[time-nuts] Rohde & Schwarz XSD 2.5 MHz crystal gone bad?

Michael Ulbrich mul at rentapacs.de
Sun Nov 20 18:49:54 EST 2016

Hi there,

I'm new to this list and have some interest in quartz crystal and
rubidium oscillators - GPS, NTP, PPS and "clock watching" in general ;-)

I snatched an R&S XSD frequency standard accompanied by an XKE frequency
controller. Found the manuals on KO4BB's site (Thanks a lot for that!
BTW there's a slight mix-up of pages in that some of the XKE pages have
found their way into the XSD manual).

My initial hope of a quick and easy restoration project faded a bit when
I looked at the XSD output frequency after heating up the oven. It was
off by about -1 * 10-5 and after cranking the fine tuning for some time
and having another look at the specs I realized that the frequency was
too far off to be dialed in by the fine tuning which only covers about
+/- 2 * 10-7.

Next step was to take apart the oven and check series capacitor,
oscillator and the crystal itself. I found that even the coarse
adjustment range of the cylindrical series capacitor (40 - 110 pF) would
not allow to pull the crystal to it's specified frequency. When
replacing the series cap by a ceramic and lowering the value to just
before the oscillation breaks down (about 10 pF) I managed to set the
oscillator frequency offset to  +2.5 * 10-6 at room temperature. But
even this will not suffice when taking into account that the frequency
will drop by a few parts in 10-5 (cf. XSD manual) when the oven heats up
to its operating temperature. I also checked some of the components on
the oscillator PCB which might have an influence on frequency but could
not find any fault.

The crystal itself is a disk of about 30 mm diameter mounted in a sealed
glass cylinder of about 38 mm dia. and 43 mm height. There is no socket
just 2 bare wires.. It does not show any visual signs of damage.
According to a reference given in the R&S XSD manual the crystal's
construction follows a publication from A.W. Warner "Design and
Performance of Ultraprecise 2.5-mc Quartz Crystal Units" in Vol 39,
Issue 5 of Bell Labs Technical Journal (Sept. 1960). According to that
it is an AT-cut 5th overtone design.

Now my questions:

a) Considering that this gear is about 50 years old, a "crystal gone
bad" situation shouldn't be that much of a surprise, right?  But could
there be any other cause of the "huge" frequency offset besides a bad
crystal? I would very much appreciate any idea that I could try to get
this baby back on spec.

b) if nothing else helps: Could any of you give me a hint about who
might be able to supply a spare crystal? I tried my directly reachable
contacts but unfortunately to no avail so far. Please consider that
similar crystals might also have found their way into other
manufacturer's constructions from that era - Sulzer, Racal, HP ... you
name it ...

Many thanks in advance!

Best regards ... Michael U.

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