I am trying to build a simple 32kHz crystal oscillator but I am seeing something strange. I am using a simple circuit in that the crystal is in feedback around a current starved inverter.

However, I am seeing something strange. The frequency of operation is correct but at edge of the clock, there a multiple transitions before it finally stays high (or low). I.e. the voltages are bouncing"

scope output

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    \$\begingroup\$ Post links to oscilloscope output and to schematic and we'll edit them into the post. \$\endgroup\$
    – AndrejaKo
    Commented Jun 1, 2012 at 17:26
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    \$\begingroup\$ That behavior is called 'ringing', if i interpret your description correctly. \$\endgroup\$
    – dext0rb
    Commented Jun 1, 2012 at 17:37
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    \$\begingroup\$ Also, please post a photograph of your circuit and scope probe. \$\endgroup\$
    – markrages
    Commented Jun 1, 2012 at 17:56
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    \$\begingroup\$ I'm not confident enough to post this as an answer, but empirically I have found 32kHz crystals to be extremely sensitive to additional load capacitance and/or any form of resistive load. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jun 1, 2012 at 18:13
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    \$\begingroup\$ I would say its not ringing but chatter due to slow rising edges on inputs to your inverters. Are you using Schmitt-trigger inverters? A schematic of your complete circuit is needed to give any more certain analysis. \$\endgroup\$
    – The Photon
    Commented Jun 1, 2012 at 22:33

1 Answer 1


If the metal can of oscillator is not grounded, then it works as a capacitive load parallel to crystal. The MHz bursts are probably matching the time delay of second positive feedback of invertor when this capacitance is involved.


Replace crystal with 2-10pF variable cap and see if the oscillations will match the frequency of bursts.

Answer: Ground the can. It will move bursts to GHz. Also the crystal pins can be grounded through small capacitors.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Thank you for the response. I am assuming that by can you mean the housing of the crystal...correct? There already pulling capacitors in parrallel with the crystal that go to ground. \$\endgroup\$
    – user10090
    Commented Jun 2, 2012 at 0:58
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    \$\begingroup\$ Yes. The housing. Another mistake can be driving the crystal with too high power. The typical power should be in microwatt range. The crystal can be destroyed mechanically by milliwatt power. \$\endgroup\$
    – user924
    Commented Jun 2, 2012 at 1:07

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