[time-nuts] Performance verification for time counters

Leo Bodnar leo at leobodnar.com
Wed Nov 29 16:24:55 EST 2017

I am looking for an established and widely accepted procedure for verifying performance of high resolution time counters.

I have designed a time stamping counter for qualifying 1PPS signal performance against external reference (e.g. 10MHz master clock.)

Simple design verification check I am doing at the moment is gating random selection of master clock edges back into device's signal input and letting the device measure this test signal offset against its reference clock - which, for ideal design, should result in zero offset (modulo 100ns.)  My results are roughly in line with what I expect to see http://leobodnar.com/balloons/NTP/time-sampler-test1.png

Now, what would be recognised procedure for sweeping external input pulse delay over few hundred ns in a controlled, measurable and repeatable way? 

I can see few naïve approaches:
1) Using selectively gated (or divided) reference clock followed by adjustable delay line.  E.g. something like mechanically adjusted delay lines used in HP test sets.  Or, perhaps, calibrated rigid coax sections?  
2) Slightly offset another master clock (e.g. second Rb oscillator) gated in a similar way but without delay line, followed by statistical data analysis 
3) Trusted pulse generator with high resolution delay adjustment fed from the same master clock as the counter 

I am looking for something with ~10ps accuracy, 100ns+ range, and reasonably low jitter (~5ps or better.)  
It is possible that the range needs to be split up (e.g. fixed rigid coax delay line followed by a mechanically adjust section.)

This is a low budget fun project so something simple and common sense is preferred to "price on application" NIST traceable equipment.


More information about the time-nuts mailing list