What Is a Voltage-Controlled Oscillator?


Quick Answer

A voltage-controlled oscillator is an electronic device that receives a voltage input and then outputs a moving signal with a frequency based on that input. With most voltage-controlled oscillators, the output frequency increases as the input voltage increases.

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Full Answer

The function that relates output frequency to input voltage is most commonly linear, but it can also be defined by some other mathematical relationship. Voltage-controlled oscillators that have linear control parameters are sometimes referred to as voltage-to-frequency converters.

The two main types of voltage-controlled oscillators are linear or harmonic oscillators and relaxation oscillators. Linear voltage-controlled oscillators output sinusoidal, or curved, waveforms, while relaxation oscillators emit triangular or saw-tooth waveforms.

Voltage-controlled oscillators are used in several applications, including phase locked loops, function generators and synthesizers.

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