13 Important Frequency Counter Glossary Terms

Frequency Counter

An electronic counter used to measure frequency by counting the number of cycles in an electric signal during a preselected time interval.

Burst Frequency

The number of bursts per second. A burst is a series of pulses at a predetermined pulse frequency.

Duty Factor

In electronics:
The ratio between the pulse duration and the pulse period of a periodic pulse train. A duty factor of 1.0 corresponds to continuous operations. The measure of output waveform uniformity. This term, also referred to as symmetry, is a measurement of the time that the output waveform is in a logic high state, expressed as a percentage (%).

In engineering: A figure that expresses the amount of actual working time as compared to the total operating time of an intermittently working piece of equipment. May also refer to the period for which an electrical device may be operated without deleterious effects, for example, from overheating.

Frequency Range

The frequency range for a given piece of equipment specifies the range or spectrum of frequencies at which the equipment is operable.

Frequency Resolution

The ability of a receiver to uniquely identify input signals transmitted on different frequencies and display them separately.


In any repeating phenomenon, the time it takes for one repetition is known as the period. Usually expressed in milliseconds (msec).
In test instrumentation, a period can be considered as the time required for a single oscillation of a sine wave.

Pulse Width

The duration in time (usually milliseconds) of the transmitted pulse. May also be called pulse duration or pulse length.

Ratio Measurement

A measurement scale where the interval between successive points can be measured using a defined numerical scale and where the zero point means an absence of the characteristic being measured. The distinguishing feature of a ratio scale is the possession of a non-arbitrary zero value.

Rise/Fall Time

Rise Time is the transition time from an output low to an output high. Fall Time is the transition time from an output high to an output low. This transition time is measured at specified voltage thresholds or at specified percentages of the output waveform amplitude.

Time Interval

Measures the elapsed time between a start signal and a stop signal.

Time Interval Average

Average of all time intervals measured, the total time elapsed between the start and end of a specified number of individual signal pulses divided by the number of signal pulses.


Counting the total number of pulses generated by a particular type of event over the duration of an experiment.

Universal Counter

A frequency counter which, in addition to measuring frequency, also measures other parameters such as frequency, period, phase, and time intervals such as pulse width or rise time.