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Overview of Voltage Comparators

The objective of this article is to provide an overview of the history of Voltage


Comparators intended for the Gaming industry, hobbyist or student. Material will be
presented at the technician's level and will spend little time on engineering concerns.
Most of the popular devices mentioned may be found on the open market at minimal
prices. Practical applications will be demonstrated as circuits intended for you to build.
Devices will be presented in roughly chronological order so you can see the
development of the devices. Partial schematics to present specific features are included as
well as useful projects using the parts. Old doesn't mean useless. Often some of the
features of older devices are still desired.
It is assumed that the reader has a familiarity with electronics and schematics up
to Operational Amplifiers. If you have not been familiarized with Op Amps you may not
get all the intended value from this lesson, but your time will not be wasted here.

General description
Voltage Comparators (Differential Comparators) are a modification of the
Operational Amplifier. The objective is to compare two analog voltage levels and provide
a digital output depending on the relative voltage levels at the inputs. Like an Op Amp
we have two inputs; an Inverting Input marked with a negative sign (-) or a bubble, and a
Non-Inverting Input marked with a positive sign (+) or a straight line. If the Inverting
input is at a lower voltage than the Non-Inverting Input the output will be High. If not,
the output will be Low. Otherwise most of the characteristics mentioned in the lesson on
Operational Amplifiers applies.
Voltage Comparators are usually used to compare an incoming signal against a
reference voltage. The output indicates whether the signal is above or below the
reference. A typical example might be a "Low Battery Indicator". If the battery voltage is
below a certain level an LED is turned on indicating a Low Battery. We also use them to
monitor the output of a power supply to be within an acceptable margin of the ideal level.
In this case we would use two Voltage Comparators. One to check for an "Over Voltage"
condition, and one to check for an "Under Voltage" condition. Neither case being true
means the voltage is within specs.

Characteristics of Voltage Comparators


A Voltage Comparator has much the same structure and characteristics we found
in Op Amps. We have an Input stage, a Gain Stage, and an Output stage. The input
section has much the same characteristics as an Op Amp. We have Input Current, the
current that flows into or out of the Input pin, ideally zero. We have Input Offset Current
and Voltage that is the difference in current and voltage between the inputs with no signal
applied, ideally zero. We have Input Resistance, ideally infinite. We have Open Loop
Gain, which is the maximum gain the circuit will get with no feedback element, ideally
infinite but typically in the thousands. We have response time which is how soon the
output start changing after we change the input, ideally instantaneous, typically in the
microseconds or nanoseconds. This limits the Frequency Response of t6he device.
The design of the Output Stage is typically an Open Collector (or Open Drain in
CMOS devices), a Totem Pole design that drives to both rails, or (seldom) an Open
Emitter (Open Source in CMOS devices). How much current the device will Sink or
Source is another characteristic that makes one device different from another.
How large in Input signal we can respond to, compared to the Power Rail
Voltages, is another differing characteristic. In older devices the input voltage must be a
Volt or more below the power rails. In a circuit powered by plus and minus 15 Volts we
may only be able to respond to a signal in the range of plus or minus 12 Volts. In Newer
devices the Input may be within tens of millivolts, called Rail-to-Rail Input. Totem Pole
devices might also have these Rail-to-Rail characteristics.
CMRR (Common Mode rejection Ratio), NRR (Noise Rejection Ratio), and
PSRR (Power Supply Rejection Ratio) are also characteristics much the same as we
found in Op Amps. We won't repeat that description here. Reference the Op Amps
section for more elaborate discussion of these things, or other topics in this section. Since
the objective of this lesson is not to design circuits we won't go into it here. Our only
objective is to get you to understand what the designer had in mind when designing the
circuit and what you might have to consider in making a substitute for a given part.

Absolute Maximum ratings versus Typical values


Most data sheets will have a chart listing "Absolute Maximum" values. These are
the "worst case" conditions that should never be exceeded. "Typical" working conditions
are usually well below the maximum values. I wish I could say that I am so good a
designer that the maximum conditions are never exceeded. I am not suggesting you do
these things, but I have been known to exceed these limits on rare occasion.
Careful design can stretch these limitations into regions that void the guarantee of
the manufacturers. You can draw current from outputs that exceed the specs as long as
you understand the limitations. CMOS will often drive an LED, but don't expect it to
drive valid logic levels at the same time. Driving to voltages and currents that exceed the
power levels the output or device is rated to handle can be done if it is pulsed.
With the current shortage of Military rated devices manufacturers have often used
Industrial rated components but test the whole assembly to Military specs. The Gaming
industry doesn't worry too much about this. Most of our stuff is rated for Commercial
Grade devices with the exception of CRT monitors and switching power supplies where
high temperatures are expected. Casino Surveillance systems are usually low consumer
quality construction.

Military, Industrial and Commercial Grading


Many of the devices are made in different versions for Military (- 55° C to + 125°
C), Industrial (- 25° C to + 85° C) and Consumer (- 0° C to + 70° C) markets. It isn't that
the chip is designed any differently. The case may be different. Military devices are more
likely to be put in a metal or ceramic case. Primarily the difference is the devices are just
selected that meet higher specifications. When the devices are in the chip stage (before
they get put in a case) they are checked for Offset, Drive Current and other factors. Better
devices are selected to be Military or Industrial devices. Few of the Commercial grade
devices will measure up to the full specifications.
Usually a suffix added to the end of the basic part number specifies the Military,
Industrial or Commercial Grade as well as the case style. The Order Number might be
added to this part number also that specifies how the devices are supplied (loose, roll,
ammo-pack, or what ever), but this is not a part of the part number you would find on the
device.

Older devices
These are devices you might find in older assemblies. You may still find them on
the market, but don't expect them to have current date codes.

LM710 Powered from +12, -5 and ground. Output TTL. Active pullup. These
devices were in the generation of the Intel 8080 microprocessor that also ran off of +12
and -5 volts. We might find them in the Gaming world in games that use these voltages.
IGT's really old Keno games, for instance.

(drawing showing pinout)

LM711 Dual LM710 with a common output connected together.

(drawing showing a margin checker and pinout)

LM106 Military version of LM306.

LM206 Industrial version of LM306.

LM306 Pin and function compatible with the LM710 but designed too run from
+V up to 24 V and -V between -3 and -12 V. The output is intended to drive TTL and
drives to both rails. The LM306 has two AND'ed Logic level inputs as Strobes. Both
inputs must be High before the output is valid. A Low in at either of the Strobe inputs
forces the output to be High regardless if the condition at the Analog Inputs. If both
Strobes are High (or left floating) the output is controlled by the Analog Inputs. The
output is standard TTL Totem Pole, but can Sink 100 mA. Low.
(drawing showing pinout)

LM360
(drawing showing pinout)

LM361
(drawing showing pinout)

Popular devices
These are the most likely devices you will run into. You will likely find them on
the open market at the lowest prices. You are most likely to find then in assemblies
around five years old or newer.

LM111 Military version of LM311.

LM211 Industrial version of LM311.


LM311N (1) Powered from +V, -V and Ground pins. It can operate as a two-rail power
system or a single positive rail and ground. + and - 5 to 15 V, or + 5 to 30 V and ground.
The input voltage levels must within the range of +V and -V. The output is open
collector. The ground is only related to the output and may be used as a Low Enable
Strobe or a High Side Driver. Options for Offset Adjustment. The output is Open
Collector and interfaces well to CMOS or TTL. Capable of driving up to 50 mA.
(many drawings showing pinout)

(drawings showing output options)

LF111 Military version of LF311.

LF211 Industrial version of LF311.

LF311 A Bipolar FET input version of an LM311. Only the input section is FETs (P-
Junction FETs). Input resistance are a factor of 1,000 better than its bipolar brother
(LM311). Likewise Input currents are 1,000 times lower (50 pA versus 50 nA in the
LM311).

LM119 Military version of LM319.

LM219 Industrial version of LM319.

LM319N (1) A dual version of the LM311. No offset adjustment is allowed for. Both
outputs are available and the device may be used as two independent devices running
from the same power, or a Window Comparator. These are suggested where you want to
analyze input voltages between +12 V and -12 V, yet have the output be ground
referenced and desire an Open Collector output. 80 ns (12 MHz). 25 mA output current.
Runs nicely with up to + and - 18 Volts, but will also work well at +5 and ground. Vin
max is about 2 Volts below rail voltages. If you want to monitor a +12 V level you must
run the LM319 from + 15 V. Figure about 10 mA per IC on supply current. These are not
ideal for battery powered operation.

(drawing showing pinout)

(example of Window comparators)

LM193 Military version of LM393.

LM293 Industrial version of LM393.

LM393N (1) Dual Voltage Comparator. Capable of being powered from + V an - V ( 1


to 18 Volts), or a single +V (2 V to 36 V) and ground. The output is Open Collector and
always drives to the -V rail. Output current is guaranteed to drive 6 mA, but typical value
is listed as 16 mA.
(example of applications)

LM392 One Op Amp and one Voltage Comparator in an 8-pin package.


(drawing showing pinout)

LM139 Military version of LM339

LM239 Industrial version of LM339.

LM339N (1) Quad version of the LM393. Since it comes in a convenient four-to-a-
package the LM339 is usually used in applications such as Input Receivers to interface an
analog world to digital circuit circuits. The LM339 is close equivalent to the LM2901 and
MC3302 with very small changes in capability. They are interchangeable in most circuits.

(examples)

LM2901 (See LM339.)

LM2903 (See LM393.)

LM3302 (See LM339.)


(1)
Suggested buy list. These devices are used in our Training Program and Test
Fixture designs. Learning to work with them will prepare you to understand most of the
other newer devices. With a little shopping around these can be picked up for a good
price ($0.20 to $1.00). The "..N" suffix (or "...P") indicates a DIP package. These fit
nicely in a Breadboard. Surface mount packages are hard to work with and work the same
way in principle. If you desire to work in the surface mount world Jameco carries some
really cool "Surf Boards" that are prototyping boards for SMD devices. Excellent!
(www.jameco.com)

Newer devices
These are the devices you will find in newer assemblies. They are not quite State-
of-the-Art, but are newer than the others mentioned yet are available at an affordable
price, almost. One of the advantages of newer devices is resistance to a phenomena called
"Latch-up". When a pin of the chip is exposed to a high voltage the voltage on the pin
exceeds the voltage on the substrate of the chip and that pin latches to a High. The same
can happen to a pin when exposed to a high negative charge, getting latched down. This
is what happens when an ESD pulse his the device at a pin, or a voltage too high is
applied to a pin. Newer devices are more resistant to this damage, but not immune totally.

LMV331 CMOS Voltage Comparator, SOT23-5 (device marking "C12") or SC70-5


(device marking "C13") package, Low voltage operation (2.7 V to 5 V) at 100 µ A. < 1
MHz operation. Bipolar transistor technology. Open Collector output, 5 mA.
(drawing showing pinout)

TL331 Single Voltage Comparator, SOT23-5 package. 2 V to 36 V operation


single or dual power supply, 0.4 mA @ 5 V. Power rails must be about 1.5V above
Common Mode input voltage. Open Collector output, 6 mA. 700 KHz operation.
(drawing showing pinout)

LMV339 Quad LMV331. Low voltage operation (2.7 V to 5 V) at 200 µ A.

LP339 Quad Voltage Comparator, Low Power (60 µ A @ 5 V) LM339 but still a
bipolar transistor device. Single or dual power supply. I Out = 30 mA. 100 KHz.

TLC339

TLC352 Dual CMOS Voltage Comparator, pin compatible with LM393, ICC = 65
µ A @ 1.4 V, VCC = as low as 1.4 V. Open Drain output, 6 mA. Single or dual power
supply operation. 1 MHz operation.
(drawing showing pinout)

TLC354 Quad CMOS Voltage Comparator, pin compatible with LM339, ICC = 130
µ A @ 1.4 V, VCC = as low as 1.4 V. Open Drain output, 6 mA. Single or dual power
supply operation. 1 MHz operation.
(drawing showing pinout)

TLC372 Dual Voltage Comparator pin compatible with the LM393. The TLC
series of devices are CMOS devices. Anything you can do with the LM393 can be done
with the TLC372. The TLC372 just draws less supply current. The output capabilities are
the same as the LM393. 200 ns (5 MHz) operation. VDD = 3 to 16 V. V In max = VDD -
1.5 V. I Out = 16 mA.

TLC374 Quad version of the TLC372.

LMV393 Dual LMV331. Low voltage operation (2.7 V to 5 V) at 150 µ A.

TLC393 Dual CMOS Voltage Comparator. LM393 pinout. Works on +3 to +16 V


power drawing about 22 µ A. Open Drain output, 6 mA. Speed 2.5 µ s (400 KHz). For
the same device with Totem Pole outputs see the TLC3702.

LMV761 CMOS Voltage Comparator, SOT23-6 package (marking "C22A") or


SOIC-8. With "Shutdown" pin. Totem Pole output. IDD = 275 µ A @ 2.7 V VDD. 200
KHz (5 µ s). I Out = 6 mA.
(drawing showing pinout)

LMV762 Dual version of LMV761. 8-pin MSOP (marking "C23A"). IDD = 550 µ A
@ 2.7 V VDD.
TLV1391 Single Voltage Comparator. Bipolar transistor technology. Open Collector
Output, 600 µ A. VCC between 2 V and 8 V drawing 150 µ A at 5 Volts. Works well
single rail or two rail power. SOT23-5 case. Marking is "VABC" for Commercial grade
(TLV1391CDBV), or "VABI" for Industrial Grade (TLV1391IDBV). Speed around 1
µ s (1 MHz).
(drawing showing pinout)

TLV2352 Dual version of the TLV2354. See TLV2354 for specs.


(drawing showing pinout)

TLV2354 Quad CMOS Voltage Comparator. Works well on +2 to +8 Volt power at


ICC of 200 µ A. 5 MHz (200 ns).Open Drain output, 16 mA.
(drawing showing pinout)

TLV3011 Bipolar Transistor Voltage Comparator with 1.242 Volt Reference output.
CMOS Open Drain Output, 0.5 mA. SOT23-6 package (marking "ALR"), or SC70-6
(marking "AJX"). ICC = 5 µ A, VCC = as low as 1.8 V. 100 KHz operation.

TLV3012 TLV3011-like with Totem Pole output. SOT23-6 package (marking


"ALS"), or SC70-6 (marking "ALT").

TLV3401 CMOS Voltage Comparator, SOT23-5 or SOIC-8 case, ICC = 500 nA, VCC
= as low as 2.7 V. Open Drain output, 2 mA. < 10 KHz operation.
(drawing showing pinout)

TLV3402 Dual CMOS Voltage Comparator, 8-pin case, ICC = 1 µ A, VCC = as low as
2.7 V. Open Drain output, 2 mA. < 10 KHz operation. Dual TLV3401.
(drawing showing pinout)

TLV3404 Quad CMOS Voltage Comparator, 14-pin case, ICC = 2 µ A, VCC = as low
as 2.7 V. Open Drain output, 2 mA. < 10 KHz operation. Quad TLV3401
(drawing showing pinout)

TLV3491 Bipolar Transistor Voltage Comparator with CMOS Totem Pole Output, 5
mA. SOT23-5 package (marking "VBNI"). ICC = 0.8 µ A, VCC = as low as 1.8 V. 10 MHz
operation.

TLV3492 Dual version of the TLV3491. SOT23-8 package (Marking "VB01"), or


SOIC-8.

TLV3494 Quad version of the TLV3491. TSOP-14 or SOIC-14 case.

TLC3701 CMOS Voltage Comparator, SOT23-5 or SOIC-8 case, ICC = 560 nA, VCC
= as low as 2.7 V. Totem Pole output, 2 mA. < 10 KHz operation.
(drawing showing pinout)
TLC3702 Dual CMOS Voltage Comparator, 8-pin case, ICC = 1.1 µ A, VCC = as low
as 2.7 V. Totem Pole output, 2 mA. < 10 KHz operation. Dual TLC3701. Dual CMOS
Voltage Comparator. LM393 pinout. For the same device with Open Drain outputs see
the TLC393.
(drawing showing pinout)

TLC3704 Quad CMOS Voltage Comparator, 14-pin case, ICC = 2.2 µ A, VCC = as
low as 2.7 V. Totem Pole output, 2 mA. < 10 KHz operation. Quad TLC3701.
(drawing showing pinout)

LMC6762 Dual CMOS Voltage Comparator, Rail-to-Rail input. Totem Pole output, 5
mA. 8-pin DIP or SOIC. IDD = 20 µ A @ VDD of 2.7 V. 10 µ s (100 KHz).
(drawing showing pinout)

LMC6772 Dual CMOS Voltage Comparator, Rail-to-Rail input, Open Drain output,
5 mA. 8-pin DIP or SOIC. IDD = 20 µ A @ VDD of 2.7 V. 10 µ s (100 KHz).
(drawing showing pinout)

LMC7211A Bipolar Transistor Voltage Comparator, SOT23-5 package (marking


"C00A"), or SOIC-8. 7 ns (140 MHz). IDD = 12 mA @ VDD of 2.7 V. Totem Pole output,
2.5 mA. Rail-to-Rail Input. VOS = 5 mV.
(drawing showing pinout)

LMC7211B Bipolar Transistor Voltage Comparator, SOT23-5 package (marking


"C00B"), or SOIC-8. 7 ns (140 MHz). IDD = 12 mA @ VDD of 2.7 V. Totem Pole output,
2.5 mA. Rail-to-Rail Input. VOS = 15 mV.
(drawing showing pinout)

LMC7215 CMOS Voltage Comparator, SOT23-5 package (Marking "C02B"). Rail-


to-Rail Input. Totem Pole Output, 45 mA @ VDD = 5 V. IDD = 1 µ A @ VDD of 2 V. 45 ns
(2.2 MHz).
(drawing showing pinout)

LMV7219 Bipolar Transistor Voltage Comparator, SOT23-5 package (marking


"C14A"), or SWC70-5 (marking "C15"). 7 ns (140 MHz). IDD = 1.1 mA @ VDD of 2.7 V.
Totem pole output, 4 mA. Rail-to-Rail Input.
(drawing showing pinout)

LMC7221A Bipolar Transistor Voltage Comparator, SOT23-5 package (marking


"C01A"), or SOIC-8. 7 ns (140 MHz). IDD = 12 mA @ VDD of 2.7 V. Open Drain output,
2.5 mA. Rail-to-Rail Input. VOS = 5 mV.
(drawing showing pinout)
LMC7221B Bipolar Transistor Voltage Comparator, SOT23-5 package (marking
"C01B"), or SOIC-8. 7 ns (140 MHz). IDD = 12 mA @ VDD of 2.7 V. Open Drain output,
2.5 mA. Rail-to-Rail Input. VOS = 15 mV.
(drawing showing pinout)

LMC7225 CMOS Voltage Comparator, SOT23-5 package (Marking "C03B"). Rail-


to-Rail Input. Open Drain Output, 45 mA @ VDD = 5 V. IDD = 1 µ A @ VDD of 2 V. 45 ns
(2.2 MHz).
(drawing showing pinout)

LMV7235 Bipolar Transistor Voltage Comparator, SOT23-5 package (marking


"C21A"), or SC70-5 (marking "C21"). Rail-to-Rail Inputs. 45 ns. IDD = 85 µ A @ VDD of
2.7 V. Open Drain output, 4 mA.
(drawing showing pinout)

LMV7239 Bipolar Transistor Voltage Comparator, SOT23-5 package (marking


"C20A"), or SC70-5 (marking "C20"). Rail-to-Rail Inputs. 45 ns. IDD = 85 µ A @ VDD of
2.7 V. Open Drain output, 4 mA.
(drawing showing pinout)

LMV7251 CMOS Voltage Comparator, SC70-5 package (Marking "?"), or SOT23-5


package (Marking "?"). Totem Pole output. IDD = 11 µ A @ VDD of 1.8 V. 800 ns (1.2
MHz). I Out = 1mA. Rail-to-Rail Inputs.

LMV7255 CMOS Voltage Comparator, SC70-5 package (Marking "?"), or SOT23-5


package (Marking "?"). Open Drain output. IDD = 11 µ A @ VDD of 1.8 V. 800 ns (1.2
MHz). I Out = 1mA. Rail-to-Rail Inputs.

LMV7271 CMOS Voltage Comparator, SC70-5 package (Marking "C34"), or


SOT23-5 package (Marking "C25A"). Totem Pole output. IDD = 9 µ A @ VDD of 1.8 V.
800 ns (1.2 MHz). I Out = 1mA.

LMV7272 Dual LMV7271. 8-bump micro SMD package (Marking "I 01").

LMV7275 LMV7271 with Open Drain output, 1 mA. SC70-5 package (Marking
"C35"), or SOT23-5 package (Marking "C26A").

LMV7291 CMOS Voltage Comparator, SOT23-5 package. Totem Pole output. IDD =
9 µ A @ VDD of 1.8 V. 800 ns (1.2 MHz). I Out = 1mA.
(drawing showing pinout)

Similar devices

TL712 Differential Tri-State Output. TTL levels in and out. VCC = 5 V. 50 MHz. I Out =
16 mA, Totem Pole bipolar transistor output. More for Communications.
(drawing showing pinout)

TL714 Tri-State Output. TTL levels in and out. VCC = 5 V. 50 MHz. I Out = 16 mA,
Totem Pole bipolar transistor output. More for Communications.
(drawing showing pinout)

Applications

Input circuits

Output driver current monitors

Reset circuits

Voltage level detectors

Oscillators

Light level detector

Temperature detector

PWM example

Switch debouncer

Crystal oscillator

Peak Detector

Pulse generator

ORing gate

ANDing gate

Obtaining devices
Jameco Electronics (www.jameco.com)
Digi-Key Electronics (www.digikey.com)
Mouser Electronics (www.mouser.com)