signal generator

Top 4 Best Function Generators under $299 (2024 Review)

Function generators are a staple piece of electronic equipment found on most engineers’ workbenchs. They are found side by side with oscilloscopes and spectrum analyzers. They are also called waveform generators, signal generators, and frequency generators with minor differences between them.

Preview
Best Buy
Koolertron Upgraded 15MHz DDS Signal Generator Counter,High...
Editors Choice
Siglent Technologies SDG1032X Arbitrary Waveform - Function...
Top Pick
OWON DGE2070 Arbitrary Waveform Generator Dual-Channel 70...
Most Reviewed
Goupchn Programmable DDS Signal Generator 60MHz Dual Channel...
Title
Koolertron Upgraded 15MHz DDS Signal Generator Counter,High...
Siglent Technologies SDG1032X Arbitrary Waveform - Function...
OWON DGE2070 Arbitrary Waveform Generator Dual-Channel 70...
Goupchn Programmable DDS Signal Generator 60MHz Dual Channel...
Max Frequency
15MHz
30MHZ
70MHZ
80MHz
Sample Rate
200MSA/S
150MSA/S
300MSA/S
300MSA/S
Max Voltage Amplitude
10V
10V
10V
10V
Prime
Amazon Prime
Amazon Prime
Amazon Prime
Amazon Prime
Best Buy
Preview
Koolertron Upgraded 15MHz DDS Signal Generator Counter,High...
Title
Koolertron Upgraded 15MHz DDS Signal Generator Counter,High...
Max Frequency
15MHz
Sample Rate
200MSA/S
Max Voltage Amplitude
10V
Prime
Amazon Prime
Editors Choice
Preview
Siglent Technologies SDG1032X Arbitrary Waveform - Function...
Title
Siglent Technologies SDG1032X Arbitrary Waveform - Function...
Max Frequency
30MHZ
Sample Rate
150MSA/S
Max Voltage Amplitude
10V
Prime
Amazon Prime
Top Pick
Preview
OWON DGE2070 Arbitrary Waveform Generator Dual-Channel 70...
Title
OWON DGE2070 Arbitrary Waveform Generator Dual-Channel 70...
Max Frequency
70MHZ
Sample Rate
300MSA/S
Max Voltage Amplitude
10V
Prime
Amazon Prime
Most Reviewed
Preview
Goupchn Programmable DDS Signal Generator 60MHz Dual Channel...
Title
Goupchn Programmable DDS Signal Generator 60MHz Dual Channel...
Max Frequency
80MHz
Sample Rate
300MSA/S
Max Voltage Amplitude
10V
Prime
Amazon Prime

Siglent SDG1032X
Arbitrary Waveform Generator
(30 MHz)

Siglent Technologies SDG1032X Arbitrary Waveform - Function Generator 30 MHz Max output frequency SDG1032X Waveform

This machine is some serious bang for the buck. Siglent turned up the heat with notable features that include:

  • Frequency max of 30MHz
  • A sampling rate of 150 MSa/s
  • Vertical Resolution of 14-bit
  • Max Amplitude is 10V
  • Interface communication with USB Host, USB Device, LAN

Pros

  • Exceptionally affordable entry-level waveform generator.
  • Intuitively designed interface; remarkably user-friendly.
  • Boasts commendable quality, ideal for dedicated home hobbyists.
  • Efficiently fulfills clocking requirements when needed.

Cons

  • Limited storage capacity (16K points) may hinder versatility.
  • Software compatibility issues may arise, particularly with Win 7 64-bit systems.
  • Inability to import custom waveform shapes may restrict flexibility.
  • Insufficiently detailed manual may lead to frustration.

Overall, I would highly recommend the Siglent Technologies SDG1032X to anyone looking for a versatile and affordable signal function generator. Whether you’re a hobbyist or a professional, this generator is sure to meet your needs. One of the standout features of the SDG1032X is its ability to offset the phase between CH1 and CH2. This is incredibly useful for a wide range of applications, from audio testing to frequency response analysis. The harmonics generation mode is another great feature, allowing you to generate harmonics up to the 8th order.

Koolertron GH-CJDS66
DDS Signal Generator Counter
(15MHz)

Koolertron Signal Generator

If you’re an amateur technician or student (and on a budget), this low-frequency signal generator is worth considering. Features include:

  • Frequency max of 15MHz
  • A sampling rate of 200 MSa/s
  • Vertical Resolution of 14-bit
  • Max Amplitude is 10V
  • Interface communication with USB cable

Pros

  • Exceptional accuracy and smooth controls.
  • Satisfactory display and impressive value.
  • Suitable for day-to-day use and testing circuits.
  • Accurate frequencies and lightweight design.

Cons

  • Limited customer support; firmware update issues may arise.
  • Loose BNC connectors may affect connectivity.
  • Output may lack power for long cables.
  • Subpar documentation; defective components may be present.

Best value amongst this group. I have this in my lab (see my setup in the main image) as my daily signal generator. The internal circuit uses an active crystal oscillator as the benchmark, which greatly strengthens the signal stability. Additionally, the dual-channel DDS signal and TTL electric level output generate precise, stable, low-distortion output signals. Small, lost cost, and easy signal generator to use. Perfect for amateur electronic technicians or a daily signal generator (like my Prius commute car).

OWON DGE2070
Arbitrary Waveform Generator
(70 MHz)

OWON DGE2070 Arbitrary Waveform Generator

If you’re looking for a versatile signal function generator, the OWON DGE2070 is worth considering. With its dual-channel waveform generator and 70MHz frequency output, it provides comprehensive waveform output and modulation functions. Features include:

  • Frequency max of 70MHz
  • A sampling rate of 300 MSa/s
  • Vertical Resolution of 14-bit
  • Max Amplitude is 10V
  • Interface communication with USB cable

Pros

  • High-frequency range (70 MHz) for versatile waveform generation.
  • Intuitive user interface for easy operation.
  • Compact and portable design.
  • Advanced features like modulation capabilities.

Cons

  • Higher price compared to some alternatives.
  • Limited frequency range may not suit all needs.
  • Complex features may have a learning curve.
  • Documentation may be insufficient.

Overall, I recommend this to those who want a plethora of waveforms, a high frequency at the best price, and wide modulation functions. It may not be the most affordable option, but its accuracy and precision make it worth the investment. The device’s user interface can take some getting used to, but once you get the hang of it, you’ll find it easy to use.

Goupchn PSG9080
Programmable Signal Generator
(80MHZ)

Goupchn Programmable DDS Signal Generator

If you’re looking for a versatile signal generator, I highly recommend the Goupchn Programmable DDS Signal Generator. It’s a great investment for anyone who needs a reliable and powerful signal generator. Features include:

  • Frequency max of 80MHz
  • A sampling rate of 300 MSa/s
  • Vertical Resolution of 14-bit
  • Max Amplitude is 10V
  • Interface communication with USB cable

Pros

  • Excellent frequency accuracy after warm-up.
  • Very good AC amplitude accuracy.
  • Compact and portable compared to older models.
  • External modulation capability is a plus for RF applications.

Cons

  • Firmware update may not resolve issues.
  • Voltage instability during frequency sweeps may occur.
  • Square wave output may not be ideal at higher frequencies.
  • Some users report stability issues at higher frequencies.

I’ve been using this signal generator for a while now, and I’m impressed with its performance. The programmable output is a real game-changer, making it easy to customize the waveform output and automate my work. The firmware upgrade feature is also a nice touch, enabling me to update the generator’s firmware and the Windows software actually works!

What does a Function Generator Do?

Signal function generators generate electrical signals that simulate various waveforms, including sine, square, sawtooth, and triangular. They are a staple when it comes to testing and troubleshooting electronic circuits, as well as in research and development.

How to Choose the Best Signal Function Generator?

When choosing a signal function generator, there are a few critical things to consider. First, the frequency range is essential, and it should match the requirements of your specific application. The output voltage range is also important, as it determines the maximum amplitude of the signal that can be generated. Some key metrics to look out for when comparing signal generators. These include:

Frequency Range and Amplitude

The frequency range of a signal function generator determines the range of frequencies that the generator can produce. Most people are fine with just 1MHz. But if you are a serious electronics engineer, then you will need serious high-end frequencies exceeding 50MHz.

The amplitude range of a signal function generator determines the range of signal amplitudes that it can produce in terms of voltage amplitude output.

Waveform Types & Modulation

Different signal function generators can produce different types of waveforms. The most common waveforms are sine, square, and triangle waves. However, some generators can produce more complex waveforms such as sawtooth, pulse, and noise.

Some signal function generators have modulation capabilities that allow you to modulate the frequency, amplitude, or phase of a signal. This can be useful for testing communication systems or for creating more complex signals.

  • Some excellent signal generators for less than $299.
  • Check to see your max frequency required since this is a major performance metric signal generators are categorized by.
  • There are many specs to watch for, especially if you are looking at stability and high-frequency performance.
  • All 4 generators reviewed here are recommended, the main drivers differentiating them are price points and top-end frequency.
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