The Power of 2

In numerous types of analog position sensors, resolution is expressed in terms of bits, e.g, 8-bit, 12-bit, 16-bit, etc.  But what does that really mean?  In a previous entry, I discussed what I called Digitally Derived Analog Signals, which provides a basic overview of how Digital-to-Analog Converters (DAC’s) are used to generate analog sensor signals.  You may recall from that entry that when someone says a sensor has “16-bit resolution”, what they really mean is that the sensor employs a 16-bit DAC, which is capable of processing 216 discrete values, and representing any one of those values as a corresponding analog signal.

To help better understand what these binary numbers actually mean, I thought it might be helpful to provide a quick-reference chart showing the equivalent decimal values of numbers from 20 to 232.

(click to enlarge)The values in bold represent some of the more commonly used DAC’s for industrial sensors.

Scott Rosenberger has experience and knowledge of the industrial automation industry with Balluff. With his product and industry knowledge, he is sharing his passion for automation with Automation Insights.