A function generators generates a variety of periodic waveform of different periods and amplitudes. Also known by the name of signal generator or waveform generator, this device can create a wide range of AC signals, which are further utilized in the production and testing of electronic equipment.
This article walks through the best function generators that you can buy for yourself today. Let us know which function generator you choose in the comments section at end of article.
Rigol Function Generators ($358.00)
This is Rigol’s 25Mhz arbitrary waveform generator with dual channels. It can output five standard waveforms and has 48 built-in arbitrary waveforms. The modulation functions featured are AM, FM, PM, FSK, linear/logarithm Sweep and burst. Also, the instrument provides ten nonvolatile memory slots for storing arbitrary custom waves. The phases from two channels could be synchronous while output is based on the “AligPha” function from the operation menu. Supports USB flash drives.
“I have wanted a function generator for some time to test/try some of the projects that I have built. I bought a Rigol oscilloscope and was pleased with the quality and functionality, so I decided to try the same on the function generator and was not disappointed. It has two channels that can be turned on and off and controlled separately. It comes with the standard sine wave, sawtooth, triangle, pulse / square wave and many default different signals. You can also build your signal, although I have not tried to do this yet.
After an hour of playing with it, I can have it do everything I need for my projects.” – Amazon’s Customer Review.
Kuman Function Generators ($89.99)
This is Kuman’s 2MHz, a dual-channel function generator with four pulse square columns. The product features an output signal frequency of high accuracy, good stability and a signal amplitude up to 20Vpp. The instrument can output sine, square, triangle, ramp, pulse, staircase, DC voltage waveform. Detailed specifications can be found on the manufacturer’s page below.
“Pros: 1. A lot of functionality. 2. Very flexible to use. 3. Very affordable.
Cons: 1. Somewhat off in frequency and amplitude; adjustments for manual calibration of those parameters by the user would be desirable – perhaps a software upgrade? 2. The instruction booklet is a bit difficult to follow; some flow diagrams showing the steps for configuring signals would be helpful. A YouTube video I found was useful for that.” – Amazon’s Customer Review.
B&K Precision Function Generators ($669.58)
This unit by B & K is a sweep function generator with 0.2Hz to 20MHz frequency range. The unit combines several functions into one making it extremely versatile including waveform generation, pulse generation (through variable symmetry), and frequency sweep. Additionally, the instrument provides the added convenience of a built-in frequency counter. This permits more accurate determination of output frequency than is possible with a simple calibrated dial. Coarse and fine tuning controls allow precision stability of the output frequency. The internal frequency counter can also be used to measure external rates. The five-digit frequency counter displays the generator output frequency or external signals from 5 to 30 MHz.
“Works great, generates nice clean signals up to the rated frequency, and has enough waveform shaping to get me close enough for the kind of test inputs that I need. Moderately priced, and so far it’s been trouble-free and reliable.” – Amazon’s Customer Review.
Siglent Technologies Function Generators ($463.97)
This unit by Siglent Technologies is also an arbitrary waveform function generator featuring dual channels, 40 MHz (Sine wave) and touch screen display. It has 16-bit vertical resolution incorporating sweep, modulation, and burst mode with secure pulse technology. The unit has a built-in high precision frequency counter and can be interfaced with USB and LAN. The unit offers offer a 1.2 Gsa/s interpolated sample rate.
“Generator arrived on time, appears to be working as expected – I’ll be checking it with a spectrum analyser and scope in a few weeks when I can borrow those items. For now, I can generate/modulate a tone that I can hear on an AM Radio and CB radios, at the frequency I expect, so I assume it’s good for the rest of the band.
The fan is mute. The unit has USB and Ethernet interfaces. Additional programming manuals and documentation can be downloaded from Siglent website.
As an example, the firmware would not allow me to program a 1% duty cycle directly (5-95%), but by specifying the number of cycles at the desired frequency in burst mode, I was easily able to program a 27.12 MHz burst of 271 cycles every 1mS (a 1% duty cycle on a 1KHz pulse output at 27.12MHz), and program the amplitude as output voltage into 50 ohm load.
I have no issues with the unit yet; it works as described. Included a short quick-start guide and a CD with software and additional documentation.” – Amazon’s Customer Review.
Jinwen Function Generators ($86.50)
This is Jinwen’s 24MHz, dual-channel, arbitrary waveform function generator with the kit. The unit features output signal with high accuracy and stability. The signal amplitude can go up to 20Vpp, and the pulse wave is adjustable. The unit supports user defined waveforms and has burst output, selectable manual trigger and internal/external trigger. You can find the detailed specifications in the link below.
“I was blown away by the form and function of this device. It looks great on my workbench and has a tonne of features that work well. I especially like the USB interface, though I wish there were a better control app.” – Amazon’s Customer Review.
KKmoon Function Generators ($79.99)
This is KKmoon’s high-precision, digital, dual-channel, waveform generator which can output arbitrary waveforms and conventional function waveforms. All functions are digitally controlled, precise and stable.With 120% ~ + 120% DC bias function, dual-channel output, it can work in synchronisation while phase difference is adjustable. It also features linear sweep and logarithmic frequency sweep functions. It has frequency measurement, period measurement, positive and negative pulse width measurement, duty cycle measurements and counting function.
“It’s darn good. The signals are crisp and clear on my analogue scope. The amplitude settings seem dead on. The software is a big plus (must), making it very easy to setup and designing arbitrary waveforms which add some flexibility to the unit. There is third party software available as well for developing your even more arbitrary waveforms. I also liked that you can output to both channels at the same time and with entirely different waveforms and frequencies.It also came with a convenient TTL interface that plugs into the back of the unit. As stated in the other review the 25 MHz model only puts out a sine wave at that frequency. All other waveforms are limited to around 6 MHz before they start to distort. And at 25 MHz they all looked like a sine wave. The frequency counter seems to work OK, but I don’t have a calibrated device to measure its accuracy. Three negatives. One the manual is lacking clarity on the operation and functionality of the instrument. Two, the software on the CD was corrupted, and it took me nearly a day to find their website, no thanks to the seller in helping me. It took three tries to download the 110 MB file and close to two hours on the final try as their download speed averaged about 350 kbps (sic). Three, selecting a waveform, frequency, retrieving or storing to memory and selection of other functions is clunky without the software. Some of the buttons have dual functions, so you have to push a “shift” button first to access the second function. They also located the on/off switch on the back of the unit. Overall, for under a $100 it will meet my needs, I don’t work in a lab or calibrate instruments, but as an engineer, it does a lot for the money.” – Amazon’s Customer Review.
JYETech Function Generator ($59.95)
This unit by JYTech features a portable function/signal generator and servo controller. Includes function generator, output cable (BNC to alligator clips), power supply and quick reference guide. The frequency ranges from approx. 0 – 200KHz (Sine) and amplitude from 0 – 10V peak-to-peak. Measures 155 X 55 X 30 mm.
- Generates continuous waveforms of Sine, Square, Triangle, Ramp (up and down), and Staircase (up and down)
- Generates servo test/control signals in micro-second resolution with user programmable pulse width, amplitude, and cycle
- Setting of frequency (or period), amplitude, and offset is done digitally, not with often-finicky knob
- Frequency (period), amplitude, and offset can be incrementally adjusted with rotary encoder
- Settings are remembered even after power-down.
- Can be used as an adjustable DC voltage source by setting amplitude to 0
“Less than 5 minutes to see how to work it. I have not checked the waveforms yet, but it is small and should meet my needs. I need a battery power option, so I will have to look into adapting something. Digital entry of settings plus incremental changes using a digital knob. The display is brilliant doing the easy reading, even from a distance. Comes with BNC to alligator clip test lead, instruction sheet, and a wall power supply. The box is suitable for storage. A small project cabinet would be an excellent option.” – Amazon’s Customer Review.
GW Instek Function Generators ($167.16)
This unit by GW Instek features a 6-digit, LED display, 0.1Hz to 3MHz frequency function generator. The unit has a highly accurate display and FPGA chip design. You can select output waveform selection from sine, square, triangle and TTL. Measures 251mm width by 91mm height by 291mm depth.
“Arrived on time, works as advertised. Best value for a bench function generator. Mostly I do line power, clocks, timers, oscillators, timers, engine, engine controls and generators output and monitoring modules. From 60-400 Hz, no radio-type frequencies. I use it to set up my oscilloscope; it was all I needed.” – Amazon’s Customer Review.
Siglent Function Generator ($327.97)
This is also an arbitrary waveform generator by Siglent featuring a frequency of 25MHz and 125MSa/s sampling rate. Ideal for use in analogue sensor, real environmental signals, circuit function test, IC test, E-Education.
Product Features By The Manufacturers:
- Apply DDS technology, double output, adjustable phase, the highest output frequency is 25MHz
- 125MSa/s sample rate, 14bit vertical resolution, 16Kpts wavelength
- Output 5 types of standard waveform, internally installed 48 types of waveform
- Abundant modulation function, sweep-frequency production, pulse train output
- Can connect to SDS1000 series digital oscilloscope correctly, and support remote command control
“I bought this for a couple of reasons. First, I’ve been doing some radio alignment and would like a stable 10.7Mhz frequency generator. Second, I wanted to replace some of my older gear, like my old 2Mhz BK precision generator.
I own several different frequency generators, ranging from the 1950s and 1960s era tube equipment to 1980s analogue generators, to a generator I built from a Nuts & Volts article to this one. I have to say; this one is by far the most versatile and precise. You can punch in exactly what you want, and it’s rock solid. It does every sort of modulation I could want. It has two channels. It supports sweep (necessary for radio alignment work). It has an external trigger output (really nice for the radio alignment work). It’s very easy to use, and the interface is user-friendly. It even has a frequency counter built into it (used in place of one of the channels). I really can’t say enough good things about this product. I highly recommend it.
If you’re handy with a soldering iron, there is a modification you can perform to replace the onboard oscillator with a TCXO (temperature compensated crystal oscillator) for additional accuracy. Doing so would, of course, void the warranty.” – Amazon’s Customer Review.
TOTMC Function Generator ($37.99)
This is a compact, simple in operation and easy to operate function generator. You can use the adapter as well as a lithium battery. Together with the oscilloscope, it can be used to test and measure electronic circuit testing, debugging, audio amplifier frequency characteristics and impulse response. The frequency ranges from Sine 1Hz-500kHz, other waveforms 1Hz-20kHz and has a resolution of 1Hz. Output waveforms: sine, square, triangle wave, sawtooth forward, reverse sawtooth.
“This function generator is a good value. I purchased this to generate audio signals to set levels at a radio station, so I am mainly interested in sine wave output. It does have a few quirks. With no and the output knob set to maximum with no load, the waveform looks good. The output was 7.11 Volts RMS at 100Hz, 1kHz, and 10kHz, but at 100kHz, the output fell to 6.9 Volts. With a one kilohm load, the output voltage dropped to about 6.5 Volts, and there was some distortion of the bottom half of the waveform. The distortion disappeared when the output knob was turned down. I noticed that there was some dc offset even when the DC Offset button was not pressed, and it varied from -141mV at 4V RMS output, to +71mV at 100mV output. At 1.4V output, the offset was zero. I could always eliminate the dc offset using the button and the knob. I suspect the offset is asymmetry in the waveform. The function generator did not come with a manual, but if you’re buying one of these, you are the kind of person who wouldn’t need it anyway. Although it can take quite a few button presses to produce the waveform you want, it is not confusing to use. There are smartphone applications that can create these signals, too, but I don’t have a smart phone. I can also understand someone being reluctant to connect a delicate phone headphone jack to a circuit under test. This device is a lot less expensive than the typical phone. So, to sum up, it works well in the middle part of its operating range, it’s inexpensive, and it’s easy to use.” – Amazon’s Customer Review.
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