Wednesday, March 9, 2011



Figure shows the circuit of a simple crystal tester. It switches on a light emitting diode (LED) if the crystal is working.

The crystal under test is placed in an oscillator circuit. If it is working, an RF voltage will be present at the collector. This is rectified (converted to DC) and made to drive a transistor switch. Applying current to the base causes current to be drawn through the collector, thus lighting the LED.

If an indication of frequency is required, simply use a general coverage receiver to locate the crystal oscillator's output. Note however that when testing overtone crystals (mostly those above 20 MHz) the output will be on the crystal's fundamental frequency, and not the frequency marked on the crystal's case. Fundamental frequencies are approximately one-third, one-fifth or one-seventh the overtone frequency, depending on the cut of the crystal.

The circuit may be built on a small piece of matrix board and housed in a plastic box. Alternatively, a case made from scrap printed circuit board material may be used. Either a selection of crystal sockets or two leads with crocodile clips will make it easier to test many crystals quickly. The RF choke is ten turns of very thin insulated wire (such as from receiver IF transformers) passed through a cylindrical ferrite bead. Its value does not seem to be particularly critical, and a commercially-available choke could probably be substituted.

The circuit can be tested by connecting a crystal known to work, and checking for any indcation on the LED. A shortwave transistor radio tuned near the crystal's fundamental frequency can be used to verify the oscillator stage's operation. Note however that this circuit may be unreliable for crystals under 3 MHz, and some experimentation with oscillator component values may be required.

The crystal checker also tests ceramic resonators. Other applications include use as a marker generator for homebrew HF receivers (use a 3.58 MHz crystal) and as a test oscillator for aligning equipment.

Figure Two:

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