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Temperature and Trim Effect Compensation of a VCXO

Using a Multidimensional Segmented Polynomial Array


John Esterline and Alan Snavely
Esterline Research and Design, LLC
Shiremanstown, PA USA

Abstract

METHODOLOGY AND OVERVIEW OF M-SAC TECHNOLOGY

Voltage Controlled Crystal Oscillators (VCXOs) are widely used and well
known frequency control products. VCXOs are typically characterized by
having wide frequency pulling ranges (greater than 50ppm). These
oscillators are also uncompensated for temperature performance. This
means temperature performance of 20ppm or more is typical over the
industrial range of -40 to 85 C. Trim effect is a skewing of the frequency
versus temperature performance of a crystal oscillator as the frequency is
pulled (trimmed) away from the oscillator's nominal frequency. Even
though unwanted, the degradation of performance from trim effect is
something generally accepted as a characteristic of VCXOs. This paper
focuses on a method of compensating crystal oscillator temperature and
trim effect using a multi-dimensional segmented polynomial array. The
inherent trim effect has been reduced from approximately 11ppm down to
0.5ppm. This is a 22-fold improvement over the inherent performance. The
theory of this compensation method will be discussed, and data showing the
results of temperature and trim effect compensation on actual oscillators
will be presented.

The compensation of trim effect requires first that frequency versus


temperature slopes at the nominal electrical frequency control (EFC) voltage
be reduced as much as possible. This permits accurate characterization of
temperature stability across the EFC voltage spectrum, thus optimizing the
compensation results achieved.

M-SAC TECHNOLOGY HIGHLIGHTS


(MULTI-DIMENSIONAL SEGMENTED ARRAY COMPENSATION )

Very High Compensation Ratio Capability:

Figure 1 illustrates the predictions and measured performance for the


compensation of temperature stability on the VCXO. The compensation was
performed at the nominal EFC voltage with a specified error tolerance of
100 ppb. The solution achieved a 100X improvement in stability using a
seven segment solution incorporating 42 storage elements which was
comprised of 2nd, 3rd, and 4th order polynomial functions as indicated in the
legend area of the chart.
As demonstrated in Figure 1, the M-SAC method can curve fit virtually any
data set with a very high degree of precision. It works by segmenting a large
number of data points into smaller subsets of contiguous points that can be
curve fit to a user-specified degree of precision using polynomial functions
selected for the order that provides the greatest storage density (the ratio of
the number of data points fit to the number of mathematical elements in the
solution).
Equation (1) illustrates the general form of a polynomial of order n,
where T is the temperature, and the remaining a terms are the coefficients
which are solved using regression techniques.

Equation (2) is a multi-dimensional function designed specifically to fit the


complex solution space resulting from the interdependent relationship
between EFC voltage and temperature as illustrated in Figure 3,

where v is the EFC voltage, and for every order of (2), a unique temperaturedependent function, h(T) of the form (3) is included as an additional
coefficient of (2),

where T is temperature. Note: The order of n for equation (3) does not
necessarily have to match the order of n for equation (2), it only has to be of
sufficient order to provide an adequate fit of the data.
The user defined criteria was initially chosen to be 20ppb. This returned a
single segment solution comprising 58 storage elements with a predicted
error of 14 ppb. With 4 segments a solution was achieved using 232
elements which yielded a predicted error of less than 1 ppb. The actual
measured performance resulting from the implementation of the solution is
shown in Figure 4, where the initial peak to peak deviation of 21.08 ppm was
reduced to 0.992 ppm, representing a more than 20X improvement in trim
effect performance.
Frequency vs EFC Voltage vs Temperature
After Compensation for Trim Effect

M-SAC IMPLEMENTATION
A block diagram of the hardware configuration used on the M-SAC
prototype is shown in Figure 6 below. The Osc can be any voltage
controlled oscillator, but as previously stated, a 20 MHz, off-the-shelf, wide
pull VCXO was used for the work outlined in this document.
Functionally, the microprocessor calculates a digital correction value
which is converted to a DC voltage by the DAC and applied to the EFC input of
the VCXO. New correction values are calculated and implemented at a rate of
about 14 Hz and are derived using real-time measurements of temperature
and ADC sampling of the user-supplied EFC voltage. Although not employed
on this prototype, software and/or hardware filtering can minimize the phase
noise degradation resulting from the application of EFC voltage updates.
The external Memory contains the M-SAC solutions and the program to
implement them. It also has sufficient capacity to hold up to 2000 unique
storage elements for the M-SAC solutions. Looking forward, the planned
reduction to the physical size of the microprocessor and memory needed to
support miniaturization will limit the number of storage elements to 500.
However, one can see that this is more than adequate, as only 100 elements
were needed to achieve the performance presented here where both
temperature stability and trim effect were compensated.

EFC=0.000V

EFC=0.165V
EFC=0.330V

1.0

EFC=0.495V
0.8

EFC=0.660V

EFC=0.825V

0.6

EFC=0.990V

0.4

EFC=1.155V
EFC=1.320V

0.2

dF (ppm)

Figure 2 illustrates the VCXOs temperature stability performance as


measured over the entire EFC voltage range after compensation at the
nominal EFC voltage. Some stability degradation due to trim effect is evident.
Figure 3 is the same data, only normalized to +25C so that the stability
degradation is more obvious.

EFC=1.485V
EFC=1.650V

0.0

EFC=1.815V
-0.2

EFC=1.980
EFC=2.145V

-0.4

EFC=2.310V
EFC=2.475V

-0.6

Figure 6: Hardware Implementation

EFC=2.640V
-0.8

EFC=2.805V

EFC=2.970V

-1.0
-55

-40

-25

-10

20

35

50

65

Temp C

EFC=3.135V

EFC=3.300V

The differences between the prototypes actual and predicted


temperature stability performance were ultimately identified as a sensitivity
to variations in thermal rate, or rate effect. This sensitivity to thermal rate
results from a lack of co-location and/or thermal coupling between the
resonator and temperature sensor used for compensation. Both of these
factors are simply a consequence of the use of a discrete temperature sensor
in the prototype construction as shown in Figure 5 below and can be
mitigated with either an integrated solution, such as an ASIC or through the
use of chip-scale components assembled on a thermally conductive medium.

Deterministic Solutions:
User-specified curve fit error tolerance

Adaptable for Multiple Effects


Can be used to compensate any effect that can be sensed.

INTRODUCTION

The method presented in this paper describes a novel approach for


compensating a wide pull VCXO (>150 ppm) for temperature stability and
stability degradation due to trim effect, as wide pull VCXOs inherently suffer
from these problems. The device utilized for this work was a generic 20 MHz,
off-the-shelf VCXO, readily available through distribution.

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Figure 4: Freq vs Temp vs EFCMeasured Performance

Figure 1: Greater Than 100X Improvement in Temp Stability

Figure 2: Freq vs Temp vs EFC Voltage (Raw Data)


Frequency vs EFC Voltage vs Temperature
Compensated at EFC=1.65V Only [Normalized]

7.5
5.0

EFC=0.00V

EFC=0.33V

2.5

EFC=0.66V
0.0

EFC=0.99V

EFC=1.65V
-5.0

EFC=1.98V
EFC=2.31V

-7.5

VCXO

EFC=2.64V

-10.0

EFC=2.97V
EFC=3.30V

-12.5
-15.0
-55

-40

-25

-10

20

35

50

65

80

95

Temp C

Figure 3: Freq vs Temp vs EFV Voltage [Normalized]

When used as a curve fitting method, the segmenting nature of this


technology has broad application as it permits the curve fit of any data set
to a user-defined level of error, up to and including the noise level of the
data itself.
Whether integrated into an ASIC or simply assembled from the individual
building blocks, the M-SAC technology is well-suited and easily adaptable
for incorporation into systems, or any product or device requiring
compensation for environment effects or other measureable stimuli.
Additional R & D Opportunities for Advancing M-SAC Technology:

REFERENCES
[1] Raymond L. Filler et al., Specification and Measurement of the Frequency Versus
Temperature Characteristics of Crystal Oscillators, 43rd Annual Symposium on Frequency
Control, 1989

EFC=1.32V

-2.5

The M-SAC technology provides a novel approach for compensating


electronic oscillators for temperature stability as well as stability
degradation resulting from trim effect.

Investigate how to improve performance related to thermal rate effect.


This could include the use of an integrated temperature sensor or involve
the development of a method to compensate the effect entirely.

Temp
Sensor

10.0

dF (ppm)

Trim effect is a term given to describe the changes in an oscillators


frequency versus temperature characteristic resulting from an adjustment to
the oscillators nominal frequency. It has been observed to degrade
temperature stability performance in excess of 10X at adjustment extremes,
and can result in non-compliant performance after adjustment for normal
crystal aging. It is the result of the non-linear characteristics of the resonator
and the variable capacitance diode used to adjust the resonator frequency
and exists to varying degrees on all crystal oscillators.

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CONCLUSIONS

Figure 5: VCXO Prototype Board

[2] Esterline, J.C.; , "Trim Effect Compensation using an Artificial Neural Network, European
Frequency and Time Forum & International Frequency Control Symposium (EFTF/IFC), 2013
Joint, Prague, 2013, pp. 963-966.
[3] Ward, K.R.; , "A novel approach to improving the stability of TCVCXO temperature
performance," Frequency Control Symposium and PDA Exhibition Jointly with the 17th
European Frequency and Time Forum, 2003. Proceedings of the 2003 IEEE International , vol.,
no., pp. 473- 477, 4-8 May 2003