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What Is a Comb Generator?

Jean Marie Asta
Jean Marie Asta

A comb generator is a type of signal generator — a piece of electronic equipment that emits a regular pattern of signals. Other types of signal generators include vector signal generators, analog signal generators, function generators and arbitrary waveform generators. This generator is more complex than other types of signal generators. It operates with microwave frequencies and is extremely sensitive.

When the comb generator is employed, a signal from a product being tested is run through the generator. The comb generator itself in turn gives off its own signal in the form of multiple harmonics. Visual representations of the frequencies put off by the generator come in the form of spiked waves that almost look like the individual teeth in a comb.

Woman holding a book
Woman holding a book

While it may be more common to see the comb generator used in commercial or industrial settings, it can also be useful for individuals who do a lot of home electronics projects. The apparatus is small and portable and more useful than other types of signal generators because it is not as easily affected by distortion or temperature from the surrounding environment. Most models will include an antenna and some have a battery operation option.

Different types of signal generators fall into the comb generator category. Some of these are harmonic generators, harmonic frequency generators, frequency generators, sweep generators, and RF signal generators. Each of these differs to a lesser or greater degree and is more useful for certain applications than others. For example, the harmonic frequency generator takes the frequency emitted by an electronic device and puts out multiple harmonics that can be studied in detail upon the spectrum analyzer where waveforms are visually given, while sweep generators can emit frequencies that are in a constant state of flux.

Individuals or companies interested in purchasing a comb generator can find them for sale at the websites of manufacturers or in specialized electronics stores. These devices are very expensive. The average cost will come out to approximately $10,000 USD, depending on the model. Prices will vary to a certain extent based on the input and output frequency ranges of different models, durability, portability, battery options, and overall quality. Such costs will seem exorbitant to most individuals, but the comb generator is much more commonly used in manufacturing and industry than in a residential setting.

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