A bit of Noise Optimization

A project log for 22-bit Capacitance to Digital Converter

A new capacitance displacement sensor interface for my seismometer with improved performance and low cost.

Bud BennettBud Bennett 07/06/2019 at 14:430 Comments

The MCP6V81 zero-drift opamps arrived yesterday, along with a few small ceramic capacitors with ±0.25pF tolerances. I quickly replaced the OPA376 opamps for these in the input integrators (U6 & U7). I also changed C1 & C2, in the AC amps, from 20pF to 5pF. The GS8591 opamps in the output integrator were left in the circuit, as well as some other small noise contributors that I did not believe matter much at this point.

I had to wrap the board with copper foil and 1/2" of foam to improve interference and temperature effects.

Then I left it to collect data overnight at 2 sps with an active ringserver. I can now process the resulting data with ObsPy via the ringserver. Here's 1 hour of data with a 2-pole bandpass filter 0.025Hz - 0.5Hz:

There is a noticeable and significant improvement over the circuit using the OPA376. I ran this data through a spreadsheet, which came up with a standard deviation of 2.0769bits. That sounds pretty good, but when you account for peak-peak variation the resulting dynamic range is "only" 20.02 bits of noise-free resolution (SNR = 136.2dB or 22.6 bits). But if you consider the 16 bit NFDNR of the AD7745, this circuit is 16X better.

Going Forward - Next Steps:

  1. Connect the current board to the seismometer and evaluate performance.
  2. If it shows promise with the real capacitance sensor, then construct another board with all of the noise optimization and evaluate it.
  3. Try to find out what is causing the poor temperature drift.

I'm glad that I did not mess with the seismometer yesterday. It recorded its biggest-ever response to the 7.1 magnitude quake in California yesterday -- ±400,000 counts (that's nearly 0.25mm, 5% of the total dynamic range of the sensor).