Skip to Main Content
This paper proposes the use of field programmable analog arrays (FPAAs) as adaptive conditioning blocks for ultrasonic sensors. The uncertainty achievable through this technique, in fact, results very sensitive to the measurement conditions, due to the attenuation affecting the echo during its propagation. Indeed, FPAAs emulate analog circuits whose characteristics have to be dynamically tuned according to different operating conditions. Actually, the signal provided by the ultrasonic sensor is properly processed in order to improve the overall measurement accuracy. In this paper, the prototype of a distance meter based on time-of-flight (TOF) measurement is presented in order to evidence the advantages gained by FPAA features in processing the sensor output to compensate echo attenuation and distortion versus target distance. The prototype working is supervised by a digital signal controller (DSC) whose tasks are: 1) driving the ultrasonic transducer; 2) performing the echo acquisition; 3) tuning on the fly the FPAA features; 4) evaluating the TOF; 5) measuring the target distance; and 6) delivering the final result to the end user. This paper is completed by the results achieved in a number of experimental tests allowing interesting considerations to be drawn. In particular, the experiments confirm the prototype reliability and effectiveness also with ultrasonic echoes characterized by very low signal-to-noise ratios.
Date of Publication: Aug. 2007