Waveform generator – a special addition to electronic measuring equipment
Signal generators are electronic devices designed for generating repetitive or non-repetitive electronic signals. They are generally used to test, design, troubleshoot and repair electronic devices. There are a lot of various types of signal generators for different purposes and applications.
Function and arbitrary waveform generators are one of the most essential and versatile means of electronic test equipment. A controllable signal is often required to simulate the normal operation of the circuit under investigation in the fields of troubleshooting and electronic design. Stable and reliable signals are also needed for testing physical systems and transducers. The required signal level values are usually in the range from several microvolts up to tens of volts or even more.
A function waveform generator is a device for generating simple repetitive waveforms. A device of this type contains an electronic oscillator, that is a circuit that is able to create a repetitive waveform. In case the oscillator works above the range of audio frequency (>20 kHz), the generator often includes some modulation function, e.g. amplitude modulation (AM), frequency modulation (FM), or phase modulation (PM). The generator may also include a second oscillator that provides an audio frequency modulation waveform.
An arbitrary waveform generator, or AWG, is an advanced signal generator that allows the operator to create arbitrary waveforms. These waveforms are created within the preset limits of frequency range, output level, and accuracy. The AWG allows users to determine a source waveform in many of different ways, compared to function generators that are limited to a standard set of waveforms. Arbitrary Waveform Generator is generally a more expensive device than a function generator, and is often more limited in available bandwidth. Consequently, in most cases they are limited to higher-end design and test applications.
Modern function generators are capable of providing a wide variety of waveforms. Some of the most common signals produced by the function generator are the sine, square and triangular waveforms from the values of less than 1 Hz to at least 1 MHz, with adjustable DC offset and variable amplitude. Most of the generators feature additional functions, such as frequency sweep, higher frequency capability, AM and FM operation, variable symmetry, and gated burst mode. At the same time, most of advanced models provide a number of additional waveforms and an Arbitrary Waveform Generator may offer a whole variety of user-defined periodic waveforms.
Waveform generator is mostly used in cases when stable and repeatable signals are needed. Some of the usual applications of this device are as follows:
- Research and development
- Frequency response characterization
- Stimulus/response testing
- In-circuit signal injection
- Electronic hobbies
Traditionally waveform generators are used by:
- Industrial enterprises
- Educational establishments
- Workshops for repairing electronic and electrical equipment
The modern market promotes a variety of function generators with the price range from a several tens of US dollars and up to tens of thousands of US dollars. ToolBoom Online Store offers a wide range of low-end, middle-end and high-end Function & Arbitrary Waveform Generators from the leading manufacturers on the measuring & test equipment market: Siglent, Rigol, Uni-T.