Arbirary/Function/Signal Generator Wassup??

Discussion in 'General Electronics Chat' started by TBayBoy, Jun 3, 2013.

  1. TBayBoy

    Thread Starter Member

    May 25, 2011
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    I see these terms allot in forums and on youtube, but I have been unable to discern the difference between these animals.

    Is it just a feature set or how the output is generated or some other ilk that I am missing.

    Is one better than the other for a particular application? Usage?

    Thx.
     
  2. tshuck

    Well-Known Member

    Oct 18, 2012
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    A function generator and signal generator are both about the same thing, they create signals like sine waves, square waves, triangle waves, etc. of varying amplitude, offset, frequency, duty, etc.

    An arbitrary waveform generator can do all of this, along with generating a waveform that is arbitrary, otherwise unknown when the unit is shipped. A lot of these will connect to a computer which will program a specified waveform to the unit.
     
  3. BreadCrum6

    New Member

    Aug 17, 2011
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    Also, function generators refers specifically to test equipment, whereas, a signal generator is a more broad term.
     
  4. TBayBoy

    Thread Starter Member

    May 25, 2011
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    So I could input a formula and it will generate that wave shape?
     
  5. tshuck

    Well-Known Member

    Oct 18, 2012
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    You could even draw a waveform with a very mathematically complex representation and have it produce it.
     
  6. ErnieM

    AAC Fanatic!

    Apr 24, 2011
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    An arbitrary waveform generator is like a CD player with the disk replaced by a ton of memory: you store numbers there and it clocks these out thru a digital to analog converter.

    The better ones are $$$ as you need a lot of very fast memory, but those made on the cheap also have their uses.
     
  7. MrChips

    Moderator

    Oct 2, 2009
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    You can even build your own arbitrary waveform generator with a fast mcu and equally fast DAC.
     
  8. THE_RB

    AAC Fanatic!

    Feb 11, 2008
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    I made some PC software where you provide a text file, (each number is a one sample in the waveform), and it creates a .WAV file of your desired waveform (which can then be played out the soundcard).

    A few people have found it useful;
    http://romanblack.com/wavmak.htm
     
    ahlfredo likes this.
  9. TBayBoy

    Thread Starter Member

    May 25, 2011
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    This is all great info, thanks, I think the arbitrary wave form generator is more than I need for now :)
     
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