[time-nuts] Programmable clock for BFO use....noise

Richard (Rick) Karlquist richard at karlquist.com
Sat Sep 15 11:38:55 EDT 2018

Another great posting from Attila that keeps the S/N ratio
on this list high.

On 9/15/2018 3:26 AM, Attila Kinali wrote:

> possible logic family for the task. Otherwise the harmonics of the
> switching of the FF will down-mix high frequency white noise down
> to the signal band (this is the reason for the 10*log(N) noise scaling
> of digital divider that Egan[1] and Calosso/Rubiola[2] and a few others
> mentioned).

Wow, I never knew this in 45 years of designing synthesizers!
I do remember that some of the frequency counter engineers at HP
talked about noise aliasing.  I think this is another way of
describing the same problem.

About 10 years ago, the frequency synthesizer chip vendors started
talking about a Figure of Merit (FOM) that predicted phase noise floor, 
and it also included the 10 LOG N noise scaling.  An application 
engineer at ADI told me this was a characteristic of the sampling phase 
detector that all these chips used.  But I always wondered if the 
frequency divider could come into play.  The way FOM is defined,
it doesn't distinguish between phase detector and divider noise.

At Agilent, we used to make a lot of lab demos using a Centellax
(now Microsemi AKA Microchip) frequency divider that could divide by any 
number between 8 and 511 up to 10 GHz.  It was absolutely fabulous for 
dividing 10 GHz down to 2.5 GHz.  But 20 LOG N quit working if I tried 
to divide down to 50 MHz.  Now you have explained it.
> If you divide by something that is not a power of 2, then it is important
> that each stage produces an output waveform with a 50% duty cycle. Otherwise
> flicker noise which has been up-mixed by a previous stage, will be down-mixed
> into the signal band, increasing the close-in phase-noise.

Wow, another thing I never knew.  The conventional wisdom was to
divide by any number (even or odd) and then follow that divider
with a divide by 2 flip flop to get 50%.  Now, that is in question.
The now correct answer is to us a variable modulus prescaler to
divide by P and P+1, controlled by a toggle flip flop to make
half the divisions at P and half at P+1.

Does anyone else have experience with these issues?

Rick N6RK

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