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AnalogVotingCircuitIsMoreFlexibleThanItsDigitalVersion

R.Jayapal|ElectronicDesign
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Dec4,2003

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Majorityvotingsystemsareusedtoprotectcriticalplantsandprocesses.Suchsystemsfindapplicationsin
chemical,power,nuclear,andaerospaceindustries.Here,multiplesensorsmonitoracriticalparameter,
andthereadingsof,say,twosensors(whicharecloselytracking)aretakenascorrect.Butifonesensor
fails,thecriticalparameterisstillmonitored.
Figure1showsatypicalmajorityvotingsysteminwhichthreeidenticalinitiators(A,B,andC)give0or1
logicsignals,dependingonwhetheraprocessparametersuchastemperature,pressure,orlevelis
beloworabovethetripsetting.Theselogicsignalsarepassedtoatwooutofthreevotingcircuit.The
votingcircuitsendsatripsignaltothetripsystemonlyiftwoormoreinitiatorsareinatripcondition.
Thisvotingcircuitfollowstheexpression:
Y=AB+BC+CA
Toimprovereliability,fourinitiatorsareusedwiththetwooutofthreevotingcircuit,followingthe
expression:
Y=AB+BC+CD+DA+AC+BD
Similarly,forathreeoutoffourvotingcircuit,thefollowingexpressionapplies:
Y=ABC+BCD+CDA
Inatypicalhighpressure,hightemperatureliquidlevelmonitoringapplication,conductivityprobes
werekeptatvariouslevels.Eachprobecircuitgivesalogical1outputwhentheliquidlevelreachesthat
probe.Inviewofhowcriticalthismeasurementis,twooutofthreelogicfortrippingwasadopted.That
is,ifthenthprobeissetasatrippoint,(n1)and(n+1)probesarealsomonitored.Ifanytwoprobes
goHIGH,thevotingcircuitrygivesaHIGHoutputforfurtheraction,likeatrip,etc.
Forthesameapplication,someuserswantedtwooutoffourvotinglogic,andotherswantedthreeout
offivevotinglogic,etc.Withamicrocontrollerbasedcircuit,thismeanteitherrewritingtheprogram
eachtimeorwritingaprogramforvariouslogicsequencesandselectingtheonerequired.
Toeliminatethesedifficulties,ananalogcircuitwasdesignedthatsimplifiedtheselectionofthenumber
ofinitiatorsandthevotinglogic(Fig.2).ThefirstopampofU1isabufferforthevoltageadjustedbyP1.
PotentiometerP1isadjustedtoget1VatTP1.U1'ssecondopampisconfiguredasaninvertingsummer,
whileU1'sthirdopampisaninverter.
Everyprobeoutputgoingtological1closestheswitchcorrespondingtoitinU2.Closureofeachswitchin
U2givesa1VincreaseatTP2.Ifatwooutofthreevotingcircuitisneeded,selecttheappropriateprobes
throughtheDIPswitchsetting.Votingbytwoprobesgives2VatTP2.SetthereferencevoltageatTP3to
under2Vbutabove1V.OutputYwillbe1iftwoormoreprobesoutputalogic1.Similarly,iftwooutof
fourvotingisrequired,selectthefourprobeswiththeDIPswitchandsetthereferencevoltageatTP3as
1.5V.

Togeneralize,ifmisthenumberofprobesselected,andnoutofmvotingisnecessary,select
themprobeswiththeDIPswitchandkeepthereferencevoltageatTP3slightlylessthan(n1)V,but
morethan(n1)1V.WiththecircuitofFigure2,mhasamaximumofeight,andnm.Thiscircuit
canbeextendedforanyvotinglogic,whichcanbesetoralteredeveninthefield.