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Module 9 - Introduction to Wave-Generation and Wave-Shaping
Navy Electricity and Electronics Training Series (NEETS)
Chapter 2:  Pages 2-11 through 2-20

NEETS   Module 9 − Introduction to Wave− Generation and Wave−Shaping

Pages i, 1−1, 1−11, 1−21, 1−31, 1−41, 2−1, 2−11, 2−21, 2−31, 3−1, 3−11, 3−21, 3−31, 3−41, 3−51, 4−1, 4−11, 4−21, 4−31, 4−41, 4−51, Index

NEETS Modules
- Matter, Energy, and Direct Current
- Alternating Current and Transformers
- Circuit Protection, Control, and Measurement
- Electrical Conductors, Wiring Techniques, and Schematic Reading
- Generators and Motors
- Electronic Emission, Tubes, and Power Supplies
- Solid-State Devices and Power Supplies
- Amplifiers
- Wave-Generation and Wave-Shaping Circuits
- Wave Propagation, Transmission Lines, and Antennas
- Microwave Principles
- Modulation Principles
- Introduction to Number Systems and Logic Circuits
- - Introduction to Microelectronics
- Principles of Synchros, Servos, and Gyros
- Introduction to Test Equipment
- Radio-Frequency Communications Principles
- Radar Principles
- The Technician's Handbook, Master Glossary
- Test Methods and Practices
- Introduction to Digital Computers
- Magnetic Recording
- Introduction to Fiber Optics
Note: Navy Electricity and Electronics Training Series (NEETS) content is U.S. Navy property in the public domain.

advantage of the common-emitter configuration is that the medium resistance range of the input and output simplifies the job of impedance matching.

Q-6.   What type of feedback aids an input signal?

Q-7.   What are the two methods used for feedback coupling?

Q-8.   Which oscillator uses a tickler coil for feedback?

Q-9.   Which oscillator uses a tapped inductor for feedback?

Q-10.   Which oscillator uses tapped capacitors for feedback?

Q-11.   What are the three basic configurations of transistor oscillators?

Oscillator Circuits

Oscillators may be classified by name, such as Armstrong, Hartley, Colpitts, or by the manner in which dc power is applied. An oscillator in which dc power is supplied to the transistor through the tank circuit, or a portion of the tank circuit, is said to be Series FED. An oscillator which receives its dc power for the transistor through a path separate and parallel to the tank circuit is said to be PARALLEL FED OR Shunt FED. All the oscillators in this chapter can be constructed either way, series or shunt fed. The construction depends on the characteristics of the oscillator circuit the designer is interested in.

A Series-FED, Tuned-Collector ARMSTRONG Oscillator is illustrated in figure 2-9, view (A). The dc path is from the negative side (ground) of VCC  through RE, Q1, T1, and back to the positive side of VCC. The figure clearly illustrates that both the ac and dc components flow through the tank circuit.

Series- and shunt-fed, tuned-collector Armstrong oscillators. Series-FED - RF Cafe

Figure 2-9A. - Series- and shunt-fed, tuned-collector Armstrong oscillators. Series-FED.


By modifying the circuit slightly, it becomes a Shunt-FED, Tuned-Collector ARMSTRONG Oscillator as shown in view (B). The dc component flows from ground through RE to Q1 to positive VCC. The dc is blocked from the tank circuit by capacitor C2. Only the ac component flows in the tank circuit.

Series- and shunt-fed, tuned-collector Armstrong oscillators. Shunt-FED - RF Cafe

Figure 2-9B. - Series- and shunt-fed, tuned-collector Armstrong oscillators. Shunt-FED.

The function of an oscillator is to produce a sinusoidal waveshape of a specific frequency and amplitude. In doing so, the stability of an oscillator is very important. Depending on its application, an oscillator may be required to have either good frequency stability or amplitude stability; in many circumstances, both are required. Of the two, good frequency stability is usually considered more important.


The Frequency STABILITY of an oscillator is a measure of the degree to which a constant frequency output is approached. The better the frequency stability, the closer the output will be to a constant frequency.

Frequency INSTABILITY (variations above and below the desired output frequency) may be caused by transistor characteristics or by variations in the external circuit elements.

As stated before, when output power is not of prime importance, transistor oscillators may be biased class a to ensure stability and minimize distortion. When this is done, the dc operating point established by the power supply is chosen so that the operation of the transistor oscillator occurs over the most linear portion of the transistor's characteristic curve. When the operation of the circuit falls into the nonlinear portion of the characteristic curve, the transistor's parameters (voltages and currents) vary. These parameters are basic to the stable frequency of the transistor oscillator. Operating frequency variations may occur with changes in these bias voltages. Thus, a constant supply voltage is a prime requirement for good frequency stability.

The use of a common bias source for both collector and emitter electrodes results in a relatively constant ratio of the two voltages. In effect, a change in one voltage is somewhat counteracted by the change in the other. This counteraction takes place because an increase in collector voltage causes an


increase in the oscillating frequency, and an increase in emitter voltage causes a decrease in the oscillating frequency. This is a result of the change in capacitance between the junctions of the transistor. However, a common bias source does not completely compensate since the effects on other circuit parameters of each bias voltage differ.

Just as in any transistor circuit, changes in the transistor operating point and changes in temperature are encountered in the transistor oscillator. The effects of changes in temperature are to cause collector current to increase if the transistor is not stabilized. The increase in collector current can be prevented by reducing the forward bias.


The Amplitude STABILITY of a transistor oscillator indicates the amount by which the actual output amplitude varies from the desired output amplitude.

The same parameters (voltages and currents) that affect frequency stability also affect amplitude stability. Output amplitude may be kept relatively constant by ensuring that the feedback is large enough that the collector current is maintained at the proper level. Feedback used in this manner makes the output voltage directly proportional to the supply voltage. Thus, regulation of the supply voltage ensures good amplitude stability.

ARMSTRONG Oscillator

The ARMSTRONG Oscillator is used to produce a sine-wave output of constant amplitude and of fairly constant frequency within the RF range. It is generally used as a local oscillator in receivers, as a source in signal generators, and as a radio-frequency oscillator in the medium- and high-frequency range.

The identifying characteristics of the Armstrong oscillator are that (1) it uses an LC tuned circuit to establish the frequency of oscillation, (2) feedback is accomplished by mutual inductive coupling between the tickler coil and the LC tuned circuit, and (3) it uses a class C amplifier with self-bias. Its frequency is fairly stable, and the output amplitude is relatively constant.

Views (A), (B), and (C) shown in figure 2-10 can be used to build the basic Armstrong oscillator. View (A) shows a conventional amplifier. R2 provides the forward bias for Q1, C2 is a coupling capacitor, and L1 and R1 form the collector load impedance. This is a common-emitter configuration which provides the 180-degree phase shift between the base and collector.

Basic Armstrong oscillator circuit. Amplifier - RF Cafe

Figure 2-10A. - Basic Armstrong oscillator circuit. Amplifier


Basic Armstrong oscillator circuit. FREQUENCY-Determining DEVICE - RF Cafe

Figure 2-10B. - Basic Armstrong oscillator circuit. Frequency-Determining DEVICE.

Basic Armstrong oscillator circuit. Feedback Network - RF Cafe

Figure 2-10C. - Basic Armstrong oscillator circuit. Feedback Network.

Basic Armstrong oscillator circuit. OSCILLATOR - RF Cafe

Figure 2-10D. - Basic Armstrong oscillator circuit. Oscillator.

View (B) shows the frequency-determining device composed of inductor L2 and capacitor C1. C1 is a variable tuning capacitor which is used to adjust the resonant frequency to the desired value.

View (C) is the feedback network which uses L1 (the collector load) as the primary and L2 as the secondary winding of a coupling transformer to provide a 180-degree phase shift. Variable resistor R1 controls the amount of current through L1. When R1 is adjusted for maximum resistance, most of the current flows through L1. The transformer now couples a maximum signal which represents a large feedback amplitude into the tank circuit (L2, C1). If R1 is adjusted for a smaller resistance, less current


flows through L1, and less energy is coupled to the tank circuit; therefore, feedback amplitude decreases. R1 is normally adjusted so that the L1 current is adequate to sustain tank oscillations.

View (D) shows the complete oscillator circuit. Connecting the feedback network through coupling capacitor C2 to the base of Q1 forms a "closed loop" for feedback (shown by the solid arrows). Let's verify that the feedback is regenerative. Assume a positive signal on the base of Q1. The transistor conducts heavily when forward biased. This current flow through L1 and R1 causes the voltage across L1 to increase. The voltage increase is inductively coupled to L2 and inverted. This action ensures that the voltage is positive at the base end of L2 and C1 and in phase with the base voltage. The positive signal is now coupled through C2 to the base of Q1. The regenerative feedback offsets the damping in the frequency-determining network and has sufficient amplitude to provide unity circuit gain.

The circuit in view (D) has all three requirements for an oscillator: (1) amplification, (2) a frequency- determining device, and (3) regenerative feedback. The oscillator in this schematic drawing is a tuned- base oscillator, because the FDD is in the base circuit. If the FDD were in the collector circuit, it would be a tuned-collector oscillator. The circuit in view (D) is basically an Armstrong oscillator.

Refer to figure 2-10, view (D), for the following discussion of the circuit operation of the Armstrong oscillator. When VCC  is applied to the circuit. a small amount of base current flows through R2 which sets the forward bias on Q1. This forward bias causes collector current to flow from ground through Q1, R1, and L1 to +VCC. The current through L1 develops a magnetic field which induces a voltage into the tank circuit. The voltage is positive at the top of L2 and C1. At this time, two actions occur. First, resonant tank capacitor C1 charges to this voltage; the tank circuit now has stored energy. Second, coupling capacitor C2 couples the positive signal to the base of Q1. With a positive signal on its base, Q1 conducts harder. With Q1 conducting harder, more current flows through L1, a larger voltage is induced into L2, and a larger positive signal is coupled back to the base of Q1. While this is taking place, the frequency- determining device is storing more energy and C1 is charging to the voltage induced into L2.

The transistor will continue to increase in conduction until it reaches saturation. At saturation, the collector current of Q1 is at a maximum value and cannot increase any further. With a steady current through L1, the magnetic fields are not moving and no voltage is induced into the secondary.

With no external voltage applied, C1 acts as a voltage source and discharges. As the voltage across C1 decreases, its energy is transferred to the magnetic field of L2. Now, let's look at C2.

The coupling capacitor, C2, has charged to approximately the same voltage as C1. As C1 discharges, C2 discharges. The primary discharge path for C2 is through R2 (shown by the dashed arrow). As C2 discharges, the voltage drop across R2 opposes the forward bias on Q1 and collector current begins to decrease. This is caused by the decreasing positive potential at the base of Q1.

A decrease in collector current allows the magnetic field of L1 to collapse. The collapsing field of L1 induces a negative voltage into the secondary which is coupled through C2 and makes the base of Q1 more negative. This, again, is regenerative action; it continues until Q1 is driven into cutoff.

When Q1 is cut off, the tank circuit continues to flywheel, or oscillate. The flywheel effect not only produces a sine-wave signal, but it aids in keeping Q1 cut off. Without feedback, the oscillations of L2 and C1 would dampen out after several cycles.

To ensure that the amplitude of the signal remains constant, regenerative feedback is supplied to the tank once each cycle, as follows: As the voltage across C1 reaches maximum negative, C1 begins discharging toward 0 volts. Q1 is still below cutoff. C1 continues to discharge through 0 volts and becomes positively charged. The tank circuit voltage is again coupled to the base of Q1, so the base voltage becomes positive and allows collector current to flow. The collector current creates a magnetic


field in L1, which is coupled into the tank. This feedback action replaces any lost energy in the tank circuit and drives Q1 toward saturation. After saturation is reached, the transistor is again driven into cutoff.

The operation of the Armstrong oscillator is basically this: Power applied to the transistor allows energy to be applied to the tank circuit causing it to oscillate. Once every cycle, the transistor conducts for a short period of time (class C operation) and returns enough energy to the tank to ensure a constant amplitude output signal.

Class C operation has high efficiency and low loading characteristics. The longer Q1 is cut off, the less the loading on the frequency-determining device.

Figure 2-11 shows a tuned-base Armstrong oscillator as you will probably see it. R3 has been added to improve temperature stability. Bypass capacitor C3 prevents degeneration. C4 is an output coupling capacitor, and impedance-matching transformer T2 provides a method of coupling the output signal. T2 is usually a loosely coupled RF transformer which reduces undesired reflected impedance from the load back to the oscillator.

Tuned-base Armstrong oscillator - RF Cafe

Figure 2-11. - Tuned-base Armstrong oscillator.

The Armstrong oscillator is an example of how a class C amplifier can produce a sine-wave output that is not distorted. Although class C operation is nonlinear and many harmonic frequencies are generated, only one frequency receives enough gain to cause the circuit to oscillate. This is the frequency of the resonant tank circuit. Thus, high efficiency and an undistorted output signal can be obtained.

The waveforms in figure 2-12 illustrate the relationship between the collector voltage and collector current. Notice that collector current (IC) flows for only a short time during each cycle. While the tank circuit is oscillating (figure 2-11), L2 acts as the primary of the transformer and L1 acts as the secondary. The signal from the tank is, therefore, coupled through T1 to coupling capacitor C4, and the output voltage across L4 is a sine wave.


Collector current and voltage waveforms of a class C oscillator - RF Cafe

Figure 2-12. - Collector current and voltage waveforms of a class C oscillator.

HARTLEY Oscillator

The HARTLEY Oscillator is an improvement over the Armstrong oscillator. Although its frequency stability is not the best possible of all the oscillators, the Hartley oscillator can generate a wide range of frequencies and is very easy to tune. The Hartley will operate class C with self-bias for ordinary operation. It will operate class a when the output waveform must be of a constant voltage level or of a linear waveshape. The two versions of this oscillator are the series-fed and the shunt-fed. The main difference between the Armstrong and the Hartley oscillators lies in the design of the feedback (tickler) coil. a separate coil is not used. Instead, in the Hartley oscillator, the coil in the tank circuit is a split inductor. Current flow through one section induces a voltage in the other section to develop a feedback signal.

Series-Fed Hartley Oscillator

One version of a Series-FED HARTLEY Oscillator is shown in figure 2-13. The tank circuit consists of the tapped coil (L1 and L2) and capacitor C2. The feedback circuit is from the tank circuit to the base of Q1 through the coupling capacitor C1. Coupling capacitor C1 prevents the low dc resistance

of L2 from placing a short across the emitter-to-base junction and resistor RE. Capacitor C3 bypasses the sine-wave signal around the battery, and resistor RE  is used for temperature stabilization to prevent thermal runaway. Degeneration is prevented by CE  in parallel with RE. The amount of bias is determined by the values of RB, the emitter-to-base resistance, the small amount of dc resistance of coil L1, and the resistance of RE.

Series-fed, tuned-base Hartley oscillator - RF Cafe

Figure 2-13. - Series-fed, tuned-base Hartley oscillator.


When a voltage is applied to the circuit, current from the battery flows through coil L1 and to the emitter through RE. Current then flows from the emitter to the collector and back to the battery. The surge of current through coil L1 induces a voltage in coil L2 to start oscillations within the tank circuit.

When current first starts to flow through coil L1, the bottom of L1 is negative with respect to the top of L2. The voltage induced into coil L2 makes the top of L2 positive. As the top of L2 becomes positive, the positive potential is coupled to the base of Q1 by capacitor C1. a positive potential on the base results in an increase of the forward bias of Q1 and causes collector current to increase. The increased collector current also increases the emitter current flowing through coil L1. Increased current through L1 results in more energy being supplied to the tank circuit, which, in turn, increases the positive potential at the top of the tank (L2) and increases the forward bias of Q1. This action continues until the rate of current change through coil L1 can no longer increase. The current through coil L1 and the transistor cannot continue increasing indefinitely, or the coil and transistor will burn up. The circuit must be designed, by proper selection of the transistor and associated parts, so that some point is reached when the current can no longer continue to increase. At this point C2 has charged to the potential across L1 and L2. This is shown as the heavy dot on the base waveform. As the current through L1 decreases, the voltage induced in L2 decreases. The positive potential across the tank begins to decrease and C2 starts discharging through L1 and L2. This action maintains current flow through the tapped coil and causes a decrease in the forward bias of Q1. In turn, this decrease in the forward bias of Q1 causes the collector and emitter current to decrease. At the instant the potential across the tank circuit decreases to 0, the energy of the tank circuit is contained in the magnetic field of the coil. The oscillator has completed a half cycle of operation.

Next, the magnetic field around L2 collapses as the current from C2 stops. The action of the collapsing magnetic field causes the top of L2 to become negative at this instant. The negative charge causes capacitor C2 to begin to charge in the opposite direction. This negative potential is coupled to the base of Q1, opposing its forward bias. Most transistor oscillators are operated class A; therefore, the positive and negative signals applied to the base of Q1 will not cause it to go into saturation or cutoff. When the tank circuit reaches its maximum negative value, the collector and the emitter currents will still be present but at a minimum value. The magnetic field will have collapsed and the oscillator will have completed 3/4 cycle.

At this point C2 begins to discharge, decreasing the negative potential at the top of L2 (potential will swing in the positive direction). As the negative potential applied to the base of Q1 decreases, the opposition to the forward bias also decreases. This, in effect, causes the forward bias to begin increasing, resulting in increased emitter current flowing through L1. The increase in current through L1 causes additional energy to be fed to the tank circuit to replace lost energy. If the energy lost in the tank is replaced with an equal or larger amount of energy, oscillations will be sustained. The oscillator has now completed 1 cycle and will continue to repeat it over and over again.

Shunt-Fed Hartley Oscillator

A version of a Shunt-FED HARTLEY Oscillator is shown in figure 2-14. The parts in this circuit perform the same basic functions as do their counterparts in the series-fed Hartley oscillator. The difference between the series-fed and the shunt-fed circuit is that dc does not flow through the tank circuit. The shunt-fed circuit operation is essentially the same as the series-fed Hartley oscillator. When voltage is applied to the circuit, Q1 starts conducting. As the collector current of Q1 increases, the change

(increase) is coupled through capacitor C3 to the tank circuit, causing it to oscillate. C3 also acts as an isolation capacitor to prevent dc from flowing through the feedback coil. The oscillations at the collector

will be coupled through C3 (feedback) to supply energy lost within the tank.


Shunt-fed, tuned-base Hartley oscillator - RF Cafe

Figure 2-14. - Shunt-fed, tuned-base Hartley oscillator.

Q-12.   What is the main difference between the Armstrong oscillator and the Hartley oscillator?

Q-13.   What is the difference between the series-fed and the shunt-fed Hartley oscillator?

COLPITTS Oscillator

Both the Armstrong and the Hartley oscillators have a tendency to be unstable in frequency because of junction capacitance. In comparison, the COLPITTS Oscillator has fairly good frequency stability, is easy to tune, and can be used for a wide range of frequencies. The large value of split capacitance is in parallel with the junctions and minimizes the effect on frequency stability.

The Colpitts oscillator is very similar to the shunt-fed Hartley oscillator, except that two capacitors are used in the tank circuit instead of a tapped coil (figure 2-15). The Hartley oscillator has a tap between two coils, while the Colpitts has a tap between two capacitors. You can change the frequency of the Colpitts either by varying the inductance of the coil or by varying the capacitance of the two capacitors in the tank circuit. Notice that no coupling capacitor is used between the tank circuit and the base of Q1. Capacitors C1 and C2 of the tank circuit are in parallel with the input and the output interelement capacitance (capacitance between emitter, base, and collector) of the transistor. Thus the input and the output capacitive effect can be minimized on the tank circuit and better frequency stability can be obtained than with the Armstrong or the Hartley oscillator.


Colpitts oscillator - RF Cafe

Figure 2-15. - Colpitts oscillator.

Figure 2-16 shows a common-base Colpitts oscillator using a pnp transistor as the amplifying device. Notice in this version of the Colpitts oscillator that regenerative feedback is obtained from the tank circuit and applied to the emitter. Base bias is provided by resistor RB  and RF. Resistor R C  is the collector load resistor. Resistor RE  develops the input signal and also acts as the emitter swamping resistor. The tuned circuit consists of C1 and C2 in parallel with the primary winding of transformer T1. The voltage developed across C2 is the feedback voltage. Either or both capacitors may be adjusted to control the frequency. In the common-base configuration there is no phase difference between the signal at the collector and the emitter signal. Therefore, the phase of the feedback signal does not have to be changed. When the emitter swings negative, the collector also swings negative and C2 charges negatively at the junction of C1 and C2. This negative charge across C2 is fed back to the emitter. This increases the reverse bias on Q1. The collector of Q1 becomes more negative and C2 charges to a negative potential. This feedback effect continues until the collector of Q1 is unable to become any more negative. At that time the primary of T1 will act as a source because of normal tank circuit operation. As its field collapses, the tank potential will reverse and C1 and C2 will begin to discharge. As C2 becomes less negative, the reverse bias on Q1 decreases and its collector voltage swings in the positive direction. C1 and C2 will continue to discharge and then charge in a positive direction. This positive-going voltage across C2 will be fed back to the emitter as regenerative feedback. This will continue until the field around the primary of T1 collapses. At that time the collector of Q1 will be at a maximum positive value. C1 and C2 will begin to discharge and the potential at their junction will become less positive. This increases the reverse bias on Q1 and drives the collector negative, causing C1 and C2 to charge in a negative direction and to repeat the cycle.


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