Difference between Signal & Function Generator

Function Generator

Difference between Signal & Function Generator

In this post, we are discussing about the basic Difference between Signal & Function Generator. But before that, we should know something about these two. So, first of all, the basic definitions of Signal & Function generators are discussed.

Signal Generator                       

  • A signal generator is an electronic device (or equipment) that generates repeating or non-repeating electronic signals (in either the analog or digital domains).
  • A signal generator is a very important equipment in the test setup, electronic developments, and troubleshooting.
  • It is also used for testing complex communication systems, measuring the frequency response of the amplifier, aligning of radio receivers, etc.
  • It is generally used in designing, testing, troubleshooting, and electro-acoustic devices and circuits.
  • The waveform generated by various types of electronic devices ranges in complexity from simple fixed frequency sinusoidal waves to those produced by highly sophisticated devices such as those needed for testing complex telecommunication circuits and networks.

There are two types of signal generators:

  1. Audio Frequency (AF) signal generator
  2. Radio Frequency (RF) signal generator
  • There are various types of signal generators, but the following characteristics are common to all types:
  1. Low harmonic content
  2. Stable operating frequency
  3. Stable output amplitude
  4. Low spurious output i.e. hum, noise, modulation, etc.

Function Generator

  • The function generator is an instrument that generates different types of waveforms like a sine wave, square wave, triangular wave, a saw-tooth wave, etc.
  • The frequency and amplitude of these waveforms can be varied over a wide range.
  • All the waveforms are available simultaneously.  
  • Another useful feature of the function generator is that it can be phase-locked to an external signal source so that two output signals can be displaced in phase by an adjustable amount.
  • In addition to that, the fundamental frequency of one generator can be phase-locked to a harmonic of another generator. By adjusting the amplitude and phase of the harmonic, the amount of any waveform can be generated.  

Differences between Signal Generator and Function Generator

Signal Generator Function Generator
The signal generator generates only a Sine wave. Function Generator generates various waveforms like sine, square, sawtooth, triangular, etc.
Limited Frequency stability. High-Frequency Stability.
No capability of phase looking with the external source.The capability of phase-locking with the external source.
Frequency is controlled by frequency range
Frequency is controlled by varying the magnitude of the current which drives the integrator.

You may also like to read Spectrum Analyzer.

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