The Most Common Uses of Oscillators in Your Home Learn How Oscillators Provide Frequency Solutions You Depend On

Let’s walk through a typical morning routine. You wake up at the sound of your alarm. You check out the notifications on your phone, and send a text message you didn’t get to type before bed. When you get out of bed and walk into the kitchen, you hear your heater click on. It’s a cold morning today, and you’re glad you’ve set your thermostat to warm up the house while you’re in your bare feet and PJs. 

Ah, perfect, the coffee maker you set last night is already finishing its brew. Your smart watch on the table sends a notification that it’s time to begin counting your steps for today. You don’t live entirely in a digital world, so you open the front door and head out to grab the local paper, wrapped in its distinct, thin plastic wrapper that’s dotted with dew. 

As you head in with the paper under your arm, you see an unfamiliar car on the road. It slows down to a stop at one house, then immediately accelerates to another and stops again. Clearly it’s a delivery driver bringing something that someone forgot to pick up on their own last night. 

Kind of boring routine, isn’t it? Sure, but if you consider how this morning is almost entirely fueled by – not coffee – but crystal oscillators, it gets a bit more interesting. Not that you’re suddenly going to begin crediting your mornings to oscillation, but maybe if you’re even a bit engineer-minded you’ll see why these small heroes of the frequency world matter to our daily lives. 

How Crystal Oscillators Work

Frequency is the name of the game. A crystal oscillator is an electronic component that, when vibrating, emits a frequency that opens up engineers to a wide variety of use cases for the products in which they are installed. 

First, here’s a layperson’s explanation of how it all works:

  1. A quartz crystal is used for oscillation because it has the powerful ability to generate an electrical charge when stress is applied to it, such as vibration. 
  2. Vibration – or oscillation – at a certain stable rate can create a reliable frequency.
  3. The pattern of frequency from a crystal oscillator is reliable enough to send information across the frequency’s waves which can be received and transmitted in various forms, including sound and images. 

So, let’s see if you’re paying attention with a little quiz. Given that a crystal oscillator’s main purpose is to create a frequency by which data can be transmitted, how many times was a crystal oscillator used in the morning routine? Spoilers below!

Quiz Results – and How Crystal Oscillators Power Your Morning Routine

If you counted at least six frequency-based oscillators – and there are likely many, many more of these components involved in the circuitry of any given electronic device – you are correct. It’s no wonder that crystal oscillators are used in and out of your home on such a regular basis, as they are an exceptionally reliable surface for frequency and the second most abundant mineral on Earth. 

Here’s where you’ll find crystal oscillators in your morning routine:

  • In your smartphone, for keeping time and sending wireless information 
  • In any product with the ability to keep time, such as your coffee maker
  • In any Internet of Things (IoT) device that transmits information by WIFI, such as your thermostat or a wearable device
  • GPS for a vehicle, including the ones used by delivery drivers trying to find their way around your neighborhood

While transmitting information is highly dependent on frequency and crystal oscillators, so is how we tell time. Similar to its importance in sending and receiving information, the stable frequency of an oscillator also allows watch manufacturers to create a stable, ticking clock you can depend on, whether it has literal hands or communicates by way of a digital interface on your coffee machine. 

Where Engineers Can Find Crystal Oscillators

For engineers in the design community who are looking to use quartz crystal for frequency control in products for the home and elsewhere (the list of applications for oscillators continues to grow in our technology-saturated world) look for a company that primarily focuses on quartz crystal products. 

While there are other ways to generate frequency, quartz crystal is the most reliable, durable, and cost-effective surface. Companies that deal with quartz crystal can help you find the right oscillators that will operate within your temperature range, that will fit your circuit board and will emit the precise frequency you’re looking for. They may even be able to customize a product just for your application, whether it’s useful for morning routines or elsewhere.

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