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What is a Pulse Generator?

By Christy Bieber
Updated May 17, 2024
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A pulse generator is an electrical device that may be used as an internal source of signal to a circuit. It may also be used as an external source of signal to a device through the generation of constant or maintained signal pulses. The pulse generator is used to deliver a signal as well as to measure the amount of signal a device is receiving. It can use both digital as well as analog circuitry to generate the pulses it provides.

Pulse generators are also capable of providing both high and low voltage pulses. The pulses generated will vary depending on the need determined by the user. Pulse generators are often used internally to power timed trigger devices within electronic circuits.

Newer pulse generators are also capable of generating signal pulses at different widths and frequencies. This allows them to be used in circuits that require more than one triggering mechanism at a time. This was a problem for older units, mainly because of the fact that older pulse generator units had to be ganged onto a circuit either in sequence or parallel in order to function properly, meaning they could not vary in width or frequency.

The width of a pulse is basically another term for the duration of time in which the pulse or signal is being delivered. Most of the newer pulse generator units are capable of generating pulse durations of over a minute per pulse, down to a fraction of a second. Some of the more complex and expensive pulse generator circuits are capable of producing anywhere from one to upwards of 30 billion pulses within a single second. These pulse generators are usually referred to as RACE pulse generators, which is an acronym for Rapid Automatic Cascode Exchange.

Pulse generators can also be used outside of electrical circuitry, mainly in research applications in fields such as science and medical technology. The bulk of these devices are used as trigger devices for larger circuits that operate automated machinery. They are excellent for this purpose due to their timing abilities and regulation capacities within functioning electrical circuits.

Such generators are also used in testing applications. There, they may be used either to make sure a certain signal is reaching its destination within a circuit or to single out a source of fault within an electrical circuit. In most cases, testing pulse generators use a single diode light, or LED, to let the user know when the fault within the circuit occurs.

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