ADC Voltage Reference

The reference voltage for the ADC (VREF) indicates the conversion range for the ADC. Single ended channels that exceed VREF will result in codes close to 0x3FF. VREF can be selected as either AVCC, internal 2.56V reference, or external AREF pin.

AVCC is connected to the ADC through a passive switch. The internal 2.56V reference is generated from the internal bandgap reference (VBG) through an internal amplifier. In either case, the external AREF pin is directly connected to the ADC, and the reference voltage can be made more immune to noise by connecting a capacitor between the AREF pin and ground. VREF can also be measured at the AREF pin with a high impedance voltmeter. Note that VREF is a high impedance source, and only a capacitive load should be connected in a system.

If the user has a fixed voltage source connected to the AREF pin, the user may not use the other reference voltage options in the application, as they will be shorted to the external voltage. If no external voltage is applied to the AREF pin, the user may switch between AVCC and 2.56V as reference selection. The first ADC conversion result after switching reference voltage source may be inaccurate, and the user is advised to discard this result.