Date of Award


Degree Name

MS in Electrical Engineering


Electrical Engineering


College of Engineering


Dean Y. Arakaki

Advisor Department

Electrical Engineering

Advisor College

College of Engineering


Radio Frequency (RF) and Microwave devices are typically implemented in Integrated Circuit (IC) form to minimize parasitics, increase precision and tolerances, and minimize size. Although IC fabrication for students and independent engineers is cost-prohibitive, an abundance of low-cost, easily accessible printed circuit board (PCB) and electronic component manufacturers allows affordable PCB fabrication.

While nearly all microwave voltage-controlled oscillator (VCO) designs are IC-based, this study presents a discrete PCB-level cross-coupled, differential LC VCO to demonstrate this more affordable and accessible approach. This thesis presents a 65 mW, discrete component VCO PCB with industry-comparable RF performance. A phase noise of -103.7 dBc/Hz is simulated at a 100 kHz offset from a 4.05 GHz carrier. This VCO achieves a 532 MHz (13.25%) tuning bandwidth. A figure of merit, FOMP, [1] value of -177.7 dB (includes phase noise and power consumption) is calculated at 4.05 GHz. This surpasses the performance of an industry standard VCO (HMC430LPx, Analog Devices), -176.5 dB, and four other commercially available VCOs. Furthermore, this study presents novel discrete design implementations to minimize both power consumption and capacitive loading effects, while optimizing phase noise. Finally, this project serves as a reference for analyzing and implementing low-level, complex RF and Microwave circuits on a PCB accessible to all students and independent engineers.