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Waveform Oscillators

1. A Square Wave Generator One requirement in a wide range of applications is a spontaneous source of some continuous signal, having a regular and definable wave shape. One of the most important of these is a squarewave.

The circuit to the right uses a comparator with both positive and negative feedback to control its output voltage. Because the negative feedback path uses a capacitor while the positive feedback path does not, however, there is a time delay before the comparator is triggered to change state. As a result, the circuit oscillates, or keeps changing state back and forth at a predictable rate. Because no effort is made to limit the output voltage, it will switch from one extreme to the other. If we assume it starts at 10 volts, then the voltage at the "+" input will be set by R2 and
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R1 to a fixed voltage equal to -10R1/(R1 + R2) volts. This then becomes the reference voltage for the comparator, and the output will remain unchanged until the "-" input becomes more negative than this value. But the "-" input is connected to a capacitor (C) which is gradually charging in a negative direction through resistor Rf. Since C is charging towards -10 volts, but the reference voltage at the "+" input is necessarily smaller than the -10 volt limit, eventually the capacitor will charge to a voltage that exceeds the reference voltage. When that happens, the circuit will immediately change state. The output will become +10 volts and the reference voltge will abruptly become positive rather than negative. Now the capacitor will charge towards +10 volts, and the other half of the cycle will take place. The output frequency is given by the approximate equation:

fout = 2RfC ln (

1 2R1 +1) R2

In practice, circuit values are chosen such that R1 is approximately Rf/3, and R2 is in the range of 2 to 10 times R1 2. Generating Triangle Waves In the basic square wave generator circuit, a graduallycharging capacitor was used to help set the timing or frequency of the circuit. However, since it was only charging through a
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resistor, it necessarily charged on a logarithmic curve, rather than as a linear ramp.

In the circuit to the right, we use a separate integrator to generate a ramp voltage from the generated square wave. As a result, we can get both waveforms from a single circuit. The phase relationship shown between the two output waveforms is correct remember that the integrator inverts as well as integrating, so it will produce a negative-going ramp for a positive input voltage, and vice-versa. Because we are now using an op amp integrator to get the triangle wave, we no longer have a logarithmic response anywhere in the circuit. Therefore, the equation for the operating frequency is simplified to: 1 fout = 4RtC ( R1 R2 )

The squarewave amplitude is still the limit of voltage transistion, which we are assuming here to be 10 volts. The triangle wave's amplitude is set by the ratio of R1/R2. Note that for this circuit to function, it is necessary that R1 be less than R2. This keeps the triangle amplitude less than the square wave amplitude. It is also necessary for the resistor values to be within a reasonable range for correct operation of the op amps. Therefore is no restriction on the value of C. 3. A Sine Wave Generator This circuit lends itself nicely to a dual op amp. All three capacitors are the same, and R1 is made very slightly less than R to ensure that oscillations will start when power is applied. Under these conditions, the frequency of oscillation is f = 1/(2 RC). The maximum frequency of this type is determined by the frequency response of the op amps you use. Loop gain will decrease as frequency increases, and oscillations cannot be sustained if the loop gain is less than 1. Because the loop gain of this circuit must be greater than 1 to maintain oscillations, this circuit will also tend to clip the output waveforms.With both sine and cosine waves available, this circuit is sometimes known as a quadrature oscillator.