Above — An early DSO capture of the frequency counter output in yellow and the main VCO output in green with the low-pass filtered soldered in, but not the 6 dB pad.
Above — Final FBA version into my DSO. I wanted an output close to 10 dBm so I can get ~7 dBm outputs from a quadrature hybrid coupler for use in single signal DC receivers if so desired.
Above — VCO board on my test bench. I soldered a 100K pot with 12.3 VDC supply, so that I could apply reverse DC voltage to the varactors and manually tune the VCO to test its function. Most importantly, this allows you to choose the correct tank inductor and fixed capacitor values.
Above — VCO board on my test bench. As shown, I’ve got 4.86 volts manually applied to the varactors. I applied 3 back-to-back varactors, plus the small 47 p tank coupling capacitor to allow enough VCO tuning range with the lowest pk-pk AC voltage possible on the varactors to potentially reduce VCO phase noise.
When you connect the varactors to the VCO, tweak the small 5-30p trimmer cap to get phase lock. Switch off the power. Then after 4-5 seconds, switch back on the12 VDC. If your VCO does not phase lock, tweak the trimmer cap some more and repeat. You can connect your voltmeter right to the PLL output to monitor the DC voltage.
My circuit captures and locks the VCO after switching it off and then on with 3.9 volts DC measured on the PLL output with the VXO set to its lowest frequency + the 4-bit counter set to divide by 11. It’s then set and forget. Once set, the VCO locks perfectly every time and it stays on the set frequency for days.