In most cases, the frequency of an oscillator is determined by the time constant RC. However, in cases or applications such as FM, tone generators, and frequency-shift keying (FSK), the frequency is to be controlled by means of an input voltage, called the control voltage. This can be achieved in a voltage-controlled oscillator (VCO). A VCO is a circuit that provides an oscillating output signal (typically of square-wave or triangular waveform) whose frequency can be adjusted over a range by a dc voltage.
Voltage Controlled Oscillator Block Diagram :
An example of a VCO is the 566 IC unit, that provides simultaneously the square-wave and triangular-wave outputs as a function of input voltage. The frequency of oscillation is set by an external resistor R1 and a capacitor C1 and the voltage Vc applied to the control terminals. Figure shows that the 566 IC unit contains current sources to charge and discharge an external capacitor Cv at a rate set by an external resistor R1 and the modulating dc input voltage.
A Schmitt trigger circuit is employed to switch the current sources between charging and discharging the capacitor, and the triangular voltage produced across the capacitor and square-wave from the Schmitt trigger are provided as outputs through buffer amplifiers. Both the output waveforms are buffered so that the output impedance of each is 50 f2. The typical magnitude of the triangular wave and the square wave are 2.4 Vpeak.to-peak and 5.4Vpeak.to.peak.
The frequency of the output waveforms is approximated by : fout = 2(V+ - Vc)/R1C1V+
Voltage Controlled Oscillator Circuit Diagram :
Figure shows the pin connection of the 566 unit. The VCO can be programmed over a 10-to-l frequency range by proper selection of an external resistor and capacitor, and then modulated over a 10-to-l frequency range by a control voltage, Vc The voltage controlled oscillators (VCOs) are commonly used in converting low-frequency signals such as EEG (electro-encephalograms) or ECG (electro-cardiograms) into an audiofrequency (AF range).