[time-nuts] What interrupts aging?

Charles Steinmetz csteinmetz at yandex.com
Sun Feb 5 16:51:31 EST 2017

John wrote:

> We know of OCXO that have been continuously running for years and have
> exceptional aging, supposedly as a result.
> What does it take to interrupt that? A momentary loss of power?  The
> oven cooling down?  Some long period of off-time?  Or, once the
> oscillator has baked in will it return to that low aging once it has
> been powered up and thermally stabilized?

Short answer -- it all depends.  But it usually takes much less than 
you'd expect.

In my experience, supported by experimentation and by research into 
published and credible anecdotal sources, the aging of quartz 
oscillators often changes with little provocation (and in some cases, 
none at all that one can tell from external observations).  Sufficient 
provocaton can include the oven cooling down, trimming the frequency, 
physical shock (not necessarily very much -- sometimes just moving the 
OCXO from one place to another and setting it down pretty gently), or 
even a short loss of power.  In short, *any* electrical or physical 

The effects can range from a short period of settling with an asymptotic 
slope back to the neighborhood of the previously-established aging rate, 
all the way to beginning a completely new aging regime.  Not 
infrequently, even the sign of the aging rate changes.  Further, any 
given oscillator can react differently each time it is disturbed -- an 
oscillator that previously settled quickly back to the neighborhood of 
the previously-established aging may start a whole new aging regime the 
next time it is disturbed.

That said, OCXOs may exhibit trends, behaving at least somewhat 
consistently from one electrical disturbance to another (their reactions 
to physical disturbances are always less consistent, IME).

Best regards,


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