How Oscillators Are Tested for Reliability and Quality

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Quartz Crystal Oscillators

Learn What Makes These Electronic Components So Valuable to Engineers

Oscillators are not made equally. This fact is due to two very important conditions: the manufacturer that built them and what component has been used to create the oscillator’s frequency. After all, that’s what an oscillator does – it generates a frequency, so that electronic functions can occur in both large and small applications. From wearables for fitness to GPS satellites, oscillators do their work to send and receive frequencies, thereby sending information. You can imagine how necessary a strong, stable frequency is in today’s world, which is largely driven by networking and communication across vast distances. 

If a manufacturer has a stringent testing and vetting process for its oscillators, that’s a leg up in the frequency game. However, it is also important to explore how that manufacturer has chosen to create a frequency in the first place. Find out how a deep consideration of these two factors creates reliable, high-performing electronic components, including the highest-quality frequency generator of all: the quartz crystal oscillator.


How Frequency Is Created in an Oscillator

Oscillators require a resonator to generate frequency. Think of it like this: one type of resonator is a ceramic resonator, which operates like a cavity that emits a single frequency while blocking others out. Imagine shouting into a cave and hearing your echo come out when it hits one of the cave walls, that’s how a ceramic resonator works. Resonators are essentially the surfaces upon which frequency is generated. 

There are several different kinds of resonating techniques; however, some are more effective than others. Ceramic resonators, surface acoustic waves (SAWS), and MEMs are common names that engineers come across when designing an oscillator. However, keep in mind that engineers want the most stable frequency possible. Each of the aforementioned resonators have benefits – like being able to generate a frequency in the first place – but they also have downsides. 

These downsides include: 

  • Inability to operate under a wide temperature range, rendering them useless in certain environments. 
  • Additional compensations and requirements built into their circuitry to help them work effectively. 
  • A significant drain on an electronic application’s battery life because they require a great deal of power to work well.
  • Frequencies that aren’t high-performing enough for stringent frequency requirements that certain applications need.


Why Quartz Crystal Is King

Fortunately, there is a superior resonator for any engineer’s frequency solutions that is effective and high-performing where these others are not. 

Quartz crystal, when used to generate a frequency, can operate under a wide temperature range and does not always require additional compensations. Quartz oscillators can be built quite simply. 

Additionally, quartz products are very durable, have low power requirements, and are favored by global technology companies for their high level of reliability. Essentially, quartz crystal succeeds where other resonators fail.


How Reliability and Quality Are Tested in Quartz Crystal Oscillators

The reason why engineers use quartz crystals with certainty is because they’ve been used to generate frequency for a long time and have proved their value in circuit boards across the world. Where other resonating techniques may come and go, quartz has staying power. 

This certainty is backed by evidence, of course. When manufacturers are testing a quartz crystal oscillator, they run it through extremely rigorous tests to ensure it works well – this is just a good engineering practice. However, not every manufacturer follows such principles. 

Luckily, the manufacturers that have committed to sound practices typically adopt the following procedures:

  • Shock and vibration
  • Solderability and suitability for a circuit board
  • Humidity
  • Resistance to soldering heat
  • Storage in high and low temperatures
  • Significant shifts in temperature range
  • Strength of lead wires 


The Frequency Technique Matters – But the Manufacturer Matters Even More

Manufacturers run these processes before they’ve sold their quartz crystal oscillator product, so that they know it operates as expected and delivers the frequency solution the engineer requires. Some manufacturers run additional tests that benefit engineers looking for the most stable and strongest frequency for their applications. 

Certain crystal products get better with age and begin to perform at their best after they’ve been operated for a period of time. A manufacturer that wants to deliver the best will run these crystal oscillators and “age” them before they’re shipped to the engineer. This is yet another way that the right manufacturer can deliver a superior product – if they are committed to the engineers they serve and advancing the sciences in general.

Learn more about quartz crystal oscillators by connecting with a global manufacturer of frequency solutions that’s been in business for several decades and consistently provides products for a wide variety of industries. This is the kind of manufacturer that comprehensively tests its products. When you find a manufacturer like this, engineers in the frequency marketplace benefit the most.

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