Tech Briefs

Unlike other DROs, this one is electrically tunable.

A multichannel dielectric-resonator oscillator (DRO), built as a prototype of a local oscillator for an X-band transmitter or receiver, is capable of being electrically tuned among and within 26 adjacent frequency channels, each 1.16 MHz wide, in a band ranging from ≈7,040 to ≈7,070 GHz. The tunability of this oscillator is what sets it apart from other DROs, making it possible to use mass-produced oscillator units of identical design in diverse X-band applications in which there are requirements to use different fixed frequencies or to switch among frequency channels.

ImageThe oscillator (see figure) includes a custom-designed voltage-controlled-oscillator (VCO) monolithic microwave integrated circuit (MMIC), a dielectric resonator disk (“puck”), and two varactorcoupling circuits, all laid out on a 25-mil (0.635-mm)-thick alumina substrate having a length and width of 17.8 mm. The resonator disk has a diameter of 8.89 mm and a thickness of 4.01 mm. The oscillator is mounted in an 8.9-mm-deep cavity in a metal housing.

The VCO MMIC incorporates a negative- resistance oscillator amplifier along with a buffer amplifier. The resonator disk is coupled to a microstrip transmission line connected to the negative-resistance port of the VCO MMIC. The two varactorcoupling circuits include microstrip lines, laid out orthogonally to each other, for coupling with the resonator disk. Each varactor microstrip line is DC-coupled to an external port via a microwave choke. One varactor is used for coarse tuning to select a channel; the other varactor is used (1) for fine tuning across the 1.16-MHz width of each channel and (2) as a feedback port for a phase-lock loop. The resonator disk is positioned to obtain (1) the most desirable bandwidth, (2) relatively tight coupling with the microstrip connected to the coarse-tuning varactor, and (3) relatively loose coupling with the microstrip connected to the fine-tuning varactor.

Measurements of performance showed that the oscillator can be switched among any of the 26 channels and can be phaselocked to a nominal frequency in any channel. The degree of nonlinearity of tuning was found not to exceed 2.5 percent. The tuning sensitivity was found to be 6.15 MHz/V at a bias offset of –2 V on the phaselock- loop varactor. The phase noise of the oscillator in free-running operation was found to be –107 dBc/Hz (where “dBc” signifies decibels relative to the carrier signal) at 100 kHz away from the carrier frequency.

This work was done by Narayan Mysoor, Matthew Dennis, and Brian Cook of Caltech for NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory. For further information, access the Technical Support Package (TSP) free on-line at under the Semiconductors & ICs category. NPO-41275

This Brief includes a Technical Support Package (TSP).

Multichannel X-Band Dielectric-Resonator Oscillator (reference NPO-41275) is currently available for download from the TSP library.

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