BALANCED DIFFERENTIAL DRIVERS
The RS422 (differential) was
designed for greater distances and higher Baud rates than RS232. Data rates of
up to 100K bits / second and distances up to 4000 Ft. can be accommodated with
RS422. RS422 is also specified for multi-drop (party-line) applications where
only one driver is connected to, and transmits on, a "bus" of up to 10
When communicating at high data
rates, or over long distances in real world environments, single-ended methods
are often inadequate. Differential data transmission (balanced differential
signal) offers superior performance in most applications. Differential signals
can help nullify the effects of ground shifts and induced noise signals that can
appear as common mode voltages on a network.
Line drivers and receivers are commonly used to
exchange data between two or more points (nodes) on a network. Reliable data
communications can be difficult in the presence of induced noise, ground level
differences, impedance mismatches, failure to effectively bias for idle line
conditions, and other hazards associated with installation of a network.
Standards have been developed to insure compatibility between units provided by
different manufacturers, and to allow for reasonable success in transferring
data over specified distances and/or data rates. The Electronics Industry
Association (EIA) has produced standards for RS485, RS422, RS232, and RS423 that
deal with data communications. Suggestions are often made to deal with practical
problems that might be encountered in a typical network. EIA standards where
previously marked with the prefix "RS" to indicate recommended standard;
however, the standards are now generally indicated as "EIA" standards to
identify the standards organization. While the standards bring uniformity to
data communications, many areas are not specifically covered and remain as "gray
areas" for the used to discover (usually during installation) on his own
The balanced voltage digital interface circuit will
normally be utilized on data, timing, or control circuits where the data
signaling rate is up to 10 Mbit/s. Balanced voltage digital interface devices
meeting the electrical characteristics of need not operate over the entire data
signaling rate range specified. They may be designed to operate over narrower
ranges to satisfy more economically specific applications, particularly at the
lower modulation rates.
RS422 (differential) was designed for greater distances and higher Baud rates
than RS232. In its simplest form, a pair of converters from RS232 to RS422 (and
back again) can be used to form an "RS232 extension cord." Data rates of up to
100K bits / second and distances up to 4000 Ft. can be accommodated with RS422.
RS422 is also specified for multi-drop (party-line) applications where only one
driver is connected to, and transmits on, a "bus" of up to 10 receivers.
While a multi-drop "type" application has many desirable advantages, RS422
devices cannot be used to construct a truly multi-point network. A true
multi-point network consists of multiple drivers and receivers connected on a
single bus, where any node can transmit or receive data.
"Quasi" multi-drop networks (4-wire) are often constructed using RS422 devices.
These networks are often used in a half-duplex mode, where a single master in a
system sends a command to one of several "slave" devices on a network. Typically
one device (node) is addressed by the host computer and a response is received
from that device. Systems of this type (4-wire, half-duplex) are often
constructed to avoid "data collision" (bus contention) problems on a multi-drop
network (more about solving this problem on a two-wire network in a moment).
Compatibility With Other Interfaces
Both RS-422 and RS-485 use a twisted-pair wire
(i.e. 2 wires) for each signal. They both use the same differential drive with
identical voltage swings: 0 to +5V. The main difference between RS-422 and
RS-485 is that while RS-422 is strictly for point-to-point communications (and
the driver is always enabled), RS-485 can be used for multidrop systems (and the
driver has a tri-state capability).
As stated in the scope of this Standard, generators and receivers meeting the
requirements of RS-422-A are compatible with those meeting CCITT Recommendations
V. 11 and X.27. The electrical characteristics of the balanced voltage digital
interface are designed to allow use of both balanced and unbalanced (see EIA
Standard RS-423-A) circuits within the same interconnection cable sheath. For
example, the balanced circuits may be used for data and timing while the
unbalanced circuits may be used for low speed control functions.
Since the basic differential receivers of RS-423-A and
RS422-A are electrically identical, it is possible to interconnect an equipment
using RS423-A receivers and generators on one side of the interface with an
equipment using RS422-A generators and receivers on the other side of the
interface, if the leads of the receivers and generators are properly configured
to accommodate such an arrangement and the cable is not terminated.
The balanced interface circuit is not intended for
interoperation with other interface electrical characteristics such as RS-232-C.
MIL-STD-188C and MIL-STD-188-100, and CCITT Recommendations V.28 and V.35. Under
certain conditions. interoperation with circuits of some of the above interfaces
may be possible but may require modification in the interface or within the
equipment; therefore, satisfactory operation is not assured. and additional
provisions not specified herein may be required.
|Mode of Operation
||SINGLE - ENDED
|Total Number of Drivers
and Receivers on One Line
|Maximum Cable Length
|Maximum Data Rate
|Maximum Driver Output
||-0.25V to +6V
|Driver Output Signal Level (Loaded
|Driver Output Signal Level (Unloaded
|Driver Load Impedance
|Max. Driver Current in High Z State
|Max. Driver Current in High Z State
|Slew Rate (Max.)
|Receiver Input Voltage
||-10V to +10V
Making sense of cable specifications
Selecting data cable for an RS-422 or RS-485 system isn't difficult,
but often gets lost in the shuffle of larger system issues. Care should be
taken. however, because intermittent problems caused by marginal cable can be
very difficult to troubleshoot.
Beyond the obvious traits such as number of conductors and wire gauge, cable
specifications include a handful of less intuitive terms.
Characteristic Impedance (Ohms): A value based on the inherent conductance,
resistance, capacitance and inductance of a cable that represents the impedance
of an infinitely long cable. When the cable is out to any length and terminated
with this Characteristic Impedance, measurements of the cable will be identical
to values obtained from the infinite length cable. That is to say that the
termination of the cable with this impedance gives the cable the appearance of
being infinite length, allowing no reflections of the transmitted signal. If
termination is required in a system, the termination impedance value should
match the Characteristic Impedance of the cable.
Shunt Capacitance (pF/ft): The amount of equivalent capacitive load of the
cable, typically listed in a per foot basis One of the factors limiting total
cable length is the capacitive load. Systems with long lengths benefits from
using low capacitance cable.
Propagation velocity (% of c): The speed at which an electrical signal travels
in the cable. The value given typically must be multiplied by the speed of light
(c) to obtain units of meters per second. For example, a cable that lists a
propagation velocity of 78% gives a velocity of 0.78 X 300 X 106 - 234 X 106
meters per second.
Plenum rated cable is fire resistant and less toxic when burning than
non-plenum rated cable. Check building and fire codes for requirements. Plenum
cable is generally more expensive due to the sheathing material used.
The RS-422 specification recommends 24AWG twisted pair cable with a shunt
capacitance of 16 pF per foot and 100 ohm characteristic impedance. While the
RS-485 specification does not specify cabling, these recommendations should be
used for RS485 systems as well.
It can be difficult to quantity whether shielding is required in a particular
system or not, until problems arise. We recommend erring on the safe side and
using shielded cable. Shielded cable is only slightly more expensive than
There are many cables available meeting the recommendations of RS-422
and RS-485, made specifically for that application. Another choice is the same
cable commonly used in the misted pair Ethernet cabling. This cable, commonly
referred to as Category 5 cable, is defined by the ElA/TIA/ANSI 568
specification The extremely high volume of Category 5 cable used makes it widely
available and very inexpensive, often less than half the price of specialty
RS422/485 cabling. The cable has a maximum capacitance of 17 pF/ft (14.5 pF
typical) and characteristic impedance of 100 ohms.
Category 5 cable is available as shielded twisted pair (STP) as well as
unshielded twisted pair (UTP) and generally exceeds the recommendations for
RS-422 making it an excellent choice for RS-422 and RS-485 systems.
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