Wednesday, September 7, 2011
MAX 232 and RS-232
The MAX232 is an integrated circuit that converts signals from an RS-232 serial port to signals suitable for use in TTL compatible digital logic circuits. The MAX232 is a dual driver/receiver and typically converts the RX, TX, CTS and RTS signals. The drivers provide RS-232 voltage level outputs (approx. ± 7.5 V) from a single + 5 V supply via on-chip charge pumps and external capacitors. This makes it useful for implementing RS-232 in devices that otherwise do not need any voltages outside the 0 V to + 5 V range, as power supply design does not need to be made more complicated just for driving the RS-232 in this case. The receivers reduce RS-232 inputs (which may be as high as ± 25 V), to standard 5 V TTL levels. These receivers have a typical threshold of 1.3 V, and a typical hysteresis of 0.5 V. It is helpful to understand what occurs to the voltage levels. When a MAX232 IC receives a TTL level to convert, it changes a TTL Logic 0 to between +3 and +15 V, and changes TTL Logic 1 to between -3 to -15 V, and vice versa for converting from RS232 to TTL. This can be confusing when you realize that the RS232 Data Transmission voltages at a certain logic state are opposite from the RS232 Control Line voltages at the same logic state.
In telecommunications, RS-232 (Recommended Standard 232) is the traditional name for a series of standards for serial binary single-ended data and control signals connecting between a DTE (Data Terminal Equipment) and a DCE (Data Circuit-terminating Equipment). It is commonly used in computer serial ports. The standard defines the electrical characteristics and timing of signals, the meaning of signals, and the physical size and pinout of connectors. The current version of the standard is TIA-232-F Interface Between Data Terminal Equipment and Data Circuit-Terminating Equipment Employing Serial Binary Data Interchange, issued in 1997.
In RS-232, user data is sent as a time-series of bits. Both synchronous and asynchronous transmissions are supported by the standard. In addition to the data circuits, the standard defines a number of control circuits used to manage the connection between the DTE and DCE. Each data or control circuit only operates in one direction, that is, signaling from a DTE to the attached DCE or the reverse. Since transmit data and receive data are separate circuits, the interface can operate in a full duplex manner, supporting concurrent data flow in both directions. The standard does not define character framing within the data stream, or character encoding. The RS-232 standard defines the voltage levels that correspond to logical one and logical zero levels for the data transmission and the control signal lines. Valid signals are plus or minus 3 to 15 volts; the ±3 V range near zero volts is not a valid RS-232 level. The standard specifies a maximum open-circuit voltage of 25 volts: signal levels of ±5 V, ±10 V, ±12 V, and ±15 V are all commonly seen depending on the power supplies available within a device. RS-232 drivers and receivers must be able to withstand indefinite short circuit to ground or to any voltage level up to ±25 volts.
The slew rate, or how fast the signal changes between levels, is also controlled. For data transmission lines (TxD, RxD and their secondary channel equivalents) logic one is defined as a negative voltage, the signal condition is called marking, and has the functional significance. Logic zero is positive and the signal condition is termed spacing. Control signals are logically inverted with respect to what one sees on the data transmission lines. When one of these signals is active, the voltage on the line will be between +3 to +15 volts. The inactive state for these signals is the opposite voltage condition, between −3 and −15 volts. Because both ends of the RS-232 circuit depend on the ground pin being zero volts, problems will occur when connecting machinery and computers where the voltage between the ground pin on one end, and the ground pin on the other is not zero. This may also cause a hazardous ground loop. Use of a common ground limits RS-232 to applications with relatively short cables. If the two devices are far enough apart or on separate power systems, the local ground connections at either end of the cable will have differing voltages; this difference will reduce the noise margin of the signals. Unused interface signals terminated to ground will have an undefined logic state. Where it is necessary to permanently set a control signal to a defined state, it must be connected to a voltage source that asserts the logic 1 or logic 0 level. Some devices provide test voltages on their interface connectors for this purpose.