A DSP-based mixed-signal waveform generator
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As it currently stands, waveform generators are being employed in many diverse areas, such as radar applications, communication systems, simulation, and testing. There is considerable interest in exploring the beacon of opportunity posed by using digital signal processor (DSP)-based systems to replace costly and inadequate conventional waveform generators. The availability of high performance DSPs allows for the design of highly flexible equipment capable of real-time processing. The arbitrary waveform generator introduced in this paper consists of a DSP, a FIFO memory, a video palette, and a PC interface. A program running on the PC creates a digital representation of a waveform according to user parameters and sends it to the DSP's RAM. The DSP algorithmically converts the digital representation to a point-by-point representation of the desired analog signal. The data points are sent to the FIFO buffer, which latches the data to a video palette that serves a three-channel digital-to-analog converter. The system employs a high-speed serial port interface to communicate with a PC, to allow for readily programmed signals. In addition to the production of traditional signals, such as sinusoids and squarewaves, a mathematical tool known as splines is employed to aid in the development of customized arbitrary waveforms. Finally, a picture of our new device is presented in the paper.