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FFC-100 Fiber Frequency Comb Quick Start Guide

Model No. FFC-100-100 and FFC-100-200
Document Last Updated on 2021/10/06 23:13

Please read Limited Warranty and General Warnings and Cautions prior to operating the FFC-100.

Fig. 1: The FFC-100 Fiber Frequency Comb

Vescent manuals page.
FFC-100 API.
FFC-100 web page.
Github page for FFC-100 firmware revisions FFC-100 Manual
Please check back for added functionality. Contact sales [at] vescent [dot] com for questions and corrections, or to request added functionality.


Do not block the airflow vents on the side of the chassis or the fan inputs & outputs on either the FFC-100 or the SLICE-FPGA.
The mode-lock indicator on the GUI front panel cannot detect CW breakthrough. Keep the oscillator current within the range specified in your product's final test documentation or CoC.

Operating the FFC

This document provides instructions on how to operate the Vescent Photonics FFC-100 when controlled by the Vescent SLICE-FPGA.

Purchase Includes

  • FFC-100 rack-mountable Fiber Frequency Comb module
  • Power cord for your country (if known)
  • Instructions on how to download & install control software
  • Final Test Documentation
  • Other items depending on specific configuration

Absolute Maximum Ratings and Power Input

Note: All modules designed to be operated in a laboratory environment.

Parameter Rating
Environmental Temperature >15°C and <30°C
Environmental Humidity <60%
Environmental Dew Points <15°C
Maximum AC Line Input Current 2 A
Tab. 1: Absolute Maximum Ratings

The FFC-100 employs a proprietary design hybrid power supply that is both low noise and capable of accepting a range of AC input line voltages. It will accept input line voltages within the ranges shown in table 2.

Parameter Value Units
Input Line Voltage 100-240 VAC
Frequency 50-60 Hz
Phase 1 phase
User-serviceable fuse1) T 2.0 A L 250V
Tab. 2: Input Voltage Specifications

Proper Usage

If this instrument is used in a manner not specified by the manufacturer in this manual or other relevant literature, protection provided by the instrument may be impaired.
Successful implementation of the FFC-100 depends critically on the design of the whole system: FFC-100, phase locking electronics, and any references to which the FFC is locked or vice versa.

Initial Set-up

  1. Download and install software according to instructions found here.
  2. Ensure all cables and fibers are connected according to the connection diagram figure 2.2)
  3. Turn on the power to the Fiber Frequency Comb (FFC) and the FPGA, as well as the reference laser.

ffc-100_connection_diagram2.png Fig. 2: FFC-100 electrical and optical connection diagram (Click for larger image)

Parameter Rating
ƒopt Power Input <1.5 mW max
Tab. 3: Operating Parameters

FFC-100 Operation

FFC Start Up GUI

  1. Touch the “System Off” button at the top of the front panel screen (figure 3) to bring up a drop-down menu. Select “Standby” (figure 4) to turn on temperature control of the pump diodes and oscillator cavity.
    ffc_gui_off.png Fig. 3: The FFC-100 GUI in off state  ffc_gui_choose_state.png Fig. 4: Select Standby laser state
  2. Once the temperature servos have stabilized and “Standby” has stopped blinking, touch the “Standby” drop-down menu (figure 5) and select “Laser On” (figure 6). The FFC should commence lasing and the Mode-locked indicator should turn green (figure 7).
     ffc:ffc_gui_standby.png Fig. 5: The FFC-100 GUI: in Standby mode  ffc:ffc_gui_standby_to_on.png Fig. 6: The FFC-100 GUI: Standby to System On  ffc:ffc_gui_on.png Fig. 7: System On
  3. If necessary, adjust oscillator current by either holding down the “Osc” touch screen button and typing in a desired set-point (figure 8), or briefly pressing the button and using the two control knobs (left changes digits, right adjusts values) to set a desired value.
     ffc:ffc_gui_adjust_oscillator_current.png Fig. 8: Adjust oscillator current via keypad
  4. Cavity temperature can be adjusted in the same way.
  5. Touch the “PZT” touch screen button (figure 9) to bring up a drop-down menu and select “Full Range x20” to enable the PZT servo.
     ffc:ffc_gui_select_pzt_mode.png Fig. 9: Select PZT Gain

FPGA Control

The SLICE-FPGA dual-channel Offset Phase Lock Servo can be used to phase lock ƒCEO to a reference (TBD) and ƒopt to a reference laser such as the Rio Planex.

If you have not already done so, install Python and the FPGA software for controlling the SLICE-FPGA dual Offset Phase Lock Servo.

Software Startup

  1. Open a WinPython command window and navigate to the folder “GUI and Firmware”.
  2. Start the SLICE-FPGA control GUI by typing “python”, figure 10).
     ffc:terminal_directory.png Fig. 10: Start FPGA GUI from Terminal
  3. A start-up menu should appear (figure 11). Make sure “superlaserland_v12.bit” is selected and select an appropriate clock option. Press OK.
     ffc:fpga_gui_startup.png Fig. 11: FPGA GUI Start Screen
  4. Navigate to the “Filter Settings” tab and select “Narrowband (6MHz)” for both DDC0 and DDC1 (figure 12).
    ffc:fpga_filter_set.png Fig. 12: Set Loop Filter Bandwidth

Locking ƒ(CEO)

  1. Navigate to the “CEO Lock” tab and adjust the “Offset DAC 0” slider near the top left by clicking and dragging the slider until the the data in the Baseband IQ plot is circular (figure 13). This centers the beat note near the reference frequency. It is also possible to adjust the FFC-100 oscillator current on its front panel to make this adjustment.
    ffc:fpga_ceo_lock.png Fig. 13: Centering ƒ(CEO) on reference frequency (Baseband IQ optimization)
  2. Press the “Lock” button (figure 14, top middle). If the system doesn’t lock, change the VCO sign to the opposite polarity (top right) and try again. If the system still won't lock, try lowering the Kp value (bottom left).
    ffc:fpga_ceo_lock_2.png Fig. 14: Locking ƒ(CEO)

Locking ƒ(opt)

  1. Navigate to the “Optical Lock” window. Center the beat note near the reference frequency: adjust the “Offset DAC 1” slider (or your reference laser frequency) until you see a circular Baseband IQ diagram (figure 15).
    ffc:fpga_optical_bbiq.png Fig. 15: Centerig ƒ(opt) on reference frequency (Baseband IQ optimization)
  2. Press the “Lock” button (figure 16). If ƒopt doesn’t lock, change the VCO sign to the opposite polarity and try again. If the system continues to not lock, lower the Kp value.\\ ffc:fpga_optical_lock.png Fig. 16: Locking ƒ(opt)
  3. Adjust PID settings (bottom middle of figure 16) accordingly to lower the integrated phase noise of each parameter (fCEO and fopt). The default settings provided in the software are a good place to start but tweaking the values can often improve performance.

Slow Loop Feedback

Slow loop functionality will be provided in a near-term software update.

  1. Open your computer’s device manager from the control panel and find the COM port number for “STMicroelectronics”. Never assume that this number is the same as previous times. (If it doesn’t appear, make sure your computer is connected to the FFC.)
  2. Navigate to the “Slow Loop” tab in the GUI and enter the COM port number into “FFC COM Port”.
  3. The PZT setpoint is set to an intermediate value (50V) to keep the servo from railing. This can be adjusted if desired.
  4. Click “Activate Temperature Slow Loop”.
Located in power receptacle on rear panel
Single frequency reference laser: for instance a RIO PlanexTM 1550 nm laser.
ffc/100.txt · Last modified: 2021/10/06 23:13 (external edit)