The full-scale range of the ADS124S0x is defined by the reference voltage and the PGA gain
(FSR = ±VREF / Gain). An external reference can be used instead of the integrated 2.5-V reference to adapt the FSR to the specific system needs. An external reference must be used if VIN > 2.5 V. For example, an external
5-V reference and an AVDD = 5 V are required in order to measure a single-ended signal that can swing between 0 V and 5 V.
The reference inputs of the device also allow the implementation of ratiometric measurements. In a ratiometric measurement, the same excitation source that is used to excite the sensor is also used to establish the reference for the ADC. As an example, a simple form of a ratiometric measurement uses the same current source to excite both the resistive sensor element (such as an RTD) and another resistive reference element that is in series with the element being measured. The voltage that develops across the reference element is used as the reference source for the ADC. Because current noise and drift are common to both the sensor measurement and the reference, these components cancel out in the ADC transfer function. The output code is only a ratio of the sensor element and the value of the reference resistor. The value of the excitation current source itself is not part of the ADC transfer function.
The example in the Typical Application section describes a system that uses a ratiometric measurement. One excitation current source is used to drive a reference resistor and an RTD. The ADC measurement represents a ratiometric measurement between the RTD value and a known reference resistor value.