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Troubleshooting grounding issues when switching audio


Mar 28, 2022
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Grounding electrical systems is an often overlooked but important design consideration. Proper grounding issues can be complicated, confusing, and downright frustrating to solve. So much so that engineers can spend their entire careers specializing in grounding and bonding. [Bsilvereagle] ran into these kinds of frustrating issues while trying to send audio from a Nintendo Switch to a PC, documenting some of the ways he tried to fix a common problem known as a ground loop.

Ground loops occur when there are multiple paths to ground, especially in wires carrying signals. The low impedance path causes oscillations and ringing, which is especially problematic for audio. When sending the Switch audio to a computer, a loop like this formed. [Bsilvereagle] to solve the problem using an isolation transformer. It took a few revisions, but in the end they came up with a track that vastly improved the sound quality. With that out of the way, the task of mixing the Switch audio with sources from other devices was finally able to go ahead unhindered.

As an investigation into a nuisance problem, this project goes quite deeply into ground loops and the transfer of signals across various transforming devices. It’s a great read if you’ve ever encountered a mysterious noise in a project. If you’ve never heard of a ground loop, check out this guide we published a few years ago.

This post Troubleshooting grounding issues when switching audio

was original published at “https://hackaday.com/2022/03/27/solving-grounding-issues-on-switch-audio/”

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