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Capacitance value for PIC crystal

Discussion in 'Electronic Design' started by P E Schoen, Jun 6, 2013.

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  1. P E Schoen

    P E Schoen Guest

    For most of my projects I use either a 14.7456 MHz crystal (57600*256) or
    20.000 MHz (for USB 96 MHz 24*f/5). The 20 MHz crystal I am using specifies
    a 20 pF parallel load, but my boards have 12 pF capacitors. I just noticed
    this and I think the value had been selected for a previous brand of
    crystal, but the oscillator frequencies measure pretty close to the ideal
    value, as follows for five boards:

    Board 1: 20.00258 +0.013% 130PPM
    Board 2: 20.00039 +0.002% 20PPM
    Board 3: 20.00068 +0.003% 30PPM
    Board 4: 20.00085 +0.004% 40PPM
    Board 5: 20.00073 +0.004% 40PPM

    My specification is 0.02%, or 200 PPM, so all are within spec, but perhaps
    with the 20 pF capacitors the frequency will be much closer and variation
    will be positive and negative. But the application notes I found seem a bit
    confusing as to the correct way to figure the load capacitance:

    It seems that the capacitance is determined by:

    CL = (CL1*CL2)/(CL1+CL2)+CS

    Where CL1 and CL2 are the load capacitors and CS is the stray capacitance,
    generally figured about 5 pF. So with my 12 pF capacitors the actual CL = 11
    pF and with 20 pF capacitors CL = 15 pF and with 47 pF capacitors (as I
    think I used at one time), CL = 28.5 pF. The ideal value appears to be 30
    pF. I don't know the actual stray capacitance, but it is a double sided
    board with 0805 SMT capacitors and a PIC18F4455 microcontroller in a TQFP-44
    package. It has a value of 15 pF or the OSC2 pin but this is characterized
    for external clock drive into OSC1.

    I think the 12 pF capacitors are OK but I think I will try changing to 20 pF
    and see if the frequency comes in closer. The crystal itself is rated 30 PPM
    and 100 PPM over the temperature range. Except for board #1, I'm just about

    But the CL formula seems a bit strange. Usually, when I see product over
    sum, its square root is taken, as for parallel resistors. And if one of the
    capacitors is zero, the other apparently has no effect, and that just seems

  2. John S

    John S Guest

    The parallel resistor equation does not use a square root.

    The equation you have is for series capacitors, Paul. That's what the
    crystal sees.

    John S
  3. P E Schoen

    P E Schoen Guest

    "John S" wrote in message
    Du-oh! I was thinking of the formula for impedance (or RMS from AC and DC
    Hmm. So it's like an LC tank circuit with the crystal acting as an
    inductance? OK, yes, that is shown in the equivalent circuit of the Fox
    application note.

    So, it looks like 30 pF capacitors may be just about right if the stray
    capacitance is 5 pF, but if it's 15 pF as noted in the Microchip spec, then
    the 12 pF may be just about right. Since it seems that I need to drop the
    frequency just a tad, maybe the 20 pF will be spot on. This may be a case
    where trial and error methods are needed.


  4. Jamie

    Jamie Guest

    If you're trying to be that critical, wouldn't a trimmer work best?

    I have some very small ceramic based types that live happy with surface
    mount constraints.

  5. rickman

    rickman Guest

    He's not trying to trim each board, he's trying to get the optimal
    capacitance to optimize the variations. The two capacitors are
    connected to ground. The crystal sees this as two capacitors in series
    since it only sees what is connected to it's pins. So the caps are in

    The crystal itself is a mechanically resonant device modeled as a
    complex LC circuit with both a parallel and a series capacitance along
    with some damping. Check out a few Xtal maker's web pages, there is
    usually a document explaining how they work. The external capacitance
    adds to the equivalent capacitance of the Xtal. They are typically
    designed to work with the specified amount of external capacitance
    across their pins.

    BTW, 20 pF in series with 20 pF is 10 pF plus the 5 pF stray gives 15 pF
    which you say is the amount specified by the Xtal maker. Is that not right?
  6. See appnote 949


  7. Robert Baer

    Robert Baer Guest

    I used two 18pf (one on each side of xtal to gnd).
  8. Robert Baer

    Robert Baer Guest

  9. Really, computer problems again?

  10. P E Schoen

    P E Schoen Guest

    "Martin Riddle" wrote in message
    The app note is marginally useful, but I think the easiest method is to
    start with something like 18-22 pF capacitors and measure the clock
    frequency directly (or better, via a separate pin derived from the clock).
    At least that's what I plan to do. YMMV.

    At least I found that the load capacitance value given by the manufacturer
    is NOT the recommended value for the two capacitors to ground, although it's
    a reasonable starting point and probably OK for most purposes.


  11. Robert Baer

    Robert Baer Guest

    Read the PDF, i dare you.
  12. Robert Baer

    Robert Baer Guest

  13. It's just Cs = 1/(1/C1 + 1/C2) = C1*C2/(C1+C2) series capacitance.
    For equal caps, multiply by two and subtract 5pF, round to the nearest
    5% or 10% value and you'll be close enough for a microcontroller
    clock xtal.

    Eg. 17pF->34pF-5pF = 29pF. I'd use 27pF.

    Sometimes start-up is enhanced by using different values for the load
    caps, haven't had to do that for a while (mostly because the micros
    and such like tend to have PLLs and/or dividers in them that allow
    the use of crystals in the ~4MHz-25MHz range regardless of what
    frequency is actually required).
  14. Guest

    Doesn't that thing use the Pierce topology where you have the PIC buffer output driving a 90o phase shift RC that also limits the crystal power dissipation as well as attenuates spurious oscillation modes, then the specified crystal capacitance is on the PIC buffer input to GND. Usually the 90o phase shift C is like more than 10x the crystal C and can be neglected. Also, the actual C used for the crystal accounts for the PIC buffer input capacitance ( is that 3-7 pF range?). Board stray is parallel to all this and adds to the physical crystal capacitors. Maybe use a trimmer on a test board and measure its setting when you hit the magic number. I'm pretty sure you'renot going to get standard capacitors to within 0.02% .
  15. (fixed useless double spacing of lines )
    He said 0.02% for the final frequency, not the capacitance tolerance!
  16. P E Schoen

    P E Schoen Guest

    Fred Bloggs wrote in message
    Yes, it uses a Pierce oscillator:

    The value of the capacitors has relatively little effect on the frequency,
    so a change from the 12 pF I have in the circuit now, to 27 pF (more than 2x
    the value, and probably close to ideal), will most likely change the
    frequency from an average of 20.00066 (boards 2-5) to the exact value of
    20.00000, which is a change of 0.0033% or 33 PPM. So the usual 5% capacitor
    tolerance will have no measureable effect on the frequency.

    It does appear that the proper point on the curve for specified parallel
    resonance is on a fairly steep slope, where a change of 10 pF can have as
    much as 200 PPM of frequency shift. From 50 pF to 100 pF the shift is only
    about 100 PPM, and flattens out at higher capacitor values, probably as it
    approaches series resonance. The "pullability" as stated by Fox is expressed
    in PPM/pF by:

    S = (C1 * 1000000) / (2 * Ct^2) where Ct is sum of Co + CL.

    Thus for the specified CL of 20 pF and Co of 20 pF and C1 of 27 pF this is
    8400 PPM/pF but this does not seem right.

    The design note for Statek gives

    TS = C1 / (2 * (C0+CL)^2) which is 0.0084. If that is percent, then it would
    be 84 PPM/pF which still seems high. However, I don't really know the value
    of C0. The app note further states that disregard for the trim capacitors
    may result in errors as much as 0.1%, or 1000 PPM, and for capacitance range
    of 100 pF this is more like 10 PPM/pF, which seems reasonable and is
    supported by the published curves. Perhaps C0 is much higher than 20 pF?

  17. Caps that value are usually "zero TC" anyway aren't they? (COG). I think
    it's probably more the TC of the crystal itself.
  18. P E Schoen

    P E Schoen Guest

    "Mike Perkins" wrote in message
    The ECS crystals I'm using are 100 PPM over -40 to +85 C, with initial
    tolerance of 30 PPM. Not bad for less than a dollar:

    You can get them with as little as 10 PPM tolerance and stability, for about
    $3 each:

    And these are impressive for about $0.40:

  19. Guest

    Another consideration is the phase delay introduced by the gates internal to the PIC. If these are running at say 10ns, that is 10/50 x 360=72o in addition to the 180o inversion. The Pierce allows for 90o from the crystal and points forward, so with the additional 72o, that leaves just 18o shift from the crystal. As the PIC gate Tpd moves around with temperature ( a minuscule amount), so does the phase shift across the crystal, and so does the loop frequency. If you model the crystal as series LC , all paralleled withload C, with assumed Q and look at phase versus delta-f/fo, that is chnagein phase as a function of ratio of frequency perturbation to resonant frequency ( the most popular plot), that will give an idea of how the oscillator loop frequency pulls with its phase shift.
    I think Co in that manufacturer's pulling equation is also called header capacitance, or the net capacitance between the metalization of the crystal and the conductive housing.
  20. Guest

    Right , IIRC the frequency shift relative capacitance shift is desensitized by sqrt(Q)- not going to do a bunch of algebra right now.
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