Thursday, October 19, 2017

What Do Clocks, Carriers, Local Oscillators, and FM Have in Common? by Lou Frenzel 1

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The master timing control circuit for most electronic applications is a precision signal source. For digital applications, it’s an accurate clock. In RF applications, it’s a carrier source for a transmitter or a local oscillator (LO) for a receiver. And if frequency modulation (FM) is involved, a modulator and demodulator are needed along with a carrier source.

In all of these cases, a phase-locked-loop (PLL) frequency synthesizer is an excellent choice. It provides not only the precision and accuracy needed, but also a flexible way to change frequency.

PLL 101


Just as a review, a PLL synthesizer is a closed-loop controller with feedback (Fig. 1). A voltage-controlled oscillator (VCO) generates the output signal. Frequency is determined by an LC resonant network, but controlled by a dc input voltage derived from a phase detector and a low-pass loop filter. 

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