mandag 3. april 2017

DCO saw core testing

I built the DCO saw core on a prototyping board Friday evening, and after some initial trouble, I got it working very well.

The core is heavily inspired by the Juno 6/60 DCO. The output of the MCU charges a capacitor, turning the output square wave into positive/negative spikes on each square wave edge. These in turn briefly switch on a transistor that discharges a capacitor. When the transistor is off, the capacitor is charged using a constant-current scheme where the cap is connected across an opamp (just like in a normal saw core VCO, see section "That old opamp trick again" of http://xonik.no/theory/vco/reference_current.html).

The Juno 60 uses a 2SA1015 PNP transistor. I tried replacing this with both a 2N3906 and a BC557, they both work very well.

MCU output pulse train (top) vs. transistor control spikes (bottom). top is 5V/square, bottom is 1V/square and shifted down to make both visible

I had no DAC available for the trial, so the charging current was regulated using a potentiometer as a voltage divider, buffering the output with an opamp and piping the result through a resistor to convert it to a current. After initially screwing up and connecting the center pin of the pot to ground, things started working very well.
A perfect 5v p-p saw wave generated from the pulse train on top. 

A few challenges still persist:

1) The output wave starts at 0 and goes downwards until it is reset. It has to be centered

2) My calculations are based on an assumption that the maximum voltage should be 5V. I completely forgot that it has to be 5V on each side of the wave, making the full wave 10Vp.p.

3) For some reason, the charging stops at -8V. Not sure if this is due to the opamp or something else, but it has to be fixed. The Juno 60 service manual says they have a 12Vp-p output, so it should be possible to fix this.
The charging of the cap maxes out at 8V (looks like 10V here but Y-offset was wrong).
4) Charging starts at the negative going edge of the MCU output wave while the MCU output wave is first high then low through the course of a cycle. This has to change, either in code or by replacing the PNP with an NPN transistor (The Juno 106 service manual says it uses an NPN but I couldn't get this working immediately. I'll look into it).

5) With a 100k charging current resistor, the charging current won't be strong enough for the highest frequencies. A 39k resistor may work (but not for a 10Vp-p wave).

6) I should check if a constant reset timer interval may work (e.g. not a 50/50 duty cycle for the MCU output wave). If so I'll save some clock cycles during frequency calculations.

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