A signal generator is any device that creates electronic signals. There are many different types with diverse purposes and applications. Function generators, arbitrary waveform generators, and vector signal generators are common types of specialized signal generators.
A waveform generator is used to generate electrical waveforms over a wide range of signals. Common types of waveforms outputs include sine wave, square wave, ramp or triangular wave, pulse wave, cardiac pattern wave, gaussian pulse waves, and arbitrary waves. These waveforms can be injected into a test circuit and analyzed to confirm the device is operating properly.
For greater flexibility, many waveforms can be loaded as steps, and played out in a sequence involving repeats, jumps and triggers to define the order and number of times each step is repeated. Using a combination of arbitrary waveforms and sequencing, extremely complex and dynamic waveform playback can be achieved.
Arbitrary Function Generator
An arbitrary function generator has a preset list of waveforms or patterns that it can play. The operator can change the parameters of waveforms, such as how fast it is played, the amplitude and offset, or add some basic distortion or modulation.
Vector Signal Generator
A vector signal generator specializes in creating RF signals with analog and digital modulation schemes in formats such as QAM, QPSK, FSK, BPSK, and OFDM. Vector signal generators are commonly used for receiver sensitivity testing.
Tektronix offers a wide variety of signal generators that cover a wide range of applications, from replicating sensor signals to creating RF and the fastest high-speed serial data signals. Each signal generator can create a virtually unlimited number of signals - analog or digital, ideal or distorted, standard or custom.