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Oscillator FAQs

To get answers to the most frequently asked questions about our oscillators, please select one of the links below:


What is an oscillator?

An oscillator is a circuit that generates an RF output signal through feedback and amplification. The oscillator contains a path whereby part of the output signal is fed back to the input. A circuit containing an active device with feedback elements must have the feedback signal larger than, and in-phase with, the input signal for the oscillator to sustain oscillation. The most common types of waveforms produced by an oscillator are sinusoidal and square.

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What is a crystal-controlled oscillator?

A crystal-controlled oscillator is an oscillator that has a crystal in place of the L-C tuned circuit that significantly improves the oscillator's frequency stability.

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What is the output of an oscillator?

The output of an oscillator is a highly stable reference signal. This signal forms a sinusoidal (sine) or square wave, depending on the technology of the active device used in the circuit.

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What are the differences between types of oscillators and what are their typical uses?

  • MCXO (Microcomputer-Compensated Crystal Oscillators)
    MCXOs are often used in Spread Spectrum System Clocks, MTI Radars, Wireless Base Stations, Telecom Timing Modules, and Precision Test Equipment

  • OCVCXO (Oven-Controlled Voltage-Controlled Crystal Oscillators)
    OCVCXOs are often used in Navigation System Clocks, Frequency Standards, MTI Radars, Wireless Base Stations, Telecom Timing Modules, Precision Test Equipment, and Phase Lock Loop (PLL) circuits in Telecom Timing Recovery, Wireless Base Station Channel or Timing Reference and Fiber Optic Timing Reference.

  • OCXO (Oven Controlled Crystal Oscillator)
    This is the highest precision quartz frequency reference available. The crystal is kept at a constant temperature inside an enclosure (oven). Applications for this type of device include Wireless Base Stations, Telecom Timing Modules, and Precision Test Equipment.

  • RbXO (Rubidium Crystal Oscillators)
    RbXOs are often used in satellite terminals and bistatic and multistatic radar.

  • TCVCXO (Temperature-Compensated-Voltage Controlled Crystal Oscillators)
    TCVCXOs are often used for frequency control in Tactical Radios, Telecom Timing Modules, Wireless Systems, and reference oscillators.

  • TCXO (Temperature Compensated Crystal Oscillator)
    This device uses a temperature compensation circuit in the oscillator to achieve a stabilized quartz frequency reference. The quartz reference is not enclosed like an OCXO, therefore not as accurate, but is smaller and uses less power to operate. Applications include Telecom Timing Modules and Wireless Systems Reference Oscillators (Microwave, etc.)

  • VCTCXO (Voltage Controlled Temperature Compensated Crystal Oscillator)
    A VCTCXO has an electronic frequency modulation input pin to control the output frequency and uses a temperature compensation circuit in the oscillator to achieve a stabilized quartz frequency reference. Applications include Phase Lock Loop (PLL) circuits in Telecom Timing Modules, and Wireless Systems Reference Oscillators (Microwave).

  • VCXO (Voltage Controlled Crystal Oscillator)
    The VCXO is a crystal oscillator with an electronic frequency modulation input pin to control the output frequency. Applications include Phase Lock Loop (PLL) circuits in Telecom Timing Recovery, Wireless Base Station Channel or Timing Reference, Fiber Optic Timing Reference

  • XO (Clock Oscillator)
    An XO is a simple Crystal Oscillator. Used as frequency timing reference in Microprocessor circuits, Telecom Timing Circuits, Ethernet Transceivers, etc.

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If you have more questions about our QCM products, call us today at 1-800-725-1426, fill out our contact form, email us at customerservice@icmfg.com or request an online quote for International Crystal Manufacturing radio frequency control devices – quartz crystals, oscillators, QCM crystals, filters, TCXOs / VCTCXOs, and precision crystals.

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Quartz Crystals Precision Telemetry Crystal Products
International Crystal Manufacturing
10 North Lee Avenue Oklahoma City, OK 73102
Toll Free Phone: 1-800-725-1426 Toll Free Fax: 1-800-322-9426
Phone: 1-405-236-3741 Fax: 1-405-235-1904
Email: customerservice@icmfg.com

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