Many scientific disciplines incorporate the concepts of waves, frequencies and periods. Physicists, engineers and astronomers study and work with wave energy. Examples of wave energy include light waves from a faraway galaxy, radio waves received by a cell phone and the acoustical waves from an orchestra. Regardless of the wave’s source, the relationship between the wave’s frequency and period are the same. A wave period is the time in seconds between two wave peaks and is inversely proportional to frequency.
Things You'll Need
- oscilloscope leads
Connect the microphone output to the oscilloscope leads.
Count the number of times the wave’s peak occurs in a given time period. Adjust the input controls on the oscilloscope to make the wave easy to see.
Divide the number of waves by the length of time in seconds.
For example, if you count 10 waves in 2 seconds, the frequency is 10 divided by 2, which equals 5 per second, or 5 Hertz.
Calculate the inverse of the frequency to obtain the wave’s period. For example, 1 divided by 5 Hertz is equal to a period of 0.2 seconds.
Tips & Warnings
- Depending upon the type of wave you are measuring, you may need a sensor other than a microphone.
- You can also count the number of oscilloscope display divisions between two adjacent peaks of the wave, which will directly give you the period.
- Photo Credit Stockbyte/Stockbyte/Getty Images
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