Generators – Function

Digital Function Generator

Arbitrary Function Generator – Rent, Buy, Sell


function generator is usually a piece of electronic test equipment or software used to generate different types of electrical waveforms over a wide range of frequencies. Some of the most common waveforms produced by the function generator are the sine, square, triangular and sawtooth shapes. These waveforms can be either repetitive or single-shot (which requires an internal or external trigger source). Integrated circuits used to generate waveforms may also be described as function generator ICs.

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Although function generators cover both audio and RF frequencies, they are usually not suitable for applications that need low distortion or stable frequency signals. When those traits are required, other signal generators would be more appropriate.

Some function generators can be phase-locked to an external signal source (which may be a frequency reference) or another function generator.

Function generators are used in the development, test and repair of electronic equipment. For example, they may be used as a signal source to test amplifiers or to introduce an error signal into a control loop.


Typical specifications for a general-purpose function generator are:

  • Produces sine, square, triangular, sawtooth (ramp), and pulse output. Arbitrary waveform generators can produce waves of any shape.
  • It can generate a wide range of frequencies. For example, the Tektronix FG 502 (ca 1974) covers 0.1 Hz to 11 MHz.
  • Frequency stability of 0.1 percent per hour for analog generators or 500 ppm for a digital generator.
  • Maximum sinewave distortion of about 1% (accuracy of diode shaping network) for analog generators. Arbitrary waveform generators may have distortion less than -55 dBbelow 50 kHz and less than -40 dB above 50 kHz.
  • Some function generators can be phase locked to an external signal source, which may be a frequency reference or another function generator.
  • AM or FM modulation may be supported.
  • Output amplitude up to 10 V peak-to-peak.
  • Amplitude can be modified, usually by a calibrated attenuator with decade steps and continuous adjustment within each decade.
  • Some generators provide a DC offset voltage, e.g. adjustable between -5V to +5V.
  • An output impedance of 50 Ω.

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