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Crystal Oscillators Are Ready for Space

April 12, 2021
Space-qualified and B-Level crystal and SAW oscillators are available for immediate delivery in miniature packages at a fraction of the cost of fully qualified components.

Delays in electronic production lines too often limit the availability of components essential for electronic defense systems. System designers must choose their suppliers wisely, for fear of a source going out of business of a key component becoming obsolete. Fortunately, military and aerospace systems developers have learned to use commercial-off-the-shelf (COTS) parts that can be ruggedized to meet specifications for space and other hostile operating environments. As an example, Q-Tech Corp. recently made available space-qualified and B-level quartz crystal oscillators in a variety of packages. Having such rugged components ready to ship solves supply-chain problems in military, aerospace, and high-temperature applications requiring fully tested and performance-certified crystal oscillators. As an additional bonus, such oscillators are available at much lower costs than fully space-qualified components.

The in-stock oscillators include standard crystal oscillators (XOs), temperature-compensated crystal oscillators (TCXOs), oven-controlled crystal oscillators (OCXOs), and even surface-acoustic-wave (SAW) oscillators in compact housings (see figure). The space-qualified oscillators are screened to withstand damage from high levels of ionizing radiation, meeting compliance requirements within a total dose range 50 to 300 krad(Si) for radiation hardened (Rad Hard) components.

The B-Level components are produced according to the same quality standards but less costly than fully qualified devices undergoing extensive sets of qualification testing procedures. “While high-reliability crystal oscillators have a tremendous heritage for flight and non-flight applications, lead times are often critical in meeting urgent program needs,” said Scott Sentz, Q-Tech’s Director of Sales and Marketing. “By offering a broad range of readily available stock, Q-Tech is often in a position to fill this void.” 

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