Windows PC as an Electronics Test Bench
Some very talented people have come up with software (sometimes requiring a little auxiliary hardware) that enables a Windows PC to do many of the tests that required hardware test instruments in the past. This is particularly true for testing in the audio frequency range as the PC sound-card/device is the basis for most of the applications. Listed below are links to some of these PC test instrument applications for Windows. Look around on these sites;as some of them list other software that may be of interest. Many thanks to the authors of these applications for all their work and for making them available free of charge.
To the best of my knowledge at the time of the last review all of the links are to freeware or free for non-commercial use sites. As I have only used a few of these I make no recommendations - the listing order does not indicate any preference. You are on your own in choosing those which best meet your needs and;work OK on your computer.
TO PREVENT SOUND CARD DAMAGE (BURNOUT) ITS INPUT VOLTAGES MUST BE SERIOUSLY LIMITED. See: Sound Card Protection or QST magazine - February 2016 - page 47
The PC Sound Card as a Signal Generator or Oscillator:
Frequency Signal Generator -
100Hz to 15 KHz sine waves only;
Digital Signal Generator - Sine wave, square wave, trigon wave, beat wave, swept sine and white noise
FreeSound Test Tones.mp3 - Login required to download;
Fluent Oscillator 1.0 - Multiple waveforms and duty cycles;
The Audio Test File Generator - Sine, sweep, pink and white noise
The NCH Tone Generator v1.03 - Later versions are not freeware
Simple Low Frequency Generator - Has a sweep capability
PC Based Oscilloscopes:
Cobracom - Oscilloscope, Realtime spectrum analyzer, Impedance meter, RLC bridge and signal generator
Two Scope download links on this page - No details shown
Christian Zeitnitz's PC based Sound card Oscilloscope and Function Generator
Spectrum Analyzers for the PC:
- Acoustic Spectrum Analyzer
RightMark Audio Analyzer - Tests the quality of analog and digital paths of;audio devices
EIS Spectrum Analyzer - A program for analysis & simulation of impedance spectra
Baudline - A time-frequency browser designed for scientific visualization of the spectral domain.
Spectrogram - An audio frequency spectrum analyzer - Be sure to get the freeware v. 5.17
DL4YHF's Spectrum Analyzer - with Waterfall Display & real-time audio processing;
Zelscope - A low-frequency oscilloscope and spectrum analyzer
SeaWave - Sound Emission Analyzer
PC Based Test Meters:
Meter - Requires minimal external hardware
Another RLC Meter - Requires some external hardware - Ideas and links only. THE BOARD IS UNAVAILABLE.
Visual Analyzer - It can't solder, but otherwise it should be a really great electronics helper
- Seven pages
of test gear downloads. Somewhat like this site.
Andrew Steer's Sound card Audio Tools and Toys - Audio Generator, Freq. Meter and Spectrum Analyzer
ADIGA - Software for radio spectrum measurements
David Taylor's Audio Oscillator and Sweep Generator - and the more advanced - Audio Test Set
Weak Signals - Spectran and TCube - Links to these applications are dead - 4/13/2023
On-line Tone Generator - Select: Sine, Square, Sawtooth or Triangle waveforms and White, Pink or Brown noise
WaveSurfer - An Open Source tool for sound visualization and manipulation
Autocord - The environmental audio monitor
Please contact me about other applications of this type and about any corrections to the information on this page.
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Revised, checked and page code updated on 04/16/2023