You need to test, we're here to help.

You need to test, we're here to help.

28 February 2022

A Robust Method for Measuring Clock Jitter with Oscilloscopes

Figure 1. Clock jitter measured as a variation
of clock signal absolute period.
Clock jitter is the variation of a clock signal’s frequency or period. Either measurement carries the same information, but the period measurement is a simple time interval measurement easily performed using a real-time oscilloscope. If we have a robust way of measuring clock jitter, we have the basis for measuring the clock signal’s sensitivity to other features in the environment that can affect the period. Voltage noise on the power rail is just one external force that can affect clock jitter, which we'll show you how to measure in a future post.

In this post, we’ll demonstrate a robust method for measuring clock jitter using an example from Dr. Eric Bogatin’s webinar, “The Impact of Power Rail Noise on Clock Jitter.”  

The clock in our examples is a 5-stage ring oscillator which generates a square wave signal between 10 and 66 MHz. The test instrument is a WavePro HD 12-bit, 4-Ch, 8 GHz, 20 GS/s, 5 Gpts oscilloscope with 60 fs sample clock jitter.

In the process, we make a series of oscilloscope sample clock tests and timebase adjustments as  consistency checks. While measuring jitter is less about absolute accuracy than about the relative precision of measuring the time interval from cycle to cycle, a fundamental part of that is ensuring the absolute accuracy of the oscilloscope’s timebase.

21 February 2022

9 Important Things to Know When Making Sensitive Measurements with Oscilloscopes

We've routinely posted on how you can characterize your total measurement system to gain important "situational awareness" when using an oscilloscope to make sensitive measurements. The knowledge gained from these tests helps you properly interpret your measurement results so that you can deduce what is actually going on with your circuit, versus what is an artifact of the measurement system. Listed here are nine important things you should know before making sensitive measurements with your oscilloscope, with links to blog posts that instruct you how to test them.

14 February 2022

Transmission Lines for Oscilloscope Users, Part 4

Figure 1: Characteristic waveform when the source
impedance is lower than the cable impedance.
In Part 3, we saw the pattern of reflections that occur when both the source impedance and the oscilloscope input impedance are higher than that of the interconnect, and how those reflections affected the rise time measurement. Now let’s briefly consider what happens when the source impedance is lower than the impedance of the connecting cable. 

For this example, the source voltage is a 3.3 V square wave and the source impedance is 9 Ω. As before, our transmission line is a 50 Ω coaxial cable connecting the source to the oscilloscope. If the oscilloscope input termination is set to 1 MΩ, we see the interesting waveform shown in Figure 1.

07 February 2022

Transmission Lines for Oscilloscope Users, Part 3

Figure 1: The Thevenin equivalent circuit model can be used
to characterize a voltage source with respect to the 
interconnect cable and oscilloscope input termination.
In Part 2, we demonstrated how to calculate the instantaneous impedance of a transmission line. However, any measurement made using an oscilloscope should consider not only the transmission line, but the source, the transmission line and the oscilloscope as a system. Therefore, characterizing your source, as well as knowing the effects of your oscilloscope input impedance, is important to developing the “situational awareness” needed to interpret measurements properly.

Two terms needed for us to characterize the source are the Thevenin source voltage and the Thevenin source resistance. Once we know these, we have all the pieces we need to fully understand what is happening with our measurements. This is true whether the signal source is a Cal terminal or a device-under-test.