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Function Generators

FUNCTION GENERATORS
Function

generators, which are very


important
and
versatile
instruments.
provide a variety of output waveforms over
a wide frequency range.
The most common output waveforms are
sine, square, triangular, ramp. and pulse.
The frequency range generally extends
from a fraction of a hertz to at least several
hundred kilohertz.

Since a function generator provides sine,

square, and triangular wave outputs, any of


these may be the primary waveform
generated by the instrument. This primary
waveform can then be applied to the
proper circuitry to generate the remaining
waveforms.

For example, the primary waveform may be

a sine wave generated with the RC or LC


oscillator circuit.
However, because of difficulties with
amplitude
and
frequency
stability,
particularly at very low frequencies,
oscillators with a sine wave as the primary
output are generally not used.

Figure 1-9 shows a schematic diagram of one

of several alternative approaches that can be


used in a basic function generator. The
primary waveform in the circuit shown is a
square wave.

Fig. 1-9 Circuit for a basic function generator.

This waveform is chosen because some

circuits generating square waves are


simpler and offer significantly better
amplitude and frequency stability than do
circuits generating sine waves.
The first stage, A1, which is a voltage
comparator, generates a square wave
output. The output of A1 is driven to
saturation; therefore, the square wave is
either at + Vcc or - Vcc.

The second stage, A2 is an integrator which

generates a triangular output. The square


wave is applied to a square-to-sine wave
converter that filters out the odd harmonics
making u the square wave while passing on
only the fundamental sine wave.
The operation of the circuit can be
analyzed by starting at the output of the
comparator, which la at either +Vcc or -Vcc.
Consider V01 to be at Vcc.

The voltage V01 will remain at -Vcc until the

voltage at the inverting input of A, exceeds


the voltage at the noninverting input, which
in this case is at zero volts. The
noninverting input voltage. Vx, is due, in
par, to the voltage V01 and, in part, to the
R1
R2
voltage VV02, Vaccording
expression
V to the
x

cc

R1 R 2

02

R1 R 2

(124)

The output V01 changes states when Vx = 0;

therefore. we can say


R1
R2
0 V cc
V02
R1 R 2
R1 R 2

(1-

25)

which simplifies
to
V R V
02

cc

R1
(1-

26)

From Eq. 1-26 we can determine the

maximum amplitude of the triangular


output. V02, which is expressed as
V 02 V cc

R1
R2

(1-27)

When the output voltage V02 reaches the

amplitude given by Eq. 1-27. the output of


the comparator changes stars and the
triangular wave begins to decrease linearly.
Since the output is symmetrical about by
Eq.1-27 also expresses the minimum value
of V02 at which switching occurs.

The waveforms at Vx, V01 and V02 are shown in

Fig. 1-10 for the situation in which R 1 = R2.

Fig. 1-10 Waveforms for the function


generator of Fig. 1-9.

The frequency of the circuit is controlled by

the RC time constant of the integrator. To


obtain an expression for the frequency. we
begin with the expression relating capacitor
current. charge,
q and
i c t time of change:
(1-28)

The rate of charge


dq i cofdt the capacitor is
(1-29)

which can be written as


dq
i

c
(1-30)
dt

As the capacitor charges. the relationship


between charge, capacitance, and voltage
across the capacitor plates is

q CV02

(1-31)

Substituting Eq. 1-31 into Eq. 1-30 yields


ic C

32)

d (V 02 )
dt

(1-

Since the input resistance of the operational amplifier is


very high. the current through resistor R is approximately
equal to the charging current of the capacitor. Therefore,
we can write
d (V )
iR C

02

dt

(133)

In addition, since the voltage gain of the operational

amplifier is very high. the voltage at the input to the


amplifier is very nearly zero. Therefore
iR

V 0
01
R

(1-34)

Substituting Eq. 1-34 into Eq. 1-33. we obtain

1
d (V 02 )
V 01 dt
RC

(1-35)

Integrating both sides of Eq. 1-35, we obtain


V02

1
V01
V
dt

01
RC
RC (t )

36)

Substituting Eq. 1-27 into Eq. 1-36 yields


R1 V 01

t
R 2 RC
(1-37)

Vcc

(1-

Since V01 =Vcc. Eq. 1-37 simplifies to

t RC

R1
R2

(1-38)

The development of Eq. 1-38 began with Eq. 1-28. which


allows us to compute the charge on a capacitor after a period of
time t. Equation 1-28 is valid only if the initial charge and,
therefore. the initial voltages on the capacitor are zero.
Therefore, the time t in Eq. 1-38 is the time for the capacitor to
charge from 0 V until switching occurs. which is at one-fourth
cycle as shown in Fig. 1-10.

Therefore, the time t in Eq. 1-38 is the time for the

capacitor to charge from 0 V until switching occurs. which


is at one-fourth cycle as shown in Fig. 1-10. Since Eq. 138 becomes
R1
T 4 RC
R2

(1-39)

The frequency which is the reciprocal of the period, is now


R

expressed as
(1-40)

1
2

4 RC R1

EXAMPLE 1-5
Compute the frequency and the peak

amplitude of the triangular output of the


circuit shown in
Fig. 1-11.

Fig. 1-11 Function generator for Example 15.

The amplitude of the triangular waveform

can be computed from Eq. 1-27 a


R1
R2

V 02 V cc

60 k
9V
100 k

(15V )

Figure 10-12 shows an Exact Electronic

Model 528 function generator.

Fig.1-12 Laboratory quality function generator. (Courtesy


Exact Electronics.)

This

laboratory quality instrument


generates sine, square, triangle, ramp, and
pulse waveforms over the frequency range
from 03.001 Hz to 20 MHz. The output
voltage is 30V peak to peak in an open
circuit and 15V peak to peak across a 50-
load.