This version (29 Jan 2024 19:13) was approved by Luc Perreault.The Previously approved version (29 Jan 2024 17:19) is available.Diff

Theory Of Operation

Input caps – bulk

The two large, polarized capacitors placed close to the VDD terminal act up as a close-by charge reservoir when a voltage source with long cables is being utilized. For most applications, these large caps would not be necessary. Input bulk capacitors

The amount of capacitance needed is function of numerous factors:

  • VDD power line noise,
  • Min/max allowable VDD voltage deviation,
  • Power supply response time,
  • Etc.

In other words, the capacitors network is optimized when designing the VDD power supply. Tools such as LTpowerCAD and LTspice can help with the supply optimization.

To power-up the circuit safely via the VDD power socket, it is strongly recommended to follow the steps below.

The bulk capacitors can remain charged for a significant amount of time after power down. To avoid injuries and/or damage to the board , it is important to:

  1. Leave the VDD terminal of the ADPULSERPLUS evaluation board floating
  2. Ensure external power source is set to 0V.
  3. Make sure the input caps are fully discharged by measuring the VDD voltage. It should read close to 0V. If charged still, you may connect a power resistor, 500Ω-1kΩ, between VDD and GND to provide a quicker discharge.
  4. Connect VDD source to the VDD connector.
  5. Gradually increase VDD voltage to desired value.
  6. Note for power-down: It is preferable to ramp-down the VDD power supply to 0V before turning off or disconnecting it. It will help discharge the bulk capacitors.

Drain Pulse Generator

Drain pulser circuit

The drain pulse generator comprises of the LTC7000A, a FET and the crowbar circuit (ADP3625 + FET). To pulse the drain, apply a 0-3.3V pulse onto the DRAIN_PULSE_ENABLE SMA connector. The pulse modulates the INP pin of the LTC7000A which, in turn, drives Q1 on and off. A high on DRAIN_PULSE_ENABLE turns on the FET and applies VDD onto the PA drain.

The turn-on time is controlled by the LTC7000A.TGUP signal and the amount of capacitance connected to the PA drain (VDD_PA signal). Too much capacitance on the PA drain rail can not only slow down the turn-on edges but also create large input current spikes on the line. To avoid such issues, it is recommended to keep the total amount of capacitance at the PA drain to less than 10nF.

The LTC7000A.TGDN pin controls the time it takes to turn off Q1. As for the time it takes to transition the PA drain from on to off, it is dependent on the amplifier itself unless the “crowbar circuit” is used. If not used, the “turn-off time” is function of the power amplifier itself. The amplifier acts as a resistive load. As soon as Q1 is off, the PA starts draining the capacitors on the rail. How fast is function of the drain voltage, PA IDD, PA off threshold and a few other parameters. It is preferable to test this behavior with the right PA. For a more predictable turn-off time, it is recommended to use the “crowbar circuit”. As the name implies, the “crowbar circuit” forces a fast discharge of the PA drain voltage by connecting it to ground via a low-resistance switch. Turn off times <1μs can be achieved with the crowbar circuit.

The selection of Q1 and Q2 could be optimized for a certain application type. Various characteristics would need to be consider such as drain voltage/current, max gate voltage, Vgs(th), etc.

The R3 placeholder can be used for evaluation of the drain pulser circuit without connecting a power amplifier. The DC power that can be dissipated from R3 is limited. It is important to operate the circuit in pulsed mode only. It is also recommended to use a pulse proof power resistor.

VDD_PA voltage sense

The PA drain voltage can be monitored via the VDD_PA_SENSE SMA connector (refer to "Drain pulser circuit" ). To measure, the test equipment connected can be terminated to either 50Ω or high-Z with limitations for each.

  • 50Ω terminated: 50Ω termination must not be used when the drain pulser is set to stay on for relatively long periods of time (ex. Gate pulsing). It will damage resistor R28 and the PCB. To use when drain pulsing with pulse width <300μs per recommended operating conditions.
    The conversion factor when 50Ω terminated is:



  • High-Z termination: Careful with added capacitance that form an R-C filter with R28. It may affect measurement accuracy.

PA Drain Current Sense

Power amplifier drain current sense circuits

There are two means of measuring the PA drain current on this evaluation board.

  1. Via the LTC7000A.IMON pin. It has the advantage of not requiring any additional circuitry for monitoring the current. However, its response time can be significantly slower and is limited to pulses with on-times greater than 20-30μs. The LTC7000A.IMON response can be faster than the 20-30us depending on the operating conditions.
    The LTC7000A.IMON voltage can be measured differentially across the IMONP and IMONN terminals with a high-impedance probe. To estimate the drain current from IMONP/N terminals:

    VIMONPVIMONN = (IDRAIN × 10mΩ × 200μA/V) × (100kΩ ⁄⁄ R56)

    Removing the 20kΩ resistor connected to LTC7000A.IMON pin, R56, allows a larger signal to be measured across IMONP/N at the expense of a slower response. The LTC7000A.IMON pin has 100kΩ of ROUT.

  2. Using the LT1999-10 current sense amplifier. It provides significantly faster response (<1μs) than the LTC7000A.IMON circuit but requires an additional IC. It can measure drain currents pulses down to the recommended 10μs on-time minimum.
    The measurement is done differentially across the ISNSP and ISNSN terminals using a high-impedance probe. Don’t try using a single-ended probe with ground terminal attached to ISNSN, ISNSN is NOT grounded. To convert:


    For more signal at the ISNSP/N terminals, the gain of the LT1999 can be increased by selecting either the LT1999-20, gain of 20, or LT1999-50), gain of 50. The gain increase comes at the expense of a slower response time.

To improve measurement accuracy, it is preferable to calibrate the current monitoring path. One approach would be to connect an electronic load on VDD_PA and setting the DRAIN_PULSE_ENABLE voltage to 3.3V to turn-on the VDD drain path.

The gain of both current sense paths gain be increased by substituting R9 for a higher value. R9 also controls the current limit of the circuit via the ECB function of the LTC7000A. Hence, it is appropriate to design the ECB first, then the current sense monitor circuit(s).

It is worth noting, neither current sense methods can accurately detect drain current during ON → OFF and OFF → ON transitions when drain pulsing. The current required to transition the VDD power path FET, Q1, is summed to the PA drain current. Only when the FET is fully on or off will the results be precise.

Electronic Circuit Breaker

Electronic circuit breaker The LTC7000A, in combination with R9 and Q1, has the capability to turn off the VDD power path if the current exceeds 6A typical for about 10-15μs. The circuit will automatically retry to start after a brief cooling period. The resistor off the LTC7000A.ISET pin can be substituted to modify the overcurrent protection threshold. Refer to the LTC7000A datasheet for details. The purpose of diode D1 is to clamp inductive kickbacks that may be seen when the ECB turns off Q1.

PA Gate Pulse Generator

The PA gate pulser consists of a negative supply, a level on/off gate level adjustment circuit and a driving amplifier. Gate pulse generator diagram

Negative converter

Negative power conversion circuit

There are three key stages to the negative converter:

  1. The LT8618 step-down converter is setup as a buck-boost inverter to generate a negative power rail from the main input power feed, VDD.
  2. The bead+ cap filter. This filter has two purposes:
    1. It helps attenuate the higher frequencies, outside of the rejection capability of the downstream linear regulator.
    2. The bead being highly inductive at frequencies below 10MHz, the bead-cap network acts up like a damp LC filter at lower frequencies. So, the bead-cap filter increases the power supply noise rejection capability at frequencies around Fsw.

      The series resistance, R32, is present to damp the quality factor of the bead+cap filter

  3. The linear regulator, LT3093, provides excellent supply noise rejection while keeping the noise it generates to a minimum (<1μVrms). Due to the wide range of use cases, it is important to keep noise on the power rail as small as it could.

Noise creation and rejection was a key aspect of the component selection. Similarly, various bypass options were included to allow users to better optimize the DC-DC conversion circuit for their use case. As example:

  • To bypass the LDO, populate R59 and R60 with jumpers. No need to depopulate LT3093. Although preferred, disabling the LDO by tying the LT3093.EN/UV pin to ground is optional.

Gate pulse generation

Gate pulse generation circuit

The dual opamps along with the SPST analog switch, ADG1401, form the gate pulse circuit. A logic low at the GATE_PULSE_ENABLE SMA connector forces a voltage equivalent to the desired pinch-off gate voltage at the PA gate signal. A logic 1, 3.3V, sets the PA gate voltage to the desired bias-voltage. And a pulse train on the GATE_PULSE_ENABLE SMA connector would generate pulses at the PA VGG signal between PA on (VBIAS) and PA off (VPINCH_OFF) PA gate voltage thresholds.

Amplifier A1a, ADA4896-2, is used as a buffer/level-shifter amplifier for the pinch-off threshold reference voltage. To set the pinch-off voltage, adjust R42 and R43 per equation:

VPINCH_OFF = VLT3093_VEE * R42 / (R42 + R43)

The eval is set to -5.0V VPINCH_OFF.

The on threshold, VBIAS, is controlled via the resistor divider network R45, R47 and potentiometer R46. It can be estimated using the following equation:

VBIAS = VPINCH_OFF × (R46 ⁄⁄ R47) / (R45 + R46 ⁄⁄ R47)

R46 is a 2k potentiometer. With the -5.0V default pinch-off voltage, the bias voltage can be adjusted over the range [-3.33V, -0.9V]. The upper limit is defined by the input common-mode voltage range of the buffer amplifier.

The ADG1401 state is controlled via the GATE_PULSE_ENABLE SMA connector. A logic 1 connects the resistor divider to ground, generating VBIAS which then is applied to the input of the gate driver amplifier. A logic 0 floats the resistor divider, connecting the output of amplifier A1a to the input of the gate driver and generating VPINCH_OFF.

Amplifier A1b, ADA4896-2, acts up as a buffer/driver between the capacitance that’s located on the PA VGG (VGG1) signal and the pulsed resistor network. The 50Ω output resistance is to help stabilize the buffer amplifier when capacitively loaded.

Gate pulse generation circuit when drain pulsing

When drain pulsing, the gate remains at VBIAS. A constant 3.3V can be applied to the GATE_PULSE_ENABLE connector. Another method would be to drive the gate signal directly from the LT3093 output. To do so:

  • R61 must be populated with a short circuit,
  • R54 uninstalled,
  • LT3093_VEE power rail (LT3093 LDO output) adjusted to meet the desired VBIAS voltage. Refer to the LT3093 datasheet on how to set the output voltage.


The actual sequencing of the power rails at the PA, drain and gate, are mainly controlled via state of the pulse SMA connectors, GATE_PULSE_ENABLE and DRAIN_PULSE_ENABLE. Despite that fact, the circuit is designed to follow a certain sequence if the two SMA connectors are left floating and power applied on VDD . The sequence is as follow:

  1. VDD ramps up.
  2. At VDD ≈ 2.9V, the negative converter turns on.
  3. GATE_PULSE_ENABLE defaults to a logic 0 when floating. That sets the gate voltage to VPINCH_OFF.
  4. At VDD ≈ 20V, the LTC7000A turns the power FET, Q1, fully on, connecting VDD to the PA drain.

The board was setup to facilitate gate pulsing usage by enabling the VDD/drain power path by default. If the preferred method is to keep the PA drain path off on start-up, either set DRAIN_PULSE_ENABLE to a logic 0 or, for a more permanent change, depopulate the pull-up resistor R12 and populate the termination resistor R13 off the INP pin. LTC7000A automatic turn-on circuit

resources/eval/developer-kits/pulser-plus/theoryofoperation.txt · Last modified: 29 Jan 2024 18:11 by Eamon Nash