Basic function generators generally can generate basic periodic waveforms such as sine wave, square wave, triangle wave, ramp wave, pulse wave and so on. Modern function generators nowadays have a very important feature called modulation. With the advent of radio wave telegraphy in the 19th century by Guglielmo Marconi and later the wide band FM radio in the 20th century by Edwin Howard Armstrong, radio waves are generally modulated by its carrier waves for efficient, long-range transmissions.
AM (amplitude modulation) and FM (frequency modulation) have been and are still very important electrical transmission techniques for radio communications. They have also evolved into sophisticated techniques such as QAM (quadrature amplitude modulation), FSK (frequency-shift keying) and more, that are used in short range wireless links such as Wi-Fi to long-range telecommunications networks.
Advanced modulation features in modern function generators
Here in this blog, let us explore some advance modulation features on a modern function generator.
AM (Amplitude Modulation)
Amplitude modulation by a carrier sine wave is by far the most common in terms of usage. Figure 1 shows the graphical settings of a function generator modulated by sine wave with AM Depth of 100% and AM Frequency of 100 Hz. The original data sine wave has a frequency of 1 kHz.
Modern function generators can do more than just generate sine wave as carrier signal for waveform modulation. Figure 2 shows some examples of other types of signals that are used as carrier signals for waveform modulations (other than sine wave).
Modern function generators can be quite versatile. You can also choose the source of your AM modulation from another channel of your function generator without any external connections or from an external source. For example, you can use waveform from Channel 2 to modulate your waveform from Channel 1.
FM (Frequency Modulation)
Frequency modulation has been the best-known analog modulation method for radio broadcasting for more than half a century. Its applications have grown into video broadcasting, critical medical monitoring systems, radar and more.
Here is an example of how to setup a function generator to simulate FM signal. Figure 3 above shows frequency modulation on a 1 kHz sine wave. The modulation method used is also a sine wave with FM frequency of 10 Hz. Its peak frequency deviation is 100 Hz.
PM (Phase Modulation)
Phase modulation is widely used in digital data transmissions through digital modulation techniques such as PSK (Phase-shift keying), BPSK (Binary phase-shift keying), QPSK (Quadrature phase-shift keying) and more. It is used in Wi-Fi, GSM and satellite broadcasting transmissions.
Here is an example of how to setup a function generator to simulate PM signal. Figure 4 above shows phase modulation on a 1 kHz sine wave. The modulation signal used is also a sine wave with PM frequency of 200 Hz. Its phase deviation is 180°.
FSK (Frequency-shift keying) / BPSK (Binary phase-shift keying)
There are many types of digital modulation techniques available today. The common ones are FSK (frequency-shift keying) and BPSK (binary phase-shift keying). These digital modulation techniques are used in many applications such as digital radio transmissions, RFID, Bluetooth and more.
Here is an example of how to setup a function generator to simulate an FSK signal. Figure 5 above shows frequency-shift keying modulation on a 1 kHz carrier sine wave. The hop (or alternate) frequency is set at 100 Hz. The FSK rate is set at 10 Hz, which is the rate at which output frequency "shifts" between the carrier and hop frequency.
Here is an example of how to setup a function generator to simulate BPSK signal. Figure 6 above shows binary phase-shift keying modulation on a 1 kHz carrier sine wave. The BPSK rate is the rate at which the output phase "shifts" between the carrier and offset phase. The BPSK phase setting in this case is 180° (phase shift in degrees). Typically, you have the option to set the phase shift from 0° to 360°.
SUM (Sum modulation)
Sum modulation adds a modulating signal to any carrier waveform; it is typically used to add gaussian noise to a carrier. The modulating signal is added to the carrier as a percentage of carrier waveform amplitude.
Figure above shows how we can use sum modulation to add measured noise to the carrier signal. This figure shows noise with an amplitude of 30% (referencing to carrier amplitude) and a noise bandwidth of 100 kHz was added to the sine wave carrier signal.
The Keysight 33600A series function generator accepts both internal and external modulation sources. On a two-channel instrument you can modulate one channel with the other. When using internal source as modulation, we can select sine, square, triangle, up ramp, down ramp, noise, PRBS and arbitrary waveforms as source of modulation.
We have just explored some advance modulation features and how intuitive the configuration setup can be using a Keysight 33600A.
If this blog helps provide you with more insight into generating modulated signals, please give it a ‘like’. If you have further questions on this topic, you can always reply to this blog.
For more information about Keysight’s 33600A Trueform function generators, please go to: http://www.keysight.com/find/function-generators
Thanks for reading!