Pulse Stretcher - V2

Update: kicad files: 2014-07-23-pulse_stretcher_kicad

A development on pulse stretcher V1.

This circuit is used to stretch a short 10 ns pulse from a photon-counting module to a 100ns long pulse that can be more easily recorded or time-stamped e.g. with the white rabbit fine-delay FMC.


The new circuit is the same LT1711-based design as the old one, with an added buffer (BUF602) on the output. This improves output-load handling because the BUF602 can drive both 50 Ohm and 1 MOhm loads.

The PCB is made to fit a BNC-BNC enclosure by Pomona.



Some testing with an artificial input-pulse from a Keithley 3390 signal-generator..


.. and with the actual PMT-pulse. Note how the 100MHz scope produces nice round smooth signals while the 500 MHz Tektronix reveals more of the ugly truth.


Pulse Stretcher - v1

A first try at this pulse stretcher circuit based on the LT1711 comparator. I need it for stretching a short 10ns pulse from a PMT.


The idea is to use the output latch of the LT1711. Once the output goes high, the combination C4 R4 keeps the latch pin (and thus the output) high for a time R*C. The Schottky diode is there to prevent the latch pin from swinging to far negative once the output goes low.


The PCB is made to fit into a BNC-BNC enclosure such as the ones from Pomona.


Messing up the pin-order of voltage regulators is becoming a habit! Note how the regulator is mounted the wrong way round compared to the PCB design - because I had the pin order wrong in my schematic.


I used a Keithley 50 MHz function generator to generate a 20ns long input pulse (the shortest possible from the Keithley) and the pulse-stretcher outputs a ca 483 ns output pulse. The prototype used a 1 nF capacitor with a 500 Ohm resistor which gives a nominal time-constant of 500 ns. The output pulse duration is far from constant and varies quite a bit from pulse to pulse.


This verifies that the propagation delay of the LT1711 in this circuit is within specifications, ca 4.5 ns. In addition to the comparator there is also maybe 70 mm of BNC-connectors, wires, and PCB-traces in the signal path, but that would add only ~350 ps to the propagation delay (assuming 2e8 m/s signal velocity).

One problem with this design is that it is sensitive to the load impedance connected to the output. With a 1 MOhm setting on the oscilloscope the pulse-length is correct, but switching to a 50 Ohm load impedance allows the capacitor to discharge significantly through the load impedance.

Version 2 of this circuit should thus add an output buffer (fast, low-jitter!) that can drive both 1 MOhm and 50 Ohm loads. An adjustable trigger level for the -Input of the LT1711 comparator could also be useful.