How Astable Multivibrator using Logic Gates work | Example Circuits

Have you ever heard about a multivibrator circuit? Perhaps, you may already used it in the transistor circuit form and 555 chip circuit. Furthermore, we will learn how a Stable multivibrator circuit works when using the digital logic gates.

How Astable Multivibrator using Logic Gates work | Example Circuits

What is an Astable Multivibrator?

It is a type of oscillator that generates pulse or square signals. It is a simple circuit, which consists of IC, resistors, and capacitors.

How many types of multivibrators are there? There are 2 major types:

  • Astable Multivibrator — generated the continuous pulse signals
  • Monostable Multivibrator — generated the single pulse signals when receiving external triggers

Biatable Multivibrator

Somebody may say that the RS-Flip Flop is one type of multivibrator too. They call it a bistable multivibrator. It has two stable statuses. If triggered, the status will change. But nowadays we often call these circuits the Flip Flop.

The first type is very popular. Used in the pulse generators, the clock signals. Which use to control the system to run in rhythm, sequence of work, the timing of circuits, etc.

Because the name was too long. We often call it in short Clock.

On the right side is the clock generator to the 4017 counter.

What else? Learn how it works.

Block diagram Clock counter circuit

How does Astable Multivibrator work

Look at the simple pulse generator circuit using CMOS Gates.

simple pulse generator circuit using CMOS Gates

This is a basic circuit of a multivibrator that uses the characteristics of the inverter and the charging/discharging of the capacitor C in the circuit.

Although the circuit looks easy. But it is very challenging to explain it to be easy to understand.

I named the points A, B, C, and D in the circuit, you will see points A and D are connected. But I put them separately for convenience to explain.

The feature of the inverter or Not gate is that the input and output will have the opposite signal all the time.

Here is a step-by-step process.

First, suppose at point C the signal is “1”. Therefore, at B must be “0”.

When C is High B is LOW

The capacitor charges a high voltage from point C to B. It certainly has the current flowing from C through the capacitor and resistor to point B.

The current charge via C and R to B

Now, the high voltage is across both ends of the resistor.

It causes points A or D will have high voltage for just a brief moment.

High voltage for just brief

The charging of this capacitor will take less time. It depends on its capacitance and the resistance of R. If the value is large, then it will last longer. But if the value is small, it will last a shorter time.

But when the capacitor is fully charged, the current will stop flowing causing no voltage across the resistor. Therefore, the voltage at point D is equal to “0”.

a full charge at all points, change status

This was where the change occurred. At the moment, point A is “0”, therefore point B is “1”, and point C is changed to “0”. Every point has the opposite status as its past state.

When point B is “1” and point C is “0”, the current will charge the capacitor again.

The current flows backwards

But this time the current will flow from point B through the resistor and capacitor to point C.

Therefore, it has the direction of flow of the currents as opposed to the first charging.

When the current flows in the reverse direction. The voltage across the resistor will have the opposite direction. It causes the voltage at point D to be lower than point B, which point D is “0”.

The voltage gradually increases

This status will be temporary. Until the capacitor is fully charged. And the current stops flowing.

The voltage at point D gradually increases.

The voltage at point D is as high as point B. As a result, point A is changed to “1”, therefore point B has to be “0” and point C is “1”. Back to the original status as we started to explain before.

Back to the original condition

Charging the capacitor and changing of voltage at various parts will continue this way.

See Also:

Not only that. if you want to use this circuit. We can design it simpler.

  • The resulting waveform will vary with the configuration of R and C in the circuit.
  • Try changing the resistor (R) between 10K to 1M and Capacitor (C) between 0.001uF to 0.1uF.
  • The frequency of the generated pulse (F) is approximately
    F = 1 ÷ 1.4 RC.

You have read this far, have you understood anything? Although, my English is quite bad. But you probably see my efforts, right?

See the example circuits below. They may be useful to you.

Basic clock Circuits

From the above principles, are you bored with it? Let’s see 7 examples of simple circuits

1# Basic 1KHz clock generator circuit using CD4049 NOT Gates

We try to design the circuit to produce a 1KHz frequency. By using the formula above.

Basic 1KHz clock generator circuit using CD4049 NOT Gates

IC1 is CD4049, also you can use other CMOS NOT gates such as CD4049, CD4069, etc. Be careful with a different pinout.

Read: 4049 datasheet and circuits

Read other: astable multivibrator using logic gates

2# 1KHz Oscillator circuit using CD4011 NAND Gates

We know that we can use NOR and NAND Gates are wired as the inverters gates.

1KHz Oscillator circuit using CD4011 NAND Gates

Therefore, we can use a not gate chip for the oscillator too.

3# 1KHz Square wave generator circuit using CD4001-NOR Gate

1KHz Square wave generator circuit using NOR Gate CD4001

Likewise, we brought the CD4001-NOR gates CMOS chip to generate the 1KHz frequency like the NOT gates.

4# 1KHz Oscillator using Schmitt trigger

We also use a Schmitt trigger to produce a square wave at 1kHz with the components shown on the right side.

1KHz oscillator using Schmitt trigger

When the Schmitt output is “1”, the capacitor charges via the 330K resistor.

Then, the voltage on the input will rise to the upper trip point of the Schmitt trigger, and the output drops to “0”.

IC1: CD4584 or 74C14 Hex Schmitt Trigger

Next, the capacitor discharges through the resistor to the lower trip point to change the Schmitt output to “1”.

The cycle repeats at approx 1kHz. This circuit is very economical on components.

Imagine you need a high-frequency approx 3MHz. And, you do not have resistors. You may use the below circuit.

5# Simplest High-frequency Oscillator circuit using NOT Gate

Let’s experiment uses NOT Gate as an oscillator circuit. We will try to take an inverter gate or NOT gate to test the fun circuit.

We use the CMOS chip CD4069B inverter gate form.

Or also use NAND gate: CD4011, MC14011B.

Then, take the input joint together into the same inverter form.

using NAND as Inverter gates

Connect the circuit as the figure below. We just to joint pins with many wires onto the breadboard in the correct position only.

Only not Gate oscillator simplest circuit
Experiment with square wave oscillator circuit using inverter pattern

See In the circuit, we connect the inverter ICa to ICd continuously series. The output of IC1c will feedback to the input of IC1a. Thus, the signal will run from ICa to IC1c and backward to IC1a in cycle form.

Then, use an oscilloscope to measure the waveform signal at the output of IC1d. We will see the square waveform signal is high frequency about 3.3 MHz.

Testing without oscilloscope

But if no the oscilloscope, you may test this circuit by applying it near the antenna of the television. We will see that on-screen will have many dots like rain. It indicates the circuit is working with high frequency.

How it works

Why is easy? We use two main principles below.

  • The input and output of the inverter will always opposite.
  • We enter the signal as the input of each gate. It has a little delay time before appearing at that output.

Here is a step-by-step process.

Look at the circuit diagram again.

Process of inverter gate as the oscillator
  • Suppose that the input of IC1a is “0”, output at pin 3 will is “1”.
  • This signal “1” will come to the input of IC1b and provide the output is “0”.
  • Then, it changes to “1” at pin 10 of IC1c. After that this signal is sent to feedback to input IC1a again.

Therefore, the input of IC1a will change from “0” into “1” automatically. And it will return back through IC1a to IC1C again. At the same time, this signal “1” will flow through to the input of IC1d to output into “0”, the signal will is “0” and “1” alternately all the time.

Key Tips

Connecting the inverter circuit as the oscillators. We must use the gate as an odd number such as 1, 3, 5…. etc. If even numbers will not cause oscillations.

Also, the frequency of the oscillator depends on the delay time of each gate and the amount of the gate, too.

  • CMOS—they will have a delay time of approximately 0.1 uS.
    For example, if we use the 3 gates connected as the delay time of 0.3 microseconds. Therefore, the output frequency of 3.3 MHz.
  • TTL— this type will have a delay time of about 20 nanoseconds. Which is faster than CMOS by 5 times.
    For example, if we use the 74LS00 NAND gate. It can get a frequency waveform of approximately 15 MHz.

Reducing Frequency using the capacitor

If you do not want too high-frequency output. How to reduce it.

Suppose that, in the gate circuit, there is something that makes the long delay time up. It will make the frequencies certainly lower.

We connected a little capacitor across the inverter as figure above.

When we insert the capacitor connects between the input and output of IC1b. It will cause the delay time at the IC1b to be longer up. After that, try to measure the waveform. we will see that they have lower frequencies.

We may change the larger capacitances. To find out the result reducing frequency down as table in right side.


Now, probably understand the basics of the Astable Multivibrator circuit using the Digital Logic Gates.

In fact, there is still much more to this section, but I’m afraid that this article will be too long. You may feel bored. What would you most like to learn in the digital world? Why?

Check out these related articles, too:

Download This

All full-size images and PDFs of this post are in this Ebook below. Please support me. 🙂

ElecCircuit Books 3

Get Ebook: Simple Electronics Vol-03

12 thoughts on “How Astable Multivibrator using Logic Gates work | Example Circuits”


      • Hello,
        As for my English writing, it is undeniably bad—some parts were even considered unreadable. But in the last few months or so, we have been trying our best to improve our writing in our new posts or even rewrite some of our old posts on the website.

        But perhaps if you were to be so kind as to give us a piece of advice or two or even point out some of the things that we might have done wrong, that would help us tremendously improve our understanding of English writing even further.


  1. Keep the good work rolling.
    But I want to ask as electronic hubbist but who could not get chance or know how to start carry out electronic projects posted on this platform or see somewhere,where to start from?

    • I very much appreciate your question. It might be a great idea. I and my kids will compile how-to and ideas to create simple electronic projects for hobbyists and beginners. Please be patient.

    • Oh! it is a great idea. I will teach my daughter to learn about AM radios. But now she loves LED flasher and LED running circuit. Never mind, electronics has a lot of information to do (fun).


Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.