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Published by: ramksree on Jun 12, 2012
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Evaluating Microstrip withTime Domain Reflectometry
Application Note 1304-1
2In the world of high-speed digital design, clock rates are increasing ata dramatic pace. Gigabit per second data rates are creating signalintegrity problems for printed circuit board structures such asbackplanes, microstrip traces and interconnects. While simulation toolsallow helpful insights into predicting structure performance, more testand measurement tools are needed to measure and verify the actualresponse to fast edge speeds. Time Domain Reflectometry is one of the tools used most frequently by digital design engineers to relate physical interconnect structures to such parameters ascharacteristicimpedance, reflection coefficient, propagation velocity and edge effects.This application note highlights experiments that were conducted onmicrostrip lines with various geometries. Printed circuit boards werefabricated with stubs and dividers to intentionally cause reflectionand crosstalk problems. The intent is to show examples of how torecognize and avoid some common problems associated with high-speed digital design.The time domain reflectometer (TDR) employs a step generator andan oscilloscope in a system which might be described as “closed-loopradar.” Refer to the figure below. In operation, a voltage step is propagated down the coax cable to the device under test (DUT). As an impedancediscontinuity is encountered in the DUT, someof the energy isreflected. Both the incident and reflected voltage wavesare monitoredon the oscilloscope at a particular point on the line.
Microstrip TransmissionLine Techniques,Evaluated Using TDRMeasurementsIntroduction
Demo Board3.5 mm SMA Cable
Time domain reflectometer.
For these examples, the incident voltage setup is a positive edge withan amplitude of 200 mV and a nominal risetime of 40 ps. It is generatedfrom a source impedance of 50-
and has an overshoot of 
3TDR reveals the characteristic impedance of the line under test.It shows both the position and the nature (resistive, inductive, orcapacitive) of each discontinuity along the line and signifies whetherlosses in a transmission system are series losses or shunt losses. An example of a microstrip line evaluated with TDR techniques isshown below:
TDR Example 1:
Board material:Norplex Type G-10Dielectric thickness:h = 0.062 inch;Copper thickness:t = 0.0014 inch;Dielectric constant: er= 5.3.
Figure 1A. Microstrip circuit example 1
 A printed circuit board was fabricated as shown in Figure 1A to thedimensions specified above. Figures 1B and 1C show the incident andreflected waveforms observed with the TDR. The vertical scale canbe calibrated in terms of voltage (mV), reflection coefficient (
orimpedance (ohms). The horizontal scale can be expressed in eithertime or distance. The equation for characteristic impedance of theline is:1 +
(1)Zline= ——— Zreference,1 –
where: Zline= characteristic impedance of the line under test,and Zreference= impedance of the known line.
The mean level of the reflected waveform due to the line has a
= 1.08% = 0.0108 (see Figure 1B). Substituting values into equation 1 permits calculation of the line impedance:1 + 0.0108(2)Zline= ————–– • 50-
= 51.1-
,1 – 0.0108which agrees closely with the measured value shown in Figures 1Band 1C.
4.5"InputConnectorGround PlaneUnderneathLine forZ = 50-
oTermination Resistor =50-
(with short leads)PCBoardContinuousGround Plane

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