What is signal conditioning?
A signal conditioner, sometimes called a controller, is a device that converts one type of signal into another type of signal. Electronic signal conditioners translate analogue or digital signals from measuring instruments into information. They process and integrate data into information that can be easily read by an indicating instrument or control system.
Signal conditioners perform a variety of different tasks ranging from simple displays to intelligent units with the ability to control pumps, valves, or motors. These devices are designed to isolate, convert, and amplify communication signals. You can even find signal conditioners that process sensor data from multiple instruments and send the data via wireless transmission, Ethernet, or other communications protocols to the cloud. Most of today’s signal conditioners and controllers do a combination of these functions.
- Signal conditioners receive an electrical signal input from a sensor or gauge. The signal is then translated into an output as useful information for the operator.
- Electrical isolation is used for galvanic separation of intrinsically safe applications and signal transmission of Ex-approved 4…20 mA sensors in hazardous areas. These isolation barriers prevent sparking and arcing by limiting current. An intrinsically safe barrier will shut down if too much current is present.
- The most common type of conversion is an analog-to -digital converter. These take a 4…20 mA sensor signal input and turn it into a digital output for an indicating instrument or control system.
- Signal amplification increases the overall magnitude of the signal. This increases the resolution of an input signal, and it increases its signal-to-noise ratio.