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The LM3914 is a monolithic integrated circuit that senses analog voltage levels and drives 10 LEDs, providing a linear analog display. This ic is used for Dot and Bar Display.  A single pin changes the display from a moving dot to a bar graph. Current drive to the LEDs is regulated and programmable, eliminating the need for resistors. This feature is one that allows operation of the whole system from less than 3V.

12v-Battery-voltage-level-indicator-lm3914-4.gif

From datasheet – The linear scaling of the output thresholds makes the device usable, for example, as a voltmeter. In the basic configuration it provides a ten step scale which is expandable to over 100 segments with other LM3914 ICs in series.

The simplified LM3914 block diagram is to give the general idea of the circuit’s operation. A high input
impedance buffer operates with signals from ground to 12V, and is protected against reverse and overvoltage
signals. The signal is then applied to a series of 10 comparators; each of which is biased to a different
comparison level by the resistor string.

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