Voltage-controlled oscillator

Posted on Feb 4, 2014

A voltage-controlled oscillator or VCO is an electronic oscillator designed to be controlled in oscillation frequency by a voltage input. The frequency of oscillation is varied by the applied DC voltage, while modulating signals may also be fed into the VCO to cause frequency modulation (FM) or phase modulation (PM); a VCO with digital pulse

Voltage-controlled oscillator
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output may similarly have its repetition rate (FSK, PSK) or pulse width modulated (PWM). Harmonic oscillators generate a sinusoidal waveform. They consist of an amplifier that provides adequate gain and a resonant circuit that feeds back signal to the input. Oscillation occurs at the resonant frequency where a positive gain arises around the loop. Some examples of harmonic oscillators are crystal oscillators and LC-tank oscillators. When part of the resonant circuit`s capacitance is provided by a varactor diode, the voltage applied to that diode varies the frequency. Relaxation oscillators can generate a sawtooth or triangular waveform. They are commonly used in monolithic integrated circuits (ICs). They can provide a wide range of operational frequencies with a minimal number of external components. Relaxation oscillator VCOs can have three topologies: 1) grounded-capacitor VCOs, 2) emitter-coupled VCOs, and 3) delay-based ring VCOs. The first two of these types operate similarly. The amount of time in each state depends on the time for a current to charge or discharge a capacitor. The delay-based ring VCO operates somewhat differently however. For this type, the gain stages are connected in a ring. The output frequency is then a function of the delay in each of stages. A disadvantage of harmonic oscillator VCOs is that they cannot be easily implemented in monolithic ICs. Relaxation oscillator VCOs are better suited for...

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