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oscillator, electronic

electronic oscillator (ŏs´əlā´tər), electronic circuit that produces an output signal of a specific frequency. An oscillator generally consists of an amplifier having part of its output returned to the input by means of a feedback loop; the necessary and sufficient condition for oscillation is that the signal, in passing from input to output and back to input via the feedback loop, arrive at the input with no change in amplitude or phase. If this condition is met for only a single frequency, the output is a pure sine wave; if it is met for more than one frequency, the output is a complex wave. Some oscillators are designed to operate under certain conditions so that the output is a square wave, a triangular wave, or a pulse. In some cases, a very stable mechanical oscillator, such as a specially prepared quartz crystal, may be coupled to an electronic oscillator to enhance its frequency stability. The frequency of a voltage-controlled oscillator, used in frequency modulation, is automatically adjusted by a small control current.

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oscillator

oscillator An electronic circuit that switches back and forth between states. Oscillators are mainly used to provide clock signals or a frequency reference, in which applications they are normally crystal controlled. A specialized form is the VCO (voltage controlled oscillator) in which the frequency may be modified within limits by a control voltage, the free-running frequency being determined by external components.

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oscillator

oscillator In physics, a device for producing electrical oscillations (vibrations), such as sound waves, as in a sonar or an ultrasonic generator. In electronics, an oscillator circuit converts direct current (DC) electricity into high-frequency alternating current (AC).

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oscillator

oscillator. That part of electrical generator which produces a repetitive waveform. The term is sometimes used to mean the whole generator.

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