A signal generator refers to test equipment designed to generate electrical signals in a waveform. Signal generators have existed for many years. But the early ones were simply basic compared to today’s forms of signal generators. Their performance levels and the available type of applications have also improved and increased. You can use it as a stimulus for the device being tested. These signal generators come in all forms and are usually used in test and development systems alongside other test instruments.
When looking for used technical equipment from Keysight, you will realize that you can find various types of used signal generators. Each of these signal generators can offer a different type of signal. Some of them provide radio frequency signals while others audio signals. Besides, you can find signal generators that produce different types of the waveform, and others can offer just pulses. This post explains what you need to know about the used signal generator.
Understanding signal generators
As the name suggests, a signal generator means it’s a generator of signals utilized as a stimulus for electronic measurement. Many circuits need some form of the input signal with an amplitude that varies over time.
The signal can be a bipolar AC1 signal that has peaks going above and below a certain reference point. It can also vary on a range of DC offset voltages which can be either negative or positive. This can be a digital pulse, a sine wave or another analog function, an arbitrary wave shape, or a binary pattern.
This signal generator can offer suitable waveforms or even add some known and repeatable types and amounts of distortion to the signals it sends. This property is perhaps one of the signal generators’ best virtues because it can be hard to produce predictable distortions where and when required using just the circuit.
As explained earlier, you may find a variety of signal generators that can generate various waveforms for various test applications. So some of the test applications can handle the radio frequency testing field while others are utilized for audio testing. This can be used as a sine wave generator and others for offering pulses, such as for digital circuits.
The good thing is that there are many different applications you can use for signal generators. But they can vary from measuring test equipment, such as oscilloscopes, spectrum analyzers, and digital multimeters in that they produce a signal to be used for a unit you are testing instead of measuring a signal.
Many used signal generators you can find at Keysight are based on digital technology. You can also find some that meet both digital and analog requirements. However, the best solution can be a source that has optimized features for the application at hand, so you can choose either a digital or analog signal generator.
There are also used function generators and arbitrary waveform generators designed primarily for mixed-signal and analog applications. Therefore, these instruments utilize sampling methods to create and modify waveforms of all shapes. In most cases, these can have between 1 and 4 outputs.
You can find some arbitrary waveform generators with analog outputs that come with separate marker outputs as well as synchronous digital outputs. Separate marker outputs can assist in triggering external outputs while synchronous digital outputs provide sample-by-sample data digitally.
Remember that digital waveform generators have two types of instruments. You can find pulse generators that push streams of square waves and others that come from few outputs but at high frequencies. These instruments are usually utilized to workout high-speed digital equipment.
Then there are also pattern generators that are also called data timing generators or data generators. These can provide either 8, 16, or more synchronized digital pulse streams to stimulate a signal for digital telecommunication elements, computer buses, and many more.
Signal generator types
Now that you know that signal generators are electronic test instruments that generate or create repeating or non-repeating waveforms, it makes sense to know some used signal generators you can find at Keysight.
It’s worth noting that you can use signal generators in the manufacturing, designing, and repairing of electronic devices. Here are some types of used signal generators that can create various amplitude and shapes of waveforms:
Arbitrary waveform generator
The arbitrary waveform generator refers to a signal generator that can generate sophisticated waveforms but you need to specify them. These waveforms can come in any shape and you can enter them in various ways, even by extending to specific areas on the waveform.
Ideally, you can think of an arbitrary waveform as a sophisticated function generator. Because they are relatively more complex, these generators are usually quite expensive compared to function generators. They have also limited bandwidth because of the methods needed to create the signals.
Audio signal generator
You can use audio signal generators for audio applications. This type of signal generator can cover the audio range that is usually between 20 Hz and 20 kHz and even more. You can also utilize audio signal generators as a sine wave generator, and you can also use them to measure distortion and frequency response. As a result, audio signal generators need to have a flat response as well as low harmonic distortion levels.
The function generator is another type of signal generator you can use to create simple repetitive waveforms. In most cases, this type of signal generator can make waveforms or performs as waveforms, sawtooth, sine waves, and triangular and square waveforms.
In the past, there were function generators that relied on analog oscillator circuits to produce waveforms directly. Today, you can find function generators that can utilize digital signal processing methods to create the waveforms digitally. Even better, they can also convert these waveforms from the digital format into an analog format.
You can encounter many function generators that are usually limited to lower frequencies. This is because this is where the waveforms generated by function generators are usually needed. But you can sometimes get higher frequency versions.
With a pulse generator, you need to know that it’s also another type of signal generator that generates pulses. You see, these signal generators can be logic pulse generators that may create pulses with inconsistent delays. You can also find some that provide variable rise and fall times.
You may need pulses for testing a variety of digital and even analog circuits. Because they can create pulses, it means that they can trigger circuits or even pulse trains that you can send to a device to get the needed stimulus.
Radio frequency generator
A radiofrequency generator is also a form of signal generator that you can use to create radio frequency signals. And, a radio frequency signal generator can use various techniques to generate the signal. You can find an analog signal generator that uses free-running oscillators, though some may use frequency locked loop methods to improve stability.
But many radio frequency signal generators utilize frequency synthesizers to offer the accuracy and stability required. You can use both direct digital and phase-locked loop synthesis methods. The radio frequency signal generators usually can put modulation to the waveforms.
So lower end radio frequency signal generators can add either frequency modulation or amplitude modulation, but high-end ones can add modulation formats, such as CDMA, OFDM, and many more. Therefore, you can use them to test wireless and cellular systems.
Digital signal generators
The digital signal generator is also another type of radiofrequency signal generator that creates radio frequency signals that have complex modulation formats like QAM, QPSK, and many more. You can use these signal generators to test modern data communications systems. This includes Wi-Fi, 4G, and 5G mobile telecommunication systems.
Besides, you can also use these digital signal generators to test other connectivity systems that use advanced waveforms. This is because these waveforms utilize modulation schemes and even waveforms using phase information.
Formats of signal generators
Like many other types of electronic test equipment, used signal generators are also available in various formats. But the type of format you decide to buy usually depends on the form of the signal generator, though you can find several options available at Keysight. Here are some signal generators formats:
Traditional bench test equipment
The traditional bench test equipment is everything you can imagine when it comes to testing instruments. This is a self-contained box that has the generator, power supply, display, control functions, and external controls. So these test instruments can have a large volume, but they can sometimes not be the more ideal option than the other available options.
Rack test instrument card
Rack test instrument cards are the test module that you can place in a test rack. You can find early rack test instruments that had VXI, though recently PXI has become the most commonly used one. PXI is based on the well-known PC standard called PCI and happens to be an open standard.
The rack comes with the basic 19-inch rack system that has a power supply. However, the first slot is for the controller or even link to any external PC. You can use the other card slots for the test instruments. There is a wide range of used signal generators, arbitrary waveform generators, function generators, and much more available at Keysight.
No doubt, a rack test instrument card is a suitable approach for creating an automated system that has various units. Regardless of what you are looking for, you can rest assured that you can find great performance PXI test instruments at Keysight. Even better, many of them can equal the effectiveness of bench test equipment.
USB signal generator
You can also get another option to test instruments nowadays, and this is by using your PC to take various functions of the test instrument. Here is the deal, you can find a variety of test module that offers the functionality of the test equipment,
Therefore, this can create the signal, though the controls, power supply, and display are offered by your PC. You can reduce the costs of the instruments in this way while still maintaining their performance and capability.
User computer-created waveform
You may encounter some cases where you can create a waveform digitally using your computer through a program or signal generator app. In this case, the waveform you can get is sent out through the audio socket of your audio card.
By using this technique, you can get a cheap way to generate a signal, though it can be limited by its output of the audio card or even the PC audio. This method route may also not be a suitable option if you intend to get a guaranteed performance required.
Remember that there are various signal generator formats when it comes to the test instrument’s physical format. So if you want to use a stand-alone equipment, you may realize that the bench test equipment can be the ideal option. However, when you have systems and other parts of your PC available, it is a good idea to use other options.
Above all, the various forms of signal generators can create a variety of waveforms. So you can utilize these waveforms in several applications. Some of them can be radio frequency equipment while others offer stimuli designed for logic boards as well as a wide range of different areas to give the different stimuli required.
Therefore, when searching for a used signal generator to buy at Keysight, it’s crucial to figure out the type of signal generator required for the given task at hand.
To sum it up, keep in mind that a wave can be considered to be a pattern that has quantitative values repeating over some interval times. So the process of creating a signal involves waveform creation and many others.
The digital signal generator as well as its associated baseband generators are the key parts to stimulate a signal. However, it’s important to purchase used signal generators from reliable suppliers so that you can get what you need to accomplish. No wonder, many people prefer using Keysight as they are not only reliable but also keep a variety of trustworthy used technical equipment.
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