Arbitrary Function Generators

Arbitrary waveform generators permit the user to design and generate virtually any waveform in addition to the standard function generator signals (i.e. sine wave, square wave, etc.). Waveforms are generated digitally from a computer's memory, and most instruments allow the downloading of digital waveform files from computers.

Ultrasonic generation pulses must be varied to accommodate different types of ultrasonic transducers. General-purpose highly damped contact transducers are usually excited by a wideband, spike-like pulse provided by many common pulser/receiver units. The lightly damped transducers used in high power generation, for example, require a narrowband tone-burst excitation from a separate generator unit. Sometimes the same transducer will be excited differently, such as in the study of the dispersion of a material's ultrasonic attenuation or to characterize ultrasonic transducers.

Section of biphase modulated spread spectrum ultrasonicwaveform. The signal looks like portions of sign waves cut and pasted together.
Section of biphase modulated spread spectrum ultrasonic waveform

In spread spectrum ultrasonics (see spread spectrum page), encoded sound is generated by an arbitrary waveform generator continuously transmitting coded sound into the part or structure being tested. Instead of receiving echoes, spread spectrum ultrasonics generates an acoustic correlation signature having a one-to-one correspondence with the acoustic state of the part or structure (in its environment) at the instant of measurement. In its simplest embodiment, the acoustic correlation signature is generated by cross correlating an encoding sequence (with suitable cross and auto correlation properties) transmitted into a part (structure) with received signals returning from the part (structure).