I was going through my e-mails for some information on atomic frequency standards, when I came across an e-mail that I had sent to Tom Van Baak in 2007 congratulating him for his family-friendly time dilation experiment. If you are not familiar with his work, I heartily recommend that you explore his precision-time-keeping webpage at LeapSecond.com. Continue reading
Last week I posted detailed construction information for my rubidium atomic clock frequency reference. Besides that unit, I also built a GPS-disciplined 10 MHz oscillator to serve as a secondary frequency reference, as well as a source of GPS NMEA data for my ham shack instruments that can use precise location and real-time-clock data (e.g. for satellite tracking). Continue reading
Efratom Model M-100 Rubidium Frequency Standard (RFS) oscillators are widely available in the surplus market. Units on eBay commonly sell in the $150 to $200 range. Despite their low surplus price, they were originally very expensive components, with superb performance. The M100 was designed to be used by the military as a master oscillator in high-performance communication systems, frequency standard equipment, advanced navigation equipment, and all other systems which require extremely precise frequencies and time intervals.
With the proper input power provided and suitable cooling provisions, you can turn a surplus M-100 into a free-standing 10 MHz +/-5×10-11 (+/-5 x 10 ^-11 in case that your web browser doesn’t display the superscript font) frequency standard for frequency counters, as well as a precise calibration source. I use mine to keep precise track of frequency when working on Earth-Moon-Earth (EME) communications, where even tiny errors in tuning can make the difference between success and failure to receive weak echoes. Continue reading