What to Look for When You Shop for the Best Function Generator
If you guys are all wondering what a function generator is, it is nothing but a signal source that is capable of producing different types of waveforms as its output signals. Some of the common output waveforms are sine waves, triangular waves, square waves and so on. The frequencies of these waves can be adjusted too(The Best Function Generator Reviews by whichsolderingstation). The ability to add a DC offset is also seen in many function generators. The low-end function generators have an operating range of 100 kHz only whereas most of the high-end ones operate in the range of 10 or 20 MHz. Some function generators known as arbitrary waveform generators allow you to generate any waveform that you want.
The function generator basically saves you the time when you are prototyping a circuit for an oscillator. Also, it allows you to prototype audio circuits, low pass and high pass circuits.
When you are buying a function generator, apart from the cost effectiveness, there are indeed some factors that you need to look upon.
Type of Waveforms
Waveforms: All function generators usually produce sine, square, pulse, triangular and saw tooth or ramp waveforms. It is advisable to check the specifications of these waveforms beforehand. The sine wave distortion levels maybe below 2% generally and the triangular wave linearity will be 99% between levels of 10. Also, they will be 90% of the waveform amplitude. The square wave rise and fall time typically is around 100ns between 10 and 90% of the waveform. Output symmetry will be mostly 20%-80%+10% or 80%-10%. Typical output levels that is maximum levels maybe 10 or 12 volts peak to peak on most function generators. 50 ohms is the standard output impedance of a function generator.
Above is the Siglent SDG 810 10MHz function generator.
The function generators have frequency ranges as follows. The lower frequency range is usually 0.1 Hz or 0.2 Hz and the upper frequency range can vary considerably from 1 MHz to 20Mhz. Along with this, range factors such as frequency stability, Phase lock capability and Modulation are to be considered. Some function generators provide a DC offset voltage while some types of function generators have the ability to sweep the frequency of output waveform between two operated limits. These generators are called sweep function generators.
The Number of Channels
The number of channels is an important factor to consider too. A 2 channel frequency generators are way better because they offer much more precision. Whether the generator consist of burst mode and also whether it requires manual trigger or external trigger are all personal usage criteria.
USB or GPIB interface
The fact whether the function generator can be controlled via USB or GPIB must be taken into account. Some generators provide LAN features too.
These are the key points that you need to keep in mind along with other specifications such as power consumption, size, weight and operating temperature. For perfection in the field of analog/digital experiments and meeting your requirements at the same time, you need the get the most suitable function generator according to your needs. Here, we review a few popular function generators in the market.