The basic output waveform and related parameters of the arbitrary waveform generator

Posted on: December 15th, 2020 by Doug Lovell

Traditional function generators can output standard waveforms such as sine waves, square waves, and triangle waves. However, in actual test scenarios, in order to simulate the complex conditions of the product in actual use, it is often necessary to artificially create some “irregular” waveforms or add some specific distortion to a waveform. Traditional function generators can no longer meet the requirements and an arbitrary waveform generator may be a good option.

Arbitrary waveform generators can easily replace the function generators. They can source sine waves, square waves, and triangle waves like a standard function generator. In addition, they can also output pulse, noise, DC signal types, modulated signals, sweeps and bursts. Many arbitrary waveform generators currently on the market are equipped with arbitrary waveform drawing software. Through this software, theoretically, the arbitrary waveform generator can be remotely controlled to output all the signals required in the test process.

So, what types of waveforms can an arbitrary waveform generator output?
What parameters are available for an arbitrary waveform?
How to measure the quality of the output waveform?

  1. Sine Wave / Cosine Wave


Figure 1 Sine wave / Cosine wave

Sinusoidal (sine) and cosine waves are the two most familiar waveforms in electronics.
Sine/cosine waves are defined as follows.

  (Formula 1)


  (Formula 2)

Where A represents the amplitude of the sine wave,  represents the angular frequency, and  represents the initial phase, which can be omitted in the general calculation. The sine and the cosine waves are essentially the same, but the initial phase differs by 90 °.

Figure 2 Sine wave setting interface in SDG1000X