Signal Generator Vs Function Generator
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Signal Generator Vs Function Generator

Signal generator vs function generator the right piece of testing equipment for your next project, the first question to ask is what type of signals you need to generate. Do you need standard waveforms like sine, square or triangular waves? Or do you need to produce more complex and specific scenarios? For the latter, an arbitrary waveform generator (AWG) is the answer.

In short, a function generator is a test instrument that produces different types of repetitive electronic signals such as sine waveforms, step waveforms, square and triangular waves, or sawtooth waveforms. These signals can be either repetitive or single-shot, depending on whether they are triggered by an external source.

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As well as a range of different waveforms, function generators often include controls such as frequency and DC offset. The former alters the basic frequency at which a waveform repeats, whilst the latter changes the average voltage of the signal compared to 0V or ground.

For some waveforms, a function generator may also have a control to vary the ‘duty cycle’ of the signal, which alters the ratio of time that the signal spends at high voltage compared with low. This can change the signal from a square wave with a 1:1 duty cycle to a triangular waveform with equal rise and fall times or a sawtooth waveform with faster rising than falling edges.

A function generator can also include a pulse waveform, which is similar to a square wave but with a very different mark space ratio, and can be useful for digital applications. Finally, most function generators can include a control to change the ‘mark space’ between a rising edge and a falling edge of a signal. This can make the signal easier to identify and use in applications where the exact shape of a rising or falling edge is important, for example when testing amplifiers.

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