Creating Astable Multivibrator with Op-Amp 741

In the realm of electronic circuits, multivibrators stand as fundamental building blocks, serving various purposes from signal generation to time-based applications. Among these, the astable multivibrator holds a significant place, showcasing a continuous oscillating output without the need for external triggering. In this blog post, we'll explore the construction of an astable multivibrator using the popular operational amplifier, the 741, unveiling its design, working principle, and potential applications.

Astable Multivibrator Overview

An astable multivibrator is a type of oscillator that produces a continuous square wave output. Unlike monostable and bistable multivibrators, the astable configuration has no stable states, leading to a continuous switching between its two quasi-stable states.

Utilizing the Op-Amp 741

The operational amplifier 741, a widely used general-purpose op-amp, can be configured as an astable multivibrator with a few external components, namely resistors and capacitors.

Design and Circuit Configuration: The astable multivibrator using the Op-Amp 741 typically involves configuring the op-amp as a comparator(see 741 op amp comparator circuit). The 741 op-amp has an inverting input (-) and a non-inverting input (+), along with a power supply and output terminals. The following is pinout diagram of LM741 op-amp in DIP8 package form.

LM741 pinouts

 741 op-amp Astable Multivibrator Circuit Diagram

The following is astable multivibrator using op amp circuit diagram.

LM741 astable multivibrator
I have taken a 12V battery and used resistor capacitor network to get dual power supply for the LM741 IC. So the Vcc is +6V and Vee is -6V. Why this circuit oscillates is explained in details in the Astable Multivibrator using Operational Amplifier tutorial. In that tutorial LM358 operational amplifier was used.

The op-amp is connected as a comparator with two positive feedback resistors R1 and R2 which forms an inverting schmitt trigger. We have a capacitor C and negative feedback resistor RF connected as voltage divider on the inverting terminal. The resistor RF and capacitor C determine the frequency and duty cycle of the output square wave. When the circuit is powered up, the op-amp starts to oscillate, generating a continuous square wave output signal. The capacitor is charged and discharged periodically and therefore the output signal switches between high and low levels at a frequency determined by the time constants of the resistor RF and capacitor C.

The equation for frequency of oscillation for op-amp astable multivibrator is,

\( f_o = \frac{1}{2R_F C ln(\frac{-V_{sat}-V_{LT}}{+V_{sat}-V_{UT}})} \)  ---->(1)
\( V_{UT}=\frac{R_1 (+V_{sat})}{R_1+R_2} \)   ------->(2)
\( V_{LT}=\frac{-R_1 (-V_{sat})}{R_1+R_2} \)  ----------->(3)


\(V_{UT}\) and \(V_{UT}\) are upper and lower threshold voltages.

You can simply use the Astable Multivibrator Op-Amp Online Calculator to calculate the component values. The above Astable Multivibrator Formula has been used in that online calculator.

Circuit Components:

  1. 741 Op-Amp: Acts as the core component.
  2. Resistors (R1, R2): Used to set the charging and discharging rates of the capacitor.
  3. Capacitor (C): Determines the timing of the output waveform and influences the frequency of oscillation.

Working Principle: The 741 op-amps like uA741 or LM741 are like most of the operational amplifier build with BJT differential amplifier and current source and sinks. The astable multivibrator operates by constantly toggling between the two quasi-stable states, leading to a square wave output. The charging and discharging of the capacitor occur through the resistors, setting the time constants for each phase of the waveform.

During the charging phase, the capacitor charges through R1 until it reaches a voltage level that triggers the output to switch. This causes the capacitor to discharge through R2 until it reaches another threshold, triggering the output to switch back and initiate the next charging cycle. This continuous charging and discharging cycle result in the square wave output.

See the video demonstration of how to create and simulate 741 Op-Amp based astable multivibrator. 


 The astable multivibrator's continuous oscillations find applications in various fields, including:

  • Signal generation in function generators.
  • Clock generation in digital circuits.
  • Pulse generation in electronic systems.
  • Frequency modulation in communication circuits.


The astable multivibrator using the Op-Amp 741 demonstrates how a simple configuration of an operational amplifier with external passive components can generate continuous oscillations. Its versatility and ease of implementation make it a valuable tool in numerous electronic applications, showcasing the 741's capabilities beyond traditional amplification tasks. Understanding and utilizing the astable multivibrator configuration with the 741 op-amp opens doors to a wide array of practical circuit implementations, contributing to the functionality and innovation in electronic design.

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