[time-nuts] Advice on 10 MHz isolation/distribution amplifier

life speed life_speed at yahoo.com
Thu Feb 11 03:03:34 UTC 2010

Avoiding transformers and inductors will make it virtually impossible to 
achieve very low phase noise as the dc gain from say the base of any 
transistor in the chain to the output will degrade the flicker phase 
noise. Using transformers or using an inductor to shunt any collector 
resistors reduces the flicker phase modulation to low levels.

JPL in the past has built capacitively coupled complementary symmetry 
isolation amplifiers that avoid transformers but suffer from dc loop 
gains of around 3 or so.

Using complementary symmetry can be a good way of keeping the dc current 

How much reverse isolation do you need?
How low does the phase noise floor need to be?
What about flicker phase noise, how low does that need to be?


Right, what do I really need? I only have a really good 10 MHz OCXO crystal oscillator to distribute, so about -120 dBc at 10 Hz, -140 dBc/Hz at 100 Hz, - 150 dBc/Hz at 1KHz, and -155 dBc/Hz noise floor.  No maser or cesium clock, living in the world of practical realities here.  Of course I would like to be 3 - 6 dB better than the OCXO numbers.

Reverse isolation is my primary interest in the distribution amplifier approach, although the OCXO is good enough that a sloppy approach could contaminate the phase noise also.  I would like to accomplish at least 100 dB reverse isolation at frequencies below 20 MHz, but more is better in this case.  The 10 MHz is running all over a noisy aircraft, to potentially noisy receivers.

In reading up on the subject, I have come to understand that DC gain is the bane of close-in phase noise.  Given that flicker noise is such a headache for we frequency synthesizer designers, I guess this should come as no surprise.

Clay (AKA Lifespeed)


More information about the time-nuts mailing list