Oscilent Corporation - Technical References
Introduction to Quartz Frequency Standards

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Introduction to Quartz Frequency Standards - Oscillator Circuit Types

Of the numerous oscillator circuit types, three of the more commonly discussed ones, the Pierce, the Colpitts, and the Clapp, consist of the same circuit except that the rf ground points are at different locations, as shown in Figure 13. The Butler and modified Butler are also similar to each other; in each, the emitter current is the crystal current. The gate oscillator is a Pierce-type that uses a logic gate plus a resistor in place of the transistor in the Pierce oscillator. (Some gate oscillators use more than one gate.)

Figure 13
Figure 13. Oscillator circuit types.

Information on designing crystal oscillators can be found in references 1, 2, 5, and 7. The choice of oscillator circuit type depends on factors such as the desired frequency stability, input voltage and power, output power and waveform, tunability, design complexity, cost, and the crystal unit's characteristics.

In the Pierce family, the ground point location has a profound effect on the performance. The Pierce configuration is generally superior to the others, e.g., with respect to the effects of stray reactances and biasing resistors, which appear mostly across the capacitors in the circuit rather than the crystal unit. It is one of the most widely used circuits for high stability oscillators. In the Colpitts configuration, a larger part of the strays appears across the crystal, and the biasing resistors are also across the crystal, which can degrade performance. The Clapp is seldom used because, since the collector is tied directly to the crystal, it is difficult to apply a dc voltage to the collector without introducing losses or spurious oscillations. The Pierce family usually operates at ''parallel resonance" (see Figure 4), although it can be designed to operate at series resonance by connecting an inductor in series with the crystal. The Butler family usually operates at (or near) series resonance. The Pierce can be designed to operate with the crystal current above or below the emitter current. Gate oscillators are common in digital systems when high stability is not a major consideration. (See the references for more details on oscillator circuits.)

Most users require a sine wave, or a TTL-compatible, or a CMOS-compatible, or an ECL-compatible output. The latter three can be simply generated from a sine wave. The four output types are illustrated in Figure 14, with the dashed lines representing the supply voltage inputs, and the bold solid lines, the outputs. (There is no "standard" input voltage for sine wave oscillators, and the input voltage for CMOS typically ranges from 5V to 15V.)

Figure 14
Figure 14. Oscillator outputs.