Author Topic: top 10 uses for Function Generators  (Read 3340 times)

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Offline k8943

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top 10 uses for Function Generators
« on: April 08, 2019, 05:35:41 pm »
Suggest video on Top10 uses for function generators for someone who “does a bit of everything “.

Haven’t found anything useful on this anywhere.

As someone who does quite a bit of electronics but still doesn’t have one would like to have a better idea of what I’m missing rather than spend too much on a whim then have it sitting under-used on a crowded bench.

Help Dave! ;)
 
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Offline David Hess

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Re: top 10 uses for Function Generators
« Reply #1 on: April 09, 2019, 03:33:06 am »
Top use?  Trade a function generator to the building's superintendent so that he will tell you how tall the building is and you can keep the neat clock.
 
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Offline Berni

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Re: top 10 uses for Function Generators
« Reply #2 on: April 09, 2019, 05:57:16 am »
The only commonly used test gear in general purpose electronics is a multimeter, scope and power supply.

Other gear tends to be indeed more rarely used, but when you need it it really saves you time and effort. A signal generator is only one such non vital but super nice to have when needed kind of gear. Other such gear might be a spectrum analyzer, network analyzer, synthesizer, LCR meter, electronic load, SMU, electrometer, curve tracer etc.. all the way to more exotic things like distortion analyzers, semicoductor analyzers, BERTs, pattern generators, atomic clocks etc..

Getting back to function generators they are mainly useful for providing input stimulus to a circuit under test. Could be anything from testing a transistor to sticking a PWM signal into  some module, sweeping the frequency response of something, put test tones trough audio gear etc... Its a very wide application piece of gear, but will certainly not be used as often as a scope.
 

Offline Cnoob

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Re: top 10 uses for Function Generators
« Reply #3 on: April 09, 2019, 07:59:26 am »
Although Berni covered it.

I will just like to stress the points useful to test the AC Band width of DMM and performance of your scopes.
 

Online tggzzz

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Re: top 10 uses for Function Generators
« Reply #4 on: April 09, 2019, 08:54:00 am »
Top use?  Trade a function generator to the building's superintendent so that he will tell you how tall the building is and you can keep the neat clock.

I thought it was a barometer, but maybe that is just an old version of the story before atomic clocks became easily portable :)

At a job interview after university I was once asked how, if I was an ancient Egyptian, I would be able to tell when the people building the pyramids could tell when their shift had ended. I spent and enjoyable 10 minutes before getting around to mentioning sand clocks / egg timers.
There are lies, damned lies, statistics - and ADC/DAC specs.
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Online tggzzz

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Re: top 10 uses for Function Generators
« Reply #5 on: April 09, 2019, 08:55:50 am »
Suggest video on Top10 uses for function generators for someone who “does a bit of everything “.

The video after that might consider top 10 used for a car.
There are lies, damned lies, statistics - and ADC/DAC specs.
Glider pilot's aphorism: "there is no substitute for span". Retort: "There is a substitute: skill+imagination. But you can buy span".
Having fun doing more, with less
 

Offline DimitriP

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Re: top 10 uses for Function Generators
« Reply #6 on: April 09, 2019, 09:33:12 am »
...
10) connect it to the newly acquired oscilloscope and watch the waveforms while pondering  top 10 uses for an oscilloscope
   If three 100  Ohm resistors are connected in parallel, and in series with a 200 Ohm resistor, how many resistors do you have? 
 
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Offline k8943

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Re: top 10 uses for Function Generators
« Reply #7 on: April 09, 2019, 12:47:52 pm »
Haha, you guys...!!

Should have known better than not to expect replies on a suggestion thread! :D

But STILL.... Have the impression that whenever make something the heavy lifting is done by reference designs and app notes such that haven't had to concern myself too much with whether some component might not be tweaked or the details of what is going on. Maybe it's better that way. But whenever do put something under the magnifying glass a whole universe appears and in light of that wondering what might be able to reveal with an AWG. When the book comes out, let me know!
 

Online AndyC_772

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Re: top 10 uses for Function Generators
« Reply #8 on: April 09, 2019, 01:24:02 pm »
I will just like to stress the points useful to test the AC Band width of DMM and performance of your scopes.

If the only thing you're doing with test equipment is connecting it to other test equipment, you're doing it wrong.

It reminds me of photography forums I used to be on...people would post photographs of their new camera, not taken with the camera.

The rule for when to buy a tool is very simple: if and when you need it, buy it. If you don't, then don't.

(That said, I did once have a visiting customer comment that I "didn't even have a function generator", which was true at the time, because I had no need for one. That's no longer the case, of course, but maybe I should stock the lab with cool-looking but non-functional props just in case?)

Offline k8943

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Re: top 10 uses for Function Generators
« Reply #9 on: April 09, 2019, 01:35:55 pm »
Know very well what you mean about the camera thing.

I have one or two things I'd like to do with an AWG (most especially sweeping wherever there's a choke, a resistor capacitor pair etc.)  but have the impression you need to have had a career in electronics (silicon wafers in the gaps between your teeth etc) to have an intuitive sense of the gamut of possibilities. Besides thought Dave was running out of ideas for videos. ;)
 

Offline Berni

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Re: top 10 uses for Function Generators
« Reply #10 on: April 09, 2019, 02:41:14 pm »
Well if you can't come up with any uses for a new piece of test gear then you most likely don't need it.

Because everyone works on different kinds of projects means that they all have different needs for test gear. Even just the choice of a scope can vary a lot. Someone might be just fine with a old 20MHz Hameg analog scope, someone else wants a Rigol 1000Z because they need one shot capture capability but not much more, someone else might need a Keysight DSOX3000 for the update rate and 1GHz bandwith, maybe someone else needs 8GHz of bandwith and advanced math features instead so they go for a Keysight S-series, or maybe you need 100GHz of bandwith and go for the massive Lecroy scope.

Tho collecting test equipment can sometimes become a bit of a hobby in itself. Mainly because you sometimes need extra equipment to be able to test and repair whatever you just bought. Can be a bit of a expensive hobby sometimes, but you do also learn quite a bit while repairing test gear on a component level. Buying old broken test gear and repairing it can also be a cheap way of outfitting a lab with high quality gear.
 

Offline k8943

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Re: top 10 uses for Function Generators
« Reply #11 on: April 09, 2019, 03:17:30 pm »
I guess that's it then.

Will carry on without until the need hits me over the head (or until someone makes an inspirational video for those poor fools who've bought them already & don't know what to do).

In the meantime, love using the miniVNA pro.... I guess that's an AWG of sorts!
 

Offline David Hess

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Re: top 10 uses for Function Generators
« Reply #12 on: April 09, 2019, 10:06:53 pm »
Top use?  Trade a function generator to the building's superintendent so that he will tell you how tall the building is and you can keep the neat clock.

I thought it was a barometer, but maybe that is just an old version of the story before atomic clocks became easily portable :)

It depends on the class.  The last time I took physics, it was a perfectly spherical clock instead of a barometer.

...
10) connect it to the newly acquired oscilloscope and watch the waveforms while pondering  top 10 uses for an oscilloscope

See below.

Will carry on without until the need hits me over the head (or until someone makes an inspirational video for those poor fools who've bought them already & don't know what to do).

I consider a function generator to be a basic piece of test equipment.  If you have two of them, then they can be combined to become a swept function generator.
 

Offline bsudbrink

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Re: top 10 uses for Function Generators
« Reply #13 on: April 09, 2019, 10:36:51 pm »
I seem to recall another thread...  Ah!  Yes, here:

https://www.eevblog.com/forum/beginners/real-world-use-of-a-function-generator/
 
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Online tggzzz

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Re: top 10 uses for Function Generators
« Reply #14 on: April 09, 2019, 11:07:54 pm »
Top use?  Trade a function generator to the building's superintendent so that he will tell you how tall the building is and you can keep the neat clock.

I thought it was a barometer, but maybe that is just an old version of the story before atomic clocks became easily portable :)

It depends on the class.  The last time I took physics, it was a perfectly spherical clock instead of a barometer.

I'm probably confusing it with a spherical cow.
There are lies, damned lies, statistics - and ADC/DAC specs.
Glider pilot's aphorism: "there is no substitute for span". Retort: "There is a substitute: skill+imagination. But you can buy span".
Having fun doing more, with less
 

Offline bsudbrink

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Re: top 10 uses for Function Generators
« Reply #15 on: April 09, 2019, 11:11:26 pm »
I'm probably confusing it with a spherical cow.
Udderly ridiculous.   :-DD
 

Offline djacobow

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Re: top 10 uses for Function Generators
« Reply #16 on: April 09, 2019, 11:15:26 pm »
I notice new function generators do not work nearly as well as old ones at holding open doors. Kids today and their crap build quality!
 

Offline schmitt trigger

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Re: top 10 uses for Function Generators
« Reply #17 on: April 10, 2019, 04:04:11 am »
True story:
Long ago, the company’s general manager liked to walk into the lab and peer into work benches.
Not being an engineer, he would make pesky questions.

One way we would deal with him is to connect an oscilloscope to an AWG whose output would be the wackiest we could generate. In addition, a DMM or frequency meter would be a nice addition. Plenty of paper schematics strewn around, some breadboards full of components and the show was fully set.

That on its own made having on the lab an expensive Agilent AWG worthwhile.
 

Offline k8943

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Re: top 10 uses for Function Generators
« Reply #18 on: April 10, 2019, 07:28:56 am »
Quote
The video after that might consider top 10 used for a car.

Here's the thing: we could make a video on the top 10 uses of a car and not be so far from the mark.

Just that it wouldn't be of any interest to most people in western civilisation who have grown up in families with cars. (Though it might nonetheless help them re-evaluate their purchasing priorities!)

1) getting to work (see car sharing);
2) shopping (foraging diverse locations and bringing back stuff that might be cumbersome to carry);
3) helping people to get places (old people, young people...);
4) getting out into the country (if you lived there you'd have one already - or a horse);
5) getting back late at night (see Uber);
6) you can sleep in it (and you should, if you're drunk);
7) win friends and influence people (certain kinds of people, certain types of car);
8 ) participate in a community effort to change the climate;
....

Don't know many who grew up in families with a waveform generators next to the microwave. Hence the video suggestion (which is obviously pretty dull for those who are already at the bar).

Now this been in the back of my mind for a day or two could probably - and probably will - sketch out a pretty decent list myself (full of newbie lack of perspective) but most won't bother and besides videos are FUN!!!
« Last Edit: April 10, 2019, 08:06:35 am by k8943 »
 

Online tggzzz

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Re: top 10 uses for Function Generators
« Reply #19 on: April 10, 2019, 09:03:22 am »
Top use?  Trade a function generator to the building's superintendent so that he will tell you how tall the building is and you can keep the neat clock.

I thought it was a barometer, but maybe that is just an old version of the story before atomic clocks became easily portable :)

It depends on the class.  The last time I took physics, it was a perfectly spherical clock instead of a barometer.

Ah, found my source from 1968, probably referring back to the late 50s. It wasn't in "Random Walks in Science", but the sequel "More Random Walks in Science".


« Last Edit: April 10, 2019, 09:05:29 am by tggzzz »
There are lies, damned lies, statistics - and ADC/DAC specs.
Glider pilot's aphorism: "there is no substitute for span". Retort: "There is a substitute: skill+imagination. But you can buy span".
Having fun doing more, with less
 
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Offline Brumby

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Re: top 10 uses for Function Generators
« Reply #20 on: April 26, 2019, 01:24:12 am »
Like it!   :-+
 

Offline Berni

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Re: top 10 uses for Function Generators
« Reply #21 on: April 26, 2019, 05:42:09 am »
Hah nice one, makes a very valid point too.

This is still the way they teach these days, its encouraged to memorize what they want to hear from you rather than to actually think about the subject.

But at least at the university i went to i have noticed students prefer this way. Most classes ware structured around this sort of memorizing how to solve something, lab work had printed scripts to work along so it was almost like flowing a cooking recipe. But then in the final year there was one professor teaching sensor technology who did his lab work the other way around, on the first day of his class he walked in with a big cardboard box full of various sensors, asked everyone to make groups of 2 students and have each group pick a sensor from the box. The goal was to make the sensor do something usefully, this was generally regarded as getting the sensors output value into a PC and display it. Any way of doing it was allowed, but they are provided with PCB etching tools and PIC MCUs with debuggers if they want to use it. What followed is a solid few minutes of a room of students starring at a sensor in front of them and then a wave of questions what are they supposed to do. So the lecturer had to explain that they can google the partnumber on it to get a datasheet. That went reasonably smoothly since people of my generation know how to use the internet. What followed however was half an hour or looking at the datasheet followed by again a wave of questions what they are supposed to do. Eventually for some reason they got embarrassed of asking the professor for every single step and started showering me with questions and eventually even that stopped but all work on there sensor projects also seamed to halt, by the end of it everyone had half finished PCBs that didn't work or sorta worked. After all of it pretty much everyone was of the opinion this was the worse subject in all 3 years at this uni. While i found this being the most awesome lab work ever.

EDIT:
Oh and at the end of each year its actually mandatory to fill out a anonymous poll about each subject and its professor. There was some award for the best professor, but it was likely mostly used by the universities management to pressure the professors that students are unhappy about. So sadly that professor likely got a pretty awful score on that poll for his lab classes and probably won't be doing them in this open freestyle format much longer.
« Last Edit: April 26, 2019, 05:50:45 am by Berni »
 

Offline bitseeker

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Re: top 10 uses for Function Generators
« Reply #22 on: April 26, 2019, 08:28:28 am »
I remember students like this in the engineering program I went through. They're what I referred to as "textbook engineers." If it was in the textbook, they did well. If it required creativity or thinking about things other than what was explicitly written in books, they were lost. This included their senior projects, where most were published projects that I recognized from electronics magazines. :palm:
I TEA.
 

Online AndyC_772

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Re: top 10 uses for Function Generators
« Reply #23 on: April 26, 2019, 10:09:14 am »
I'm not entirely sure how I feel about this kind of project being set as part of an academic course. As some of you may know, I design sensor products for a living; sometimes these are an off-the-shelf component packaged up in a convenient way for the application, other times they're designed from the ground up starting with the underlying physics.

Learning how to google a data sheet, make sense of it and infer what supporting components a sensor will need is something which can be readily done in industry, and it's the sort of thing I'd fully expect to teach a junior engineer on the job. Being able to do it correctly is more about experience than theory, and you really don't need to take up precious course hours decoding some particular vendor's badly documented register set, or trying to solder a QFN without wrecking it. They're practical skills that I can teach someone quite easily.

In an academic course, I'd hope and expect that students will be taught the principles of operation of these sensors. How do they really work? What are the underlying physical processes going on? What factors influence their readings? What are the fundamental, theoretical limits on how well then can work? Why might a given type of sensor be a good choice in application A, but entirely inappropriate in application B? What knowledge and insight can a graduate bring to my company that I can't read for myself off a manufacturer's data sheet?

 

Online tggzzz

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Re: top 10 uses for Function Generators
« Reply #24 on: April 26, 2019, 11:02:35 am »
I'm not entirely sure how I feel about this kind of project being set as part of an academic course. As some of you may know, I design sensor products for a living; sometimes these are an off-the-shelf component packaged up in a convenient way for the application, other times they're designed from the ground up starting with the underlying physics.

Learning how to google a data sheet, make sense of it and infer what supporting components a sensor will need is something which can be readily done in industry, and it's the sort of thing I'd fully expect to teach a junior engineer on the job. Being able to do it correctly is more about experience than theory, and you really don't need to take up precious course hours decoding some particular vendor's badly documented register set, or trying to solder a QFN without wrecking it. They're practical skills that I can teach someone quite easily.

In an academic course, I'd hope and expect that students will be taught the principles of operation of these sensors. How do they really work? What are the underlying physical processes going on? What factors influence their readings? What are the fundamental, theoretical limits on how well then can work? Why might a given type of sensor be a good choice in application A, but entirely inappropriate in application B? What knowledge and insight can a graduate bring to my company that I can't read for myself off a manufacturer's data sheet?

I would expect a student engineer to:
  • demonstrate that the basic physics/chemistry/mechanics of a device would be suitable for the task
  • demonstrate using a chosen device to accomplish the task
  • define why they did what they did, plus what they would do differently next time
I appreciate not all courses manage to achieve that. My degree course did, and from discussing the comparable course with students last year (open day on 40th anniversary of our graduation!), still does.

You need both solid theory and solid practice to be an engineer. No theory means you are a technician. No practice means you are an academic.

And to trap out a stale discussion, neither engineers nor academics nor technicians are better/worse than the others: you need all of them. Same is true for doctors and nurses.
There are lies, damned lies, statistics - and ADC/DAC specs.
Glider pilot's aphorism: "there is no substitute for span". Retort: "There is a substitute: skill+imagination. But you can buy span".
Having fun doing more, with less
 
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