DDS-based Rasp Pi function generator

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© Lead Image © lightwise, 123RF.com

© Lead Image © lightwise, 123RF.com

Article from Issue 225/2019
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A touch display, a case, and a custom add-on board transform the humble Rasp Pi into a high-performance function generator that rivals expensive commercial offerings.

Modern laboratory instruments are a marvel of integration, combining hardware, software, and often mechanical components to produce versatile and highly functional units that bring real value to the engineers and technologists who use them. In this article, I aim to show how such an instrument might be put together by combining the Raspberry Pi with several elements to provide a low-cost and flexible function generator that can rival its more expensive commercial cousins on price and possibly beat them in terms of flexibility.

Function Generator

A signal or function generator is a versatile frequency source able to output a signal in a number of output waveshapes and at an adjustable amplitude and frequency from direct current (DC) up into the high-frequency electromagnetic radio frequency (RF) region, depending on the application. Sophisticated instruments can also include frequency, phase, or amplitude modulation useful for testing radio transmitters and receivers.

No engineer's workbench is complete without such an instrument. Together with an oscilloscope, it allows an engineer to characterize the frequency and phase response of an amplifier, to test and calibrate counters and frequency meters, and to replace built-in oscillators in devices under test or during development.

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