Radar sets, oscilloscopes, and computer circuits all use sawtooth (voltage or current) waveforms. A sawtooth waveshape must have a linear rise. The sawtooth waveform is often used to produce a uniform,progressive movement of an electron beam across the face of an electrostatic cathode ray tube.
This movement of the electron beam is known as a SWEEP. The voltage which causes this movement is known as SWEEP VOLTAGE and the circuit which produces this voltage is the SWEEP GENERATOR,or TIME-BASE GENERATOR.
Most common types of time-base generators develop the sawtooth waveform by using some type of switching action with either the charge or discharge of an RC or RL circuit.
A sawtooth wave can be generated by using an RC network. Possibly the simplest sawtooth generator. Assume that at T0, S1 is placed in position P. At the instant the switch closes, the applied voltage (Ea) appears at R. C begins to charge to E a through R. If S1 remains closed long enough, C will fully charge to Ea. You should remember from NEETS, Module 2, Alternating Current and Transformers, that a capacitor takes 5 time constants (5TC)to fully charge.
As the capacitor charges to the applied voltage, the rate of charge follows an exponential curve. If a linear voltage is desired, the full charge time of the capacitor cannot be used because the exponential curve becomes nonlinear during the first time constant.