How to Use A Frequency Counter?

If you’re a technician, then a frequency toner is one of the best equipment to work with. How to Use A Frequency Counter? It is super easy to use, and it provides the best readings.

Usually, the frequency of a signal refers to the rate at which a signal occurs over a definite period of time. Best Frequency counters evaluate and correctly quantify this signal frequency.

Although frequency counters are very convenient, many people fail to make the best use of it because of inadequate knowledge. So, if you’re someone who wants to know how to use a frequency counter, we’ve got you covered.

Our discussion will help you learn the most suitable way of using a frequency counter in your practical life.

What Is a Frequency Counter?

Frequency counters are basically test equipment that helps to evaluate a big cope of radio frequencies. They can provide accurate calculations of both the frequency and time of digital signals repeated within a fixed period.

You can also use these to quantify the frequency of the square wave and input pulses as well as the time taken. So, overall, it has great importance when it comes to taking readings.

This frequency counter displays the calculated frequency in digital form and makes it easy to read the readings. When signals take place in a certain period of time, this frequency counter counts them and displays the frequency range.

Thus, you can get your readings accurately with equipment like a frequency counter.

Types of Frequency Counter

Just like most instruments, frequency counters come in different types as well. You can use two main varieties of frequency counters to measure frequencies properly.

1. Direct Counting Frequency Counter

Direct Counting Frequency Counter

As the name suggests, this type of frequency counter works by counting the cycles from an input pulse in a second. The best part is that you can get by with this counter using a simple counter circuit.

Since it works with a simple counter-circuit, it is best suited for low-frequency resolution. So, if your requirements are minimal and basic, the direct counting frequency counter is what you need in life.

2. Reciprocal Frequency Counter

If you’re not content with the basic working model of direct frequency counters, the reciprocal one will suit your need.

Unlike the direct counter, this one deals with the measurement of input pulse time. So, the results are more accurate and helpful. Instead of calculating the cycles, this counter provides readings regarding the time for pulses.

An advantage of this counter over the direct one is that it is able to evaluate the low frequency at the highest resolution in a short span of time. This counter also bears the capacity to adjust the trigger level. So, a high amount of noise is diminished, which is not possible in the case of the direct one.

These are thus the two different types of frequency counters. Of course, if you want to go basic, the direct one works perfectly well. But in the case of advanced features, there is no doubt that the reciprocal frequency counter would work best.


A frequency counter comprises a few components that help in forming a well-defined structure for it. From input signal, and threshold, to a gate and display, you will find many tough components here.


Input in a frequency counter is the most important component. In a frequency counter, the input signal undergoes amplification through input thresholds. Another important aspect is the input impedance. In some applications, there is a requirement for matched impedances.

So, it is important to get an idea of whether your counter can establish a low impedance or a high one.


When you measure the frequency, time is something that is essential for counting the number of cycles. So, of course, a clock is an essential component of a frequency counter. The frequency counter can produce input pulses at precise time intervals, and the clock serves a vital role in this process.


The gate in a frequency counter deals with the transmission of input pulses. Over a definite time period, input signals are applied to the gate, and a number of pulses are later derived through the gate.

Besides, the gate time also determines the accuracy of the readings to a maximum extent. So, the gate is a vital part of a frequency counter.


Every instrument requires a well-structured display and the frequency counter is no exception as well. It also bears a good quality display to provide the frequency readings in a convenient format. Both LCD or LED displays are established in a frequency counter and can provide an accurate and readable result.

Overall, these are the important components of a frequency counter which play a role in its total operation. All these components are involved in one way or another to provide the readings of frequencies and time intervals in the best possible way.

Why You Need Frequency Counters

Since we’re talking so much about frequency counters, the question might arise regarding the necessity of these instruments. As important as it sounds, frequency counters actually make a huge difference when it comes to taking correct readings.

Here’s why you need frequency counters-

  • It measures the frequency of the pulses and signals correctly over a definite period of time and displays them in digital form.
  • Can also measure the time intervals of input pulses
  • Frequency counters save time and effort and provide accurate results in no time.
  • The expenses for these counters vary application-wise, but they are still always on the lower side.
  • Can measure the oscillator frequency easily
  • Helps to evaluate the frequency of the pulse derived from a square wave generator quickly
  • Ideal for RF Range
  • Can identify the frequency of the passage of high-power data

Due to its wide range of benefits, frequency counters are definitely essential.

How to Use a Frequency Counter

Now that you know in detail about frequency counters, it’s time to learn about their working principle. Frequency counters are very easy to calibrate. You only need minimum tools for your aid, and you’re all set.

What You’ll Need

To operate a frequency counter, you’ll need these additional items-

  1. Oscillator
  2. BNC Connector Cable

Exactly, with these two tools, you can use a frequency counter and enjoy the accurate readings for your signal.


It is necessary to select the time base interval when you’re using an instrument like this. The base time interval is the period of time during which counter gates open, and you can count the incoming pulses accurately. You can choose this interval from 0.1s, 1s, and even 10s depending on your convenience.

If you choose a longer gate time, the readings will be more precise and error-free. But longer gate times also result in a stagnant and automated experiment. It also results in a lot of additional time for the technician to waste.

So, even if they provide accuracy, it is more convenient to choose short gate times instead of long ones. But of course, if your requirement is a high level of correction and accuracy, you can definitely pick longer gate times.

Following some simple rules like this before using a frequency counter will not only give you a good direction to work in but will also turn out effective in the long run.

Steps to Use a Frequency Counter

Let’s walk you through how to actually use the device.

Step 1: Preparation

Before beginning to use the equipment, a fresh start will be great for the performance later.

So, give your frequency counter some of the power-on time so that it becomes stable and steady before the operation. This will get the instrument ready for its action.

Start 2: Connection

Start at first by connecting the frequency oscillator to the respective frequency counter with the help of the BNC connector cable.

This BNC cable will be better if it comes with female connectors at both ends. Choose the counter that meets your requirements -whether you want a direct one or a reciprocal one.

Start 3: Getting Started

Next, switch on the power buttons of both the oscillator and the frequency counter.

You will find different waveforms in the oscillator, starting from the pulse, triangle, and sine. All these waveforms are pure, flat, and monotonic. Choose the one from the oscillator that you find convenient.

Now, set the amplitude range of the oscillator as well as the frequency. It is recommendable to select the frequency for 1000 Hz. This frequency limit will be a perfect match for the frequency counter.

Move on to the frequency counter and arrange the frequency range as low as possible. Since you’ve already selected the gate duration beforehand, set it in the frequency counter.

By now, you’re good to go with all the parameters set up in both your oscillator and your frequency counter. Press the “Hold” button in your frequency counter and observe the exact count of signals that have been displayed on the digital frame.

Next, change the mode of the counter to “Period,” and notice the time interval. An interval of .001 seconds denotes that your counter is working.

Step 4: Altering The Oscillator Frequency

To complete the process, keep altering the oscillator frequency and notice if the frequency counter is showing the recent frequency briefly. Lastly, shift the “Gate” setting and observe for a high-resolution and low-frequency result on display.

In this way, you can keep changing your frequency and gate time to observe how your oscillator and frequency counter works. Each time, the accurate net result will pop up in a digital form and save your time and efforts.

Therefore, this instrument is very easy to use and can be handled smoothly. It not only maintains a high level of accuracy but also does a pretty good job at operating steadily.

So, if you’re looking for an instrument that will provide the best results for your readings, this is the one you should get.


Summing it up, it can be said that for any technician or engineer, a frequency counter is an essential everyday instrument. The impact of a frequency counter on providing the best possible measurements in a short time is truly remarkable.

So, it is important on everyone’s part to be acquainted with how to use a frequency counter. If you’re new to this and struggling with a counter, you can go through our article and learn everything regarding the use of a frequency counter.



Leave a Comment