was to measure the power-supply voltage on the board with a good multimeter and make several of the PteroDAQ self-calibrations of the reference voltage (v0.2b1 does a new calibration every time the “pause” button is pressed).
For the KL25Z board, the voltage regulator on the board was well calibrated—I got a reading of 3.3001V with the bench multimeter. The 33 PteroDAQ calibrations I recorded gave an average reading of 3.3095V with a standard deviation of 400.6µV. That means that the PteroDAQ reported voltages will be about 0.28±0.01% too high (much better than the ±3% specification for the bandgap voltage reference on the chip). This is probably better than any of the cheap meters I have at home.
For the Arduino boards, the reference is normally the USB 5V power supply, which was not stable enough to do these comparisons with—I couldn’t get a constant reading on the good voltmeters but saw fluctuations of almost 10mV. I should have had a 9V wall-wart power supply with me, so that I could get a more stable voltage source from the on-board regulators, but lacking that, I used a bench power supply directly connected to the +5V and Gnd pins of the Arduino to force specific voltages around 5V and did the same comparisons as for the KL25Z board.
The greater fluctuation for the Arduino boards is probably due to the lower resolution of the ADC—the 10-bit ADC should have a reading around 225 at 1.1V with a 5V reference, so ±0.15% is only ±1/3 LSB. The ATMega chips are guaranteed to have ±10% accuracy on the bandgap reference, but that is over the full temperature range, so ±2% seems about right for room temperature.
The USB power-supply is not a constant voltage, and the fluctuation in the USB power-supply voltage (which can be as much as ±10%) is a problem when using the Arduino boards, so powering them off of a wall wart is a good idea when trying to measure signals accurately.
The voltage measurements are as good as with super-cheap handheld voltmeters (which generally have a specification of about ±1%), so the PteroDAQ system is good enough for first electronics courses and hobbyist labs.
Filed under: Circuits course, Data acquisition Tagged: Arduino, Bandgap voltage reference, data acquisition, KL25Z, PteroDAQ