60 kHz Preamp: Simulation

This circuitry descends directly from a QEX article (Nov/Dec 2015, p 13) by John Magliacane, KD2BD: A Frequency Standard for Today’s WWVB. The key part, at least for me, is a 60 kHz preamplifier using a resonant-tuned loop antenna and an instrumentation amplifier to reject common-mode interference from local electrostatic fields.

I tinkered up an LTSpice IV simulation using somewhat more contemporary parts (clicky for more dots):

60 kHz Preamp - LTSpice schematic
60 kHz Preamp – LTSpice schematic

The simulation quickly revealed that the original schematic interchanged the filter amp’s pins 2 and 3; the filter doesn’t work at all when you swap the + and – inputs.

The stuff in the dotted box fakes the loop antenna parameters, with a small differential AC signal that injects roughly the right voltage to simulate a nominal 100 µV/m WWVB field strength. I biased the center tap to the DC virtual ground at + 10 V and bypassed it to circuit common, so the RF should produce a nice differential signal about the virtual ground. The 5 kΩ resistors provide ESD protection and should help tamp down damage from nearby lightning strikes and suchlike.

It works pretty much as you’d expect:

60 kHz Preamp - Frequency Response
60 kHz Preamp – Frequency Response

The LT1920 is mostly flat with 40 dB gain out through 60 kHz, although the actual hardware becomes a nice oscillator with that much gain; my layout and attention to detail evidently leaves a bit to be desired. The LF353 implements a multiple-feedback bandpass filter with about 20 dB of gain; its 4 MHz GBW gives it enough headroom. The LT1010 can drive 150 mA and, with a bit of luck and AC coupling, will feed a 50 Ω SDR input just fine.

This obviously turns into a Circuit Cellar column: March 2017, if you’re waiting by the mailbox.