A7-MX Now with Close-in Phase Noise personality Signal Stability Analyzer 50kHz to 65MHz Real Time Phase and Fractional Frequency Data View Time (Allan variance) and Frequency Domain (FFT) Analysis Data Storage Analogue Meter A7-MX Signal Stability Analyzer Absolute Frequency Flexible & Easy to Use Statistics: Max • Min • Mean • Standard Deviation Fractional Frequency Difference •B roadband 50kHz – 65MHz input with high resolution 5 or 10MHz input • Large digital display of phase / relative & absolute frequency • Block storage of data files enables offline analysis • RS232 & USB connect to PC • 32,768 data point storage • Crash proof with 24Vdc Battery Back Up • On screen Allan variance and phase noise plots in real time • Measurement error fully specified • Plot print and save functions Features Phase Difference fs • ps • ns • µs • ms • s • Industry Best Phase Stability & lowest drift • Very high resolution: <50fs single shot (5 and 10MHz) • Very low noise: 1s <5x10-14 • Ultra fast measurement time • Sample rate: up to 1000 readings/second • Selectable filters, resolutions & tau's • Phase/frequency analogue meter extremely useful and simple to use Applications from Metrology to Production Test The A7-MX is the latest substantially enhanced successor to Quartzlock’s long line of phase/frequency comparators. The A7-MX is invaluable in the design of low noise oscillators, atomic frequency standards and passive devices where close in phase noise, freedom from spurii, and phase stability are essential design objectives. The A7-MX is unique in its ability to measure time domain stability at averaging times from 1ms to weeks, and phase noise from mHz to 500Hz. Discrete spurii can be measured close to the carrier at levels down to -120dBc. The high resolution input operates at 5 or 10MHz. The reference is also at 5 or 10MHz. A lower resolution input is provided which will measure at frequencies between 50kHz and 65MHz. The A7-MX is not limited to research and development. The real time digital display of fractional frequency offset combined with the high resolution analogue meter makes the production setting of all types of frequency standard a simple and rapid operation. 2 • • • • • • • • • Stability analysis of oscillators Close-in Phase noise analysis Atomic frequency standard calibration Active & passive component phase stability measurement ADEV, Modified ADEV, TVAR, MTIE etc (with stable 32) Temperature & Phase testing Relative & Absolute counter display of Frequency & Phase difference Precision product characterisation “National Measurement” level metrology & analysis Benefits • Unskilled operation • Unequalled performance • External PC enables low cost 2-3 year upgrades • Flexible and easy to use • Saves up to 40% of oscillator R&D time Description The A7-MX is a bench or rack mount instrument which interfaces with most notebook or desktop PCs, using an RS232 or USB interface on the computer. The instrument includes a differential multiply and mix chain, and a 2 channel digital phase comparator. An analog meter shows The virtual panel provides control of measurement rate (tau), and mode (narrowband, high resolution, or broadband). Repeater indicators are provided to show the settings of controls on the physical instrument. It is possible to store blocks of measurements up to 32768 measurements into a computer file. Once a measurement is started, the instrument will store the complete measurement block internally, provide power is maintained. This makes certain that data is never lost, even if the computer crashes and has to be restarted. In order to make sure that a long measurement run is not interrupted by a power failure, the instrument may be powed from a battery supply of 24V. This will automatically be used if line power should fail. frequency offset or phase difference. The digital display shows phase or fractional frequency offset depending upon mode. The units and number of significant digits is adjustable. There are 2 inputs on the front panel. One of these is for the phase/ frequency reference which will often be an atomic frequency standard. The reference frequency can be 5 or 10MHz with automatic switching. The other input is for the measurement signal, also 5 or 10MHz, also with automatic switching. There are pushbutton controls for phase/frequency mode, multiplier ratio , filter selection, sampling rate (tau) and phase reset. There are also a number of controls which adjust the analog meter function. There are indicator lights to confirm that the reference and measurement inputs are at the required level, and that the internal phase locked multipliers are locked. The analog meter shows fractional frequency difference with full scale ranges from +/-1x10-7 to +/-1x10-12, and phase differences with full scale ranges from +/10us to +/-100ps. When the instrument is connected to a PC, the control positions are read by the PC and displayed on the virtual control panel On the rear panel is the broadband frequency input which can be between 50kHz and 65MHz. Also on the rear panel are outputs to an external timer/counter, and a switch which adjusts the analogue meter time constant. The instrument has two main modes, narrowband, high resolution, and broadband. The selection between these modes is made on the PC virtual control panel. In narrowband, high resolution mode, the measured signal must be at 5 or 10MHz. In this mode the instrument uses multiply and mix techniques to increase the fractional frequency difference ( or phase difference) between the measured input and the reference. This improves the resolution of the digital phase comparator, and results in a theoretical phase resolution of 0.125fs. The actual resolution is noise limited to about 50fs. The corresponding fractional frequency resolution is 1x10-13 in one second of measurement time. In broadband mode the multiply and mix is not used. The digital phase comparator makes direct phase measurements with a resolution of 12.5ps. This is comparable to the fastest frequency counters and gives a fractional frequency resolution of 3x10-11 in one second of measurement time, or 2x10-12 with averaging switched on. When connected to a PC, the software provides 4 scalable windows. One of these is the virtual panel and digital display. The other 3 are data plot, Allan variance plot, and phase spectral density (phase noise) plot. Averaging mode may be selected from this window. If averaging is off, the digital phase comparator makes single measurements at the selected sampling rate. If averaging is on, the comparator operates at the maximum sampling rate of 1ks/s. A block average reduces the data rate to the slected sampling rate. Dither mode may be selected from this window. Dither is a technique which reduces unavoidable internally generated spurii to below the noise floor, at the expense of an increase in noise floor. For further details see operating manual. The data window shows real time accumulation of the data as a graph. The last 8 to 32768 data points may be shown on the graph. A statistics display shows max, min mean, and standard deviation for the data shown on the graph. The scaling of the y axis may be auto, manual, or max/min. The Allan variance window shows calculated Allan variance for all data accumulated since the start of a run. If averaging is off, single phase measurements are made at the requested sampling rate and the statistic is true Allan variance. If averaging mode is on, the statistic becomes modified Allan varaince. The graph title correctly indicates this. The Phase Spectral Density (PSD) window shows phase noise as a graph of L(f) in units of dBc against offset frequency on a log scale. Various window functions and averaging modes are provided. The routines are identical to those used in the Industry standard software “Stable32”. The user can select the basic length of the FFT, and also the degree of overlap. As data is accumulated, new FFTs are performed on a mix of old and new data depending on the overlap parameter. Each FFT result can either replace the last graph, be added to a block average, or be used in a continous or exponential average. All FFTs are correctly normalised for bin bandwidth, window ENBW, window coherent gain, and nominal frequency. Frequency data always has a fixed offset removed before being used for the FFT calculation. Phase data has a fixed slope ramp removed by linear regression. This avoids a large component in the lower frequency bins which will distort the result, even when windowing is used. A mode is provided for the measurement of discrete components (spurii). In this mode the scale is changed from L(f), dBc/Hz to Power,dBc. Corrections for bin bandwidth and window ENBW are removed. A flat top window is provided for measurement of discretes, with scallop loss of only 0.01dB. 3 A7-MX Specification NarrowBand / High Resolution Mode Inputs a) Reference b) Measurement (3 measurement inputs - see non standard options = A7-MY) c) Input levels: d) Max Freq difference (Filter off): Connectors Outputs a) Counter A channel 5 or 10MHz sine wave 5 or 10MHz sine wave +0dBm to +13dBm into 50Ω Low multiplier High multiplier N Type, Front Panel ±5x10-5 ±5x10-5 ±1x10-5 ±1x10-7 b) Counter B channel c) Counter external reference 100kHz square wave CMOS/TTL (frequency mode) 10us pulse CMOS/TTL (phase difference mode) 10us pulse CMOS/TTL (phase difference mode) 10MHz CMOS/TTL Filter Nominal 3dB Bandwidths Selectable bandwidth IF filter reduces measurement noise 200Hz, 60Hz, 10Hz Fractional frequency multiplication Selectable Measurement resolution High multiplier 105 Low multiplier 103 A7-MX Relative frequency difference mode RMS resolution (filter 200Hz) Using internal phase/freq. meter (TIC) and Windows software Measured resolution High multiplier Low multiplier Digits/second 1x10-13/gate time 1x10-12/gate time Analogue Meter Resolution manually selected from 6 ranges Full scale ranges (decade steps) Time constant (linked to range) Time constant multiplier Displayed Noise Zero drift ±1x10-7 to ±1x10-12 20ms to 10s x1, x3, x10 <2x10-13 peak <2x10-13/hour Phase difference mode (High resolution, Filter 200Hz) RMS resolution (single measurement) 50fs Analogue Meter Full scale ranges (decade steps) Displayed noise Zero drift ±10us to ±100ps <1ps peak <1ps/hour Short-term stability (noise floor) Allan variance 1ms 10ms 100ms 1s 10s 100s 1,000s 10,000s <5x10-11 <5x10-12 <5x10-13 <5x10-14 <1x10-14 -15 <2x10 <5x10-16 <1x10-16 1ms to 2000s 1, 2, 5 Steps Tau Sampling interval – gate time Drift Hour Day Temperature Measurement Error Input referred self generated spurii 103 multiplication 105 multiplication Corresponding peak phase modulation 103 multiplication 105 multiplication Allan Variance Error (due to each spur) 103 multiplication 105 multiplication (See note 1) <1ps typical at constant ambient temp <5ps typical at constant ambient temp <2ps/°C <-90dBc <-100dBc <1ps <0.3ps 10-12 divided by averaging interval (tau) 3x10-13 divided by averaging interval (tau) Note: phase modulation spurii will be present at multiples of the input frequency difference. Note 1: Measured as the standard deviation of 1024 phase difference measurements/1.024s 4 Phase Spectral Density Specification (Close-In Phase Noise) Applications Phase noise measurement at very small frequency offsets Identification of spurious components in the data which can distort an Allan variance plot Specifications Maximum offset frequency 500Hz (at 1ks/s) Close-in Phase Noise floor typically: -100dBc/Hz @ 10mHz offset (0.01Hz offset) -115dBc/Hz @ 100mHz offset (0.1Hz offset) -130dBc/Hz @ 1Hz offset -150dBc/Hz @ 100Hz offset -160dBc/Hz @ 500Hz offset BROADBAND Mode Note: 5 or 10MHz reference must be present at reference (front panel) input of A7-MX Input 50kHz to 65MHz Type Impedance Input levels 50kHz to 1MHz 1MHz to 50MHz 50MHz to 65MHz Connector 224mV rms (0dBm) to 2V rms (+19dBm) 70.7mV rms (-10dBm) to 2V rms (+19dBm) 224mV rms (0dBm) to 2V rms (+19dBm) BNC rear panel Resolution (nominal) Broad- and Narrowband BNC, rear panel 1Mohm 11 digits /second of gate time (averaging on) Noise Floor (allan variance) (measured at 10MHz, 10dBm input) Averaging off All gate times Averaging on Averaging factor 10 100 1000 Allan variance < 2x10-9 < 2x10-10 < 2x10-11 tau 100ms 1s 10s (Averaging factor = gate time/1ms) < 2x10-11 1s < 6x10-12 1s < 2x10-12 1s GENERAL SPECIFICATION Virtual Front Panel Absolute or relative (normalised) frequency display User entered normalisation frequency Allan Variance graph Frequency data graph Data storage of phase or frequency data Temperature Range Operating: 10C to 35C (± 5C within this range during measurement) Storage: -10C to 60C Mechanical 2U 19" rack unit WxHxD(max) 450(483)x88(96)x345(370) <9kg Power Supply120/ 240V AC line 50W max 24V DC battery backup with automatic switching. Current consumption 1Amp max. With option 1 add 1Amp Supplemental Performance Data (SPD)Please contact Quartzlock for SPD and applications note. 5 Typical Narrowband Performance (PSD) A7-MX Phase Noise Floor (10MHz) – Narrowband high resolution mode. 500mHz to 500Hz offset A7-MX Phase Noise Floor (10MHz) – Narrowband high resolution mode. 300uHz to 500Hz offset Typical Narrowband Performance Graphs (AVAR) A7-MX Allan Variance (10MHz) – Narrowband high resolution mode. 10-3s to 10s (red plot is predicted) A7-MX Allan Variance (10MHz) – Narrowband high resolution mode. 10-1s to 8x10-4s (red plot is predicted) Typical Broadband Performance Graphs (PSD & AVAR) The ongoing development of Quartzlock’s Signal Stability Analyzer line illustrates our future product road map A7-MX Signal Stability Analyzer – available now A7-A Analogue Frequency & Phase Difference Meter – available now Broadband Phase noise floor. 300mHz to 500Hz offset A7-MX (ULN) Ultra Low Noise Signal Stability Analyzer 1 to 20MHz – 180 days ARO A7-ATE Automatic PC controlled Signal Stability Analyzer – 180 days ARO A7-MXE Microwave Signal Stability Analyzer Extended Frequency versions to 28GHz – 2010 Broadband Allan variance noise floor. 100ms to 1000Hz offset (red plot is predicted) 9 A7-MX Block Diagram Figure 2 (see page 8) Figure 1 (see page 8) Ordering Information – Options 0Add Seamless Battery Back-up Switch & 24V dc input 36Training (contact Quartzlock) 1Distribution Card 1 Input 4 Outputs 40Power splitter and cable set for noise floor verification 2Delete internal phasemeter and software – Order model A7-A Option 27 is an internal rubidium oscillator refernce. It may be preferred that an external reference be supplied in light of Quartzlock 2009 rubidium product line – ask Quartzlock (costs are similar). We recommend the Quartzlock model A10-MX Ultra Low Noise Rubidium Frequency Reference. 18Add Additional 1 to 5 Years Warranty (18.1 = 1 Year ... 18.5 = 5 years) 27Add Ultra Low Phase Noise Rubidium Oscillator (see A10-Y and A10-MX specifications) 32Add Stable 32 Analysis Software 6 49Phase noise out to 5kHz offset Non standard options – ask Quartzlock A7-MX Technical Description The principle behind the A7-MX is to increase the resolution of a digital phase meter. This is achieved by multiplying the frequency to be measured to a higher frequency, and then mixing it down to a lower frequency using a local oscillator derived from the frequency reference. The principle is illustrated in Figure 1 (see page 6), and has been made the basis of a number of instruments in the past. The relationship is shown for signals down the mix/multiply chain for an input signal with a difference of delta f from the reference, and also for a signal with no frequency difference, but with a phase difference of delta t. (An important clarification is that “phase” difference beteween two signals can either be measured either in time units or angle units. A measurement in time units does not specify or imply the frequency of the signals. A measurement in angle units (radians) needs a prior knowledge of the frequency. Throughout this description, phase will be measured in time units) It should be noted that a frequency multiplication multiplies a frequency difference but leaves a phase difference unchanged. Conversely, a mixing process leaves a frequency difference unchanged, but multiplies a phase difference. When the frequency differences are converted to fractional frequency differences by dividing by the nominal frequency, it will be seen that the multiplication factors for frequency and phase are the same. The big disadvantage in the simple approach shown in Figure 1 is that phase drift with temperature will be excessive. As rate of phase drift is equal to the fractional frequency difference , the measurement of the frequency of an unknown device will be in error. For example, a drift rate of 10ps per second in the first multiplier in the Figure 1 diagram will be multiplied to 1ns per second at the output. This is equivalent to a 1 x 10-12 frequency error due to drift. Phase drift may occur in mixers and multipliers, but more especially in multipliers. If harmonic multipliers are used, drift will occur in the analogue filters that are used to separate the wanted harmonic from the subharmonics and unwanted mixer products. If phase lock multipliers are used, phase drift will occur in the digital dividers. To overcome the drift problem, the multiplier/mixer chain is made differential, ie the reference signal is processed in an identical way to the unknown. When the two channels are subtracted, any drift in the multipliers will cancel. The method of doing this can be seen from the functional block diagram of the A7-MX, FIG 2. The first stage of the processing for both the reference and measurement channels is a multiplication by 10 (20 for 5MHz inputs). The multipliers are phase locked loops with a VCXO of 100MHz locked to the input by dividing by 10 (20 for 5MHz inputs). The phase detectors used are double balanced diode mixer type phase detectors. These exhibit the lowest phase drift with temperature. The dividers used are ECL types with very small propagation delays. The outputs of the dividers are reclocked using a D type flipflop clocked by the 100MHz VCXO signal. In this way the divider delay is made equal to the propagation delay of one D type, approx 500ps. As a further refinement, the reclocking D types for the reference and measurement channels are closely thermally coupled. As the divider propagation delays are equal to the reclocking flipflop delays, the tracking between the reference and measurement channels is exceptionally good. The VCXO signals at 100MHz also drive double balanced FET mixers for the first down conversion to 1MHz. The 99MHz LO is common to both the reference and measurement channels, and is obtained from a 2 way passive inductive type power splitter. The output from the mixers is filtered by diplexer type filters to remove the image at 199MHz and the signal and LO feed through at 100MHz and 99MHz respectively. The wanted IFs at 1MHz are passed without further processing to the second multipliers. The avoidance of IF amplifiers at this point avoids drift which could be substantial as the propagation delay of the IF amplifier could be several 100 nanoseconds. IF amplifiers are used for the first IF take off points to the IF processing board. The first IFs are used when a multiplication of 103 is selected. The second multipliers are nearly identical to the first multipliers with the difference that the phase lock loop dividers divide by 100. This multiplies the first IF of 1MHz to the second VCXO frequency of 100MHz. The second downconvert is identical to the first, with the second IFs being passed to the IF processing board. The first and second multipliers/mixers for the reference and measurement channels are built symmetrically on one PCB (Printed Circuit Board). In order to ensure the best possible temperature tracking beween the channels, the PCB is in good thermal contact with a thick metal baseplate. This minimises rapid temperature changes between the channels. The two pairs of IF signals (sine wave) are passed to the IF processing PCB. The two pairs are the outputs from the first and second downconvertors. They correspond to final multiplication factors of 103 and 105. Also on the IF processing board is the 99MHz LO generation and phase lock. A 10MHz unmultiplied signal is passed to the IF processing board from the reference channel on the Multiplier board. The 1MHz IFs could be divided down and measured directly by the frequency counter, which would make a time difference measurement between the measurement and reference IF signals. In this way the difference between the channels would be measured and any drift would cancel. Although this would work for a phase measurement, there The detailed process is as follows: The 10MHz reference from the multiplier board (this is derived from the reference input without multiplication) is divided by 25 to 400kHz. The 400kHz is then divided by 4 to give two quadrature signals at 100kHz. These signals are filtered using low pass filters to give 100kHz quadrature sine waves. The 1MHz multiplied reference IF (after limiting) is delayed by 250ns to give quadrature square waves. These operate dual switching mixers with the 100kHz quadrature sine waves as the linear inputs. The outputs are combined to form an image reject mixer, with the wanted sideband at 900kHz and the unwanted sideband at 1.1MHz. The 900kHz sideband is filtered in an LC bandpass filter to further remove the unwanted sideband and the 1MHz feed through. This output is used as the linear input to a further switching mixer which downconverts the 1MHz multiplied measurement IF (after limiting) to the final IF of 100kHz. The final IF is filtered in an LC bandpass filter to remove the unwanted sideband at 1.9MHz and any other mixer products. The measurement and reference channels have now been combined into a single IF of 100kHz with the drift and LO instabilities removed. This IF is now further processed to provide the counter outputs as will be described in the next paragraphs. The measurement bandwidth of the system has been defined up to this point by the loop bandwidths of the phase lock multipliers and the bandwidth of the 100kHz LC filter. The 3dB bandwidth is about 8kHz. This means that fourier frequencies further displaced from the carrier of greater than 5kHz will be attenuated. The phase measurement process essentially samples the phase of the unknown signal relative to the reference at a rate determined by the selected tau (selectable from 1ms to 2000sec). As with any sampling process, aliasing of higher frequency noise into the baseband will occur. Thus further band limiting of the 100kHz IF is desirable before measurement takes place. The A7-MX has a crystal filter following the LC filter with selectable bandwidths of nominally 10Hz, 60Hz, and 200Hz. For most Allan variance plots at least the 200Hz filter should be used. The use of a filter will reduce the noise floor of the instrument which is desirable when measuring very stable active sources and most passive devices. After the crystal filter the 100kHz IF is limited to a square wave by a zero crossing detector. This output is made available to the counter A channel when frequency mode is selected. Both the 100kHz IF containing the multiplied frequency difference information and the 100kHz unmultiplied reference are divided in identical divider chains down to 1kHz to 1mHz in selectable decade steps. The output of the dividers trigger digital ( clocked) monostables to generate 10us pulses which are routed to the counter A and B channels when phase mode is selected. When the internal digital phase comparator is in use, the phase of both the 100kHz reference and the 100kHz multiplied IFs are measured relative to the unmultiplied 10MHz reference. The digital phase comparator then calculates the resulting phase difference or fractional frequency offset depending upon the selected mode. The digital phase meter also applies averaging if selected. It has internal storage sufficient for 32768 measurements. The RS232 interface to the computer uses full handshaking to prevent data loss. The internal phase comparator has a resolution of 12.5ps, obtained by using an analogue pulse expander circuit. The meter circuit also uses the 100kHz IF and 100kHz reference. The basis of the circuit is a differential frequency to voltage convertor. However in order to increase the resolution of this circuit, a further stage of multiplication and mixing is employed. The 100kHz reference is divided down to 500Hz. This frequency is then multiplied to 4.9995MHz using a phase lock loop with a divider of 9999. The 100kHz measurement IF is multiplied to 5MHz also using a phase lock loop. Finally the 5MHz signal and the 4.9995MHz signal are mixed together to give an IF of 500Hz. An additional fractional frequency multiplication of 104 results. On the least sensitive meter range this 500Hz IF varies in frequency from 0Hz to 1kHz. The 500Hz measurement IF and the 500Hz reference both trigger digital monostables which produce very accurate fixed width pulses . These pulses are used to gate an accurate positive and negative current into a chopper stabilised summing amplifier. The output of the summing amplifier is a voltage which drives the moving coil centre zero meter. The meter circuit has 4 decade ranges which in conjunction with the 2 multiplication factors of the main comparator results in 6 meter ranges with full scale deflections of 10-7 to 10-12. The meter time constants are linked to the meter range, however may be increased if desired using a switch mounted on the rear panel. Contact us: China Europe & US calibration sales service repair Telephone: +44(0)1803 862062 ISO 9000 Standard NIST Traceable • Specification subject to change without notice • This issue replaces all previous issues • This specification does not form part of any contract • ISO 9001 • CE mark where applicable • © Copyright Dartington Text 2009 • Doc No: PG Issue 14 (June 2009) 8 would be no way of making a conventional frequency measurement. The IFs cannot be directly subtracted in a mixer as they are both nominally 1MHz, and the nominal difference frequency would be zero. In order to avoid this problem, the multiplied reference IF is frequency shifted to 900kHz using an LO of 100kHz derived from the unmultiplied reference. The 900kHz is then mixed with the 1MHz measurement channel IF to give a final IF of 100kHz. This final IF contains the multiplied frequency difference, but drift in the multipliers and phase noise in the common 99MHz LO will have been canceled out. Referenced 5x Smart Awards Fax: +44(0)1803 867962 e-mail: sales@quartzlock.com Web: quartzlock.com The Quartzlock logo is a registered trademark. Spec subject to change without notice & not part of any contract. Copyright © 2009. Issue 06.09

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