I am new to FPGA and I am trying to send a CLOCK signal as an output of a GPIO pin of an Altera Cyclone IV E. I first made a program:

module CLOCK_out (input CLOCK_50, output CLOCK_pin);
      assign CLOCK_pin = CLOCK_50;


It just sends out the default 50 MHz clock signal of the DE0-Nano Board to a GPIO pin. This is a success. However, when I viewed the signal with an oscilloscope, what I have is a 50MHz sine wave (see attached picture). I feel like I produced the wrong signal because I am expecting a square wave instead . I don't know where I am wrong. I am using 3.3V LVTTL standard for the IO. Is there something wrong with what I have done or is the output really a sine wave after all?

I need help. Thanks in Advance

enter image description here


1 Answer 1


What's the bandwidth on your scope? If it's not significantly greater than 50 MHz (say, 500 MHz or more), the scope's bandwidth limit will turn your square wave into a sine wave. This is because a square wave consists of a series of odd frequency harmonics...in this case 50 Mhz, 150 Mhz, 250 MHz, etc. So if you have, say, a 100 MHz scope, you will miss all of the frequency components except the fundamental at 50 MHz, and you'll get a very nice sine wave even though you actually have a square wave with very sharp edges and lots of high frequency harmonics. If you use a 500 MHz scope, then you'll get 50, 150, 250, 350, and 450 MHz which will result in a nice square wave. And using mile long jumper wires like that will certainly not help with signal integrity.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Hi Alex, So I just have to increase the bandwidth of the oscilloscope to a value much greater than 50 MHz then that will solve my problem and produce the square wave I am expecting? \$\endgroup\$
    – Adaptive
    Oct 24, 2016 at 3:57
  • \$\begingroup\$ Yes, it's just that getting a scope with more bandwidth could be a bit expensive. Looks like it's working correctly, the sine wave is just an artifact of the limited scope bandwidth. \$\endgroup\$ Oct 24, 2016 at 3:59
  • \$\begingroup\$ Thanks Sir. I will try to explore the oscilloscope if its bandwidth may be adjusted. Thanks for your help :) \$\endgroup\$
    – Adaptive
    Oct 24, 2016 at 4:27
  • \$\begingroup\$ You will most likely have to buy, borrow, or otherwise procure a higher-end scope. \$\endgroup\$ Oct 24, 2016 at 4:28

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