How to Measure Frequency without a Multimeter

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Are you one of those people pursuing a job in electronics? Then you may have often come across the term frequency. In today’s post, we will talk about frequency and the different ways to measure it without using a multimeter.

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Every day in your life, you will find frequencies of sound and electromagnetic waves continuously changing and making the futures of the audible and visible world familiar to everybody. A few aspects of frequency could only be perceived indirectly, yet more people are conscious of them without even considering them. 

For example, a favorite radio station might have a frequency of 99.7 MHz, and fans of that station understand that the signal of the station will be there every time they turn the FM dial to that particular position. 

Indeed, humans cannot “hear” TV and radio frequencies—part of the electromagnetic spectrum. However, the proof for them is everywhere. Likewise, people are not aware, in any direct sense, of frequencies in light and sound. Still, without differences in frequency, there could be no music or speech, nor would there be any differences of color. 

What is Frequency? 

Frequency refers to the rate at which something happens or is repeated over a specific period. The rate of frequency is often calculated in cycles per second or the interchangeable hertz. Keep in mind that sixty cycles per second are equal to sixty hertz. Further, a thousand hertz is often called kilohertz. 

It can be measured in time where the duration of a particular cycle is equal to its frequency: where a thousandth of a second is specified as a millisecond. Take note that one millisecond is equivalent to kilohertz. 

To make it short, frequency determines the number of waves passing a fixed place in a specific amount of time. Hence, the time it takes for a wave to pass would be half a second. The frequency is two per second or two hertz. 

If 240 waves pass within an hour, the frequency is four hertz. The quicker the cycle repeats, the greater the frequency. 

When it comes to an electronic circuit, you will find different processes that should take place at a specific rate and interval for the circuit to function appropriately. Some of the processes are timed for maximum performance, such as data, video, or voice. Some are timed, so they take place at particular intervals such as memory, data storage, and retrieval or a user interface such as a mouse or a keyboard.

The rates of frequency are what coordinate all the processes within a circuit to happen at a particular rate and interval for optimal performance. 

How can a frequency be measured? 

Below are the different ways that frequency can be measured. 

  1. Heterodyne Methods

This method is one of the key methods in measuring high precision frequency. The counter is utilized to measure the square wave of the beat signal. Heterodyne methods are not practical to the real-time display of measurement results and to the multi-channel measurement. 

  1. Frequency Counter

You will also find a frequency counter. These counters are test tools utilized in a wide array of uses associated with radiofrequency engineering to measure the signal’s frequency very accurately. 

Such frequency counters and counter times are widely utilized in a selection of electronic area tests to test the frequency of repetitive signals. It’s often used for measuring the time between edges on digital signals. 

Actual applications and requirements for RF frequency counters and timers are pretty much different. However, they utilize the same basic circuitry, along with basic internal reconfiguration. Hence, RF frequency counters often function as timers. Normally, the high-frequency counters won’t integrate the timer capability.

Keep in mind that such test instruments are widely accessible and could often be purchased for competitive prices. Just remember, though, that the cost is not everything. A low-cost product of test instruments might offer inferior and poor performance. 

These counters are mainly utilized in various applications where the radio frequency’s frequencies or audio frequencies signals are to be measured. A few applications might involve:

  • Any application where the frequency of a stable repetitive signal should be measured
  • Measure the frequency of a signal on the line
  • Measuring the frequency of an oscillator within a unit
  • Measuring the frequency of a transmitter carrier 

You will find some prerequisites to measure the frequency of an RF signal with this method, such as the frequency should be steady; the signal shouldn’t have modulation applied as that will stop correct counting; signal should have enough amplitude, and signals must not be to massive that the overload the output. 

  1. Stroboscope

Another way to measure frequency without using a multimeter is through a Stroboscope. This is a tool utilized to measure the frequency, velocity, and revolutions of rotating parts or moving components. It’s typically referred to as strobe as it can measure rotary or periodic motions.

This device can make a moving object appear to be stationary or slow-moving. That is performed through the Stroboscopic effect—the principle utilized for the study of vibrating, oscillating, reciprocating, and rotating objects. 

A good example of this phenomenon would be a discharge light positioned near rotating machinery. Hence, the rotating parts would look slow-moving. It would only take place in areas where discharge lamps are utilized. Such lamps will illuminate and extinguish twice each cycle. 

Stroboscopic effects could be experienced by the flashing lights in disco clubs. 

  1. Counting

Computing and measuring the frequency of a repeating event is done by counting the number of times that even happens within a particular time. You can then divide the count by the length of the period.

For instance, if seventy-one events happen within fifteen seconds, how much is the frequency? 

Final Thoughts

The ideal method for measuring frequency without using a digital multimeter will vary on the type of frequency you like to measure. Period measurement is often the easiest way, and it only needs one counter. Nonetheless, the measurement error increases as frequencies rise. 

We hope you find this guide enlightening and useful. Send your thoughts to us by leaving your comments below.

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