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Review: Hameg HMF2550Arbitrary Function Generator

This signal generator can deliver a 14-bit arbitrary waveform at 250 megasamples per second, a sine or square wave up to 50MHz or a triangle wave up to 10MHz. It can modulate the amplitude, frequency or phase by another generated or external waveform. It also does Pulse Width Modulation (PWM), Frequency Shift Keying (FSK) and more.

Review by Nicholas Vinen

Because the Hameg HMF2550 is an arbitrary function generator, it can produce practically any repetitive waveform shape with up to 256,000 distinct points. Generating sine, square and triangle waves is easy since they are pre-programmed and accessible via dedicated front panel buttons. The square wave has an adjustable duty cycle while the triangle wave has adjustable symmetry.

It has several other wave shapes stored in ROM such as sawtooth, noise, cardinal sine (“sampling function” or “sinc”) and exponential sawtooth. User-defined waveforms can be stored in RAM or on a USB flash memory drive. They can be entered manually via the front panel (a tedious process), saved from a computer or captured from a Hameg oscilloscope.

It also has a pulse output mode which is ideal for synthesising signals compatible with digital logic inputs.

The unit

Click for larger image
Fig.1: the amplitude modulation feature in action. The 20V peak-peak 1MHz sine wave is being modulated by a lower frequency triangle wave over 100% of the amplitude range.

The HMF2550 is housed in a slim, attractive case about two rack units high. The control panel is uncluttered despite the many pushbuttons, some of which illuminate to show the current mode. The display is a 9cm colour TFT LCD which is small but also bright and sharp.

Three BNC connectors are mounted on the front panel – the signal output, the trigger input and the trigger output. The trigger output is useful for synchronising an oscilloscope or another signal generator. There is also a USB connector for connection of flash drives containing custom waveforms.

There are four more BNC sockets on the rear panel – the external modulation input, the ramp output (more on this later), the 10MHz frequency reference output and a frequency reference input for synchronisation. There is also a second USB port for connection to a computer along with an RS-232 serial port and the mains power socket.

Accessories supplied include the power cord, user manual and software CD.

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