Monday, November 7, 2011

How to Specify a VCXO

One thing that design engineers, buyers and supply chain specialists all share in common is the challenge of working within fast paced and deadline driven environments that demand projects, programs, and orders move forward. Understanding how to specify parts may appear straightforward to the casual observer, but for loyal customers and PRX Professionals that couldn't be further from the truth.

Unlike an ordinary voltage controlled oscillator (VCO), the crystal-controlled VCXO possesses the ability to accurately maintain a reference frequency, even in the event of a loss of the control signal and despite changes in the environment such as temperature or supply voltage. This characteristic is especially important in wireless applications where drop-outs can occur and is also of equal value for high-speed wire-line links such as ISDN, ATM and xDSL, where VCXOs maintain the essential frequency with minimal noise or jitter.

There are two most commonly used methods for specifying VCXO's. First, is the APR Method which specifies all performance operating conditions for the device. The second method is known as the Separate Method. The Separate Method specifies device performance under specific operating conditions and calls for defining separate operating parameters such as the frequency's deviation, stability, and tolerance over operating temperature range, output load, and supply voltage. 

The APR Method uses the absolute pull range which allows the customer to simply specify one parameter. The Separate Method considers variations from nominal as the design engineer calculates the absolute pull range by starting with the total pull range of the VCXO, then subtracts the sum of all variations and tolerances such as calibration, temperature, power supply and load.

In conclusion, the APR Method is preferred because customers, buyers, and suppliers can easily calculate the requirements to the bottom line without concern toward individual factors.  

Monday, October 24, 2011

Oscillators and Crystals (Light)

In an industry that can be overwhelming to the new recruit, assistant buyer, or casual observer and in an era where parts are always getting smaller, smarter, and faster, there remains fundamental principles that have withstood the test of time. It is in this realm that we delve in an effort to give our readers a better understanding of the science behind crystals and oscillators.

An oscillator is a mechanical or electronic device that works on the principles of oscillation: a periodic fluctuation between two things based on changes in energy. Computers, clocks, watches, radios, and metal detectors are among the many devices that use oscillators.

A clock pendulum is a simple type of mechanical oscillator. The most accurate timepiece in the world, the atomic clock, keeps time according to the oscillation within atoms. Electronic oscillators are used to generate signals in computers, wireless receivers and transmitters, and audio-frequency equipment, particularly music synthesizers. There are many types of electronic oscillators, but they all operate according to the same basic principle: an oscillator always employs a sensitive amplifier whose output is fed back to the input in phase. Thus, the signal regenerates and sustains itself. This is known as positive feedback. It is the same process that sometimes causes unwanted "howling" in public-address systems.
The frequency at which an oscillator works is usually determined by a quartz crystal. When a direct current is applied to such a crystal, it vibrates at a frequency that depends on its thickness, and on the manner in which it is cut from the original mineral rock. Some oscillators employ combinations of inductors, resistors, and capacitors to determine the frequency however, the best stability is obtained in oscillators that use quartz crystals.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Know the Difference: RoHS and REACH

The basis for RoHS and REACH substance restrictions are quite different. RoHS restrictions are based on hazards - if a substance is hazardous and there are alternatives, then it could be banned. REACH restrictions are introduced only if a risk to human health or the environment can be proven, it cannot be controlled and substitutes exist.
RoHS restrictions can be imposed without a full assessment of the impact of the possible alternatives. It is enough to show that there is a potential risk without evidence of an actual risk. 
For example, lead is banned by RoHS but there is no evidence that its presence in electronics has or is harming human health or the environment. Also, the possible substitutes had not been identified when this restriction was imposed in 2002 and although less hazardous substitute solder alloys have since been found, their impact was not known until some years after the RoHS lead ban.

The impact of lead solder substitutes is now known because the US EPA carried out a life cycle assessment which shows that neither lead solders nor lead-free solders are clear "winners" overall as they each have different impacts.

REACH restrictions are based on lengthy risk assessments that consider research into the impact of the substance in its entire life cycle and also the possible alternatives. This also considers the control measures used by industry to minimize risk and social and economic issues. REACH restrictions are likely to be application specific where a risk is identified although total bans are also possible.

The other main difference is that RoHS bans substances present in electrical equipment that is within the scope of this directive. REACH affects all chemicals including those used to make the equipment (alloys, solvents, paints, etc.) and chemicals present in finished products of all types. There are very few exclusions and exemptions.

Monday, September 26, 2011

PRX International Corporation

Company Profile »

PRX International Corporation is a worldwide manufacturer and supplier to some of the largest OEM companies in North America, Asia and Europe. PRX’S commitment to quality, new processing and state of the art test equipment assures that the company will continue to deliver exceptional products that meet customer needs and expectations in both the present and the future. All PRX’s Manufacturing facilities are ISO 9001:2000 certified and all products comply with the requirements of EU Directive 2002/95/EC (RoHS).

PRX International Corporation is committed to providing its customers reliable quality products, quick on time deliveries, as well as the highest level of customer service.
We recognize that our customer’s profitability is directly linked to our ability to supply quality products on time and at competitive prices.