Why Package Size Is Essential When Selecting the Right Frequency-Control Solution

When designing a circuit board, an engineer’s goal is to create the most efficient board possible. This is important for two primary reasons: first, overcrowding the circuit board or trying to work in items as an afterthought can lead to malfunctions; secondly, an oversized circuit board can also affect the project’s budget.

When it comes to timing solutions, engineers heed this logic to avoid sizing mistakes. Generating frequency for any application is a highly nuanced process that is calculated in infinitesimally small measurements.

When a circuit board is overcrowded, it is almost inevitable that its frequency – typically derived from a clock oscillator – will be affected.

Without frequency, there is no timing solution. Therefore, engineers go to great lengths to find crystal oscillators with a small “form factor” or “package size” – an interchangeable set of terms that denote the size of the component.

Consider Your Overall Parameters, and Use a Search Filter to Find Available Sizes

Whether you’re searching for a real time clock to faithfully track time or a crystal oscillator that provides a signal to another device, one consideration among others is package size.

Other considerations include stability, what temperatures your device will be exposed to, the desired frequency, and whether the component needs to be rated for compliance (as in the automotive industry).

Each oscillator that provides a timing solution has certain parameters that the engineer can’t live without; however, those parameters may affect other characteristics of the component.

For example, you may insist on a particularly small package size to save room on your board for other features, and yet you want your product to operate under extreme weather conditions.

Unfortunately, to ensure that your device emits a strong frequency, the package size may be larger than you planned. This is the beauty – and the challenge – of engineering: you must always find ways to creatively give and take.

Fortunately, when you work with a sophisticated manufacturer of timing solutions, their inventory is likely available with a parametric search function that can help you filter out products that don’t meet your needs and provide an inventory of products that do.

A parametric search function will help you find the smallest package size possible while still delivering the other features you’ve imagined for your product.

What to Know About Frequency and Smaller Crystal Packages

Package size is not only a key factor that determines what other features are available in an oscillator, it also specifically determines the frequency.

Most manufacturers will recommend that you begin with frequency to understand available package sizes, or vice-versa because these two factors are inversely related.

Smaller packages have higher frequencies, while larger crystals have lower frequencies. This is similar to other surfaces that resonate and make a frequency.

Depending how much wine is in a glass, the higher or lower the sound will be when you tap a dinner fork against it. Frequency in an electronic product operates similarly. The package size for your timing solution will be highly dependent on the frequency at which you want your product to operate.

How to Find the Right Manufacturer When Considering the Size of Your Timing Device

There is an abundance of frequency-based solutions available online. We live in an age where electronic components are produced almost instantaneously to meet the great demand for many industries. However, to remain competitive, there are manufacturers in the marketplace today that sell counterfeit and inferior products.

It is important to vet the manufacturing company you are working with for your timing solution. The easiest and fastest way to vet a company that makes crystal-based timing solutions is to check out their list of distributors.

If their list of distributors is robust, it means they have made a positive impact on the marketplace and engineers trust their components. However, if it is difficult to find much information on the company, it may be that they either haven’t yet established themselves, or they are hoping to disguise their company’s origins – and the quality of their products.

It can also be useful to learn more about how long the manufacturing company has been in business. The right company will have a wealth of experience and will want to share that knowledge with engineers.

See if their website tells the story of the company’s experience, as well as whether they have a division for engineering support and resources. If so, you’ll know you can trust this manufacturer to provide the timing solution you need – at the right size.