Monostable vs Bistable vs Astable Multivibrator

 Multivibrators are fundamental electronic circuits crucial in generating various types of waveforms and digital signals. Among the commonly used multivibrators are the monostable multivibrator, astable multivibrator, and bistable multivibrator types. Each serves distinct purposes in electronic circuitry, providing unique functionalities that contribute to the versatility of electronic systems.

What are Multivibrators?

Multivibrators, classified by their ability to generate multiple states or pulses, play an essential role in digital electronics. They are comprised of active elements such as transistors, operational amplifiers, or integrated circuits that produce rectangular or square wave outputs.

Monostable Multivibrator

The monostable multivibrator, also known as a one-shot multivibrator, is designed to produce a single pulse of a specified duration when triggered. Once triggered, it generates an output pulse and returns to its stable state. This functionality finds applications in timing circuits, pulse-width modulation, and signal conditioning.

Imagine pressing a button on a remote control – the signal transmitted is often generated by a monostable multivibrator, ensuring a specific pulse duration for the transmission.

Monostable multivibrator can be designed using transistors, operational amplifier or timer IC like the 555 Timer IC.

In the tutorial monostable multivibrator using transistor it was shown how one can build a monostable multivibrator with BJT transistors.

monostable multivibrator using transistors

Monostable multivibrator can also be designed using op-amp which was illustrated in monostable multivibrator using op-amp.

 monostable multivibrator using op-amp

Similarly, monostable multivibrator can be build using Timer IC like 555 Timer IC. See the tutorial monostable multivibrator 555 Timer. The circuit schematic is shown below.

circuit diagram of monostable multivibrator in proteus

For calculating the pulse width, component values see the online 555 timer monostable multivibrator calculator.

Bistable Multivibrator

The bistable multivibrator, also referred to as a flip-flop, has two stable states and maintains these states until it receives a trigger to change. It remains in one of the two stable output states until it receives a signal to switch to the other state. Bistable multivibrators are integral components in sequential logic circuits, memory storage elements, and digital systems where information retention is crucial.

Think of a light switch; it stays either in the ON or OFF state until someone toggles it to change its state. Bistable multivibrators operate similarly, retaining their state until a signal prompts a change.

Bistable multivibrator circuit can be designed using transitors, op-amp and timer IC. The following shows simple Bistable Multivibrator using Transistors circuit diagram.

fixed bias bistable multivibrator circuit diagram

 We can add capacitors across resistors R1 to make the BJT transistor turn ON to OFF and vice versa faster. There are two triggering method. 

 Similarly bistable multivibrator can be designed using operational amplifier. Below circuit diagram depicts bistable multivibrator with op-amp.

bistable multivibrator using op-amp

Another way to build bistable multivibrator circuit is to use 555 Timer. The following shows circuit diagram of bistable multivibrator using 555 Timer.

bistable multivibrator using 555 timer animation

Astable Multivibrator

Unlike the monostable, the astable multivibrator does not have a stable state. It continuously alternates between two quasi-stable states, generating a square wave without any external triggering. This oscillator configuration produces a continuous output signal without the need for external stimuli.

Astable multivibrators are extensively used in applications requiring clock signals, signal generators, and pulse modulation, such as in digital systems where clock pulses are fundamental for synchronizing operations.

From the circuit design perspective the astable multivibrator are designed using transistors and operational amplifiers and passive components mainly resistor and capacitor for timing. It can also be created using Timer IC such as 555 Timer IC.

Shown below is circuit diagram of Astable Multivibrator using Transistors.

 One LED flasher with Transistor

Astable multivibrator can be designed using operational amplifier such as one shown below. For circuit operation see op amp astable multivibrator

Astable Multivibrator using Op-Amp

For circuit implementation example see also Astable Multivibrator with Op-Amp 741

Astable multivibrator can be designed using Timer IC like 555 Timer IC. See the tutorial Astable Multivibrator with 555 Timer. The following shows the Astable Multivibrator with 555 Timer Circuit Diagram.

555 astable circuit simulation proteus

See Online Astable Multivibrator 555 Timer calculator for calculating the component values for given frequency.

Applications and Usage

  • Monostable: Timing circuits, pulse generators, and signal conditioning.
  • Astable: Clock generators, signal oscillators, and frequency dividers.
  • Bistable: Memory elements, flip-flops in digital systems, and sequential logic circuits.


Understanding the differences between monostable, astable, and bistable multivibrators is essential in designing and implementing electronic circuits. Their distinct functionalities cater to a wide range of applications, from pulse generation to signal modulation and memory storage.

The versatility offered by these multivibrators enables engineers and enthusiasts to create intricate electronic systems with precise timing, stable oscillations, and reliable information storage – contributing significantly to the realm of digital electronics. The multivibrator resembles circuit diagram of BJT differential amplifier just to mention.

As technology advances, these foundational building blocks continue to evolve, adapting to the demands of modern electronics and finding new applications in various domains.

In summary, the monostable, astable, and bistable multivibrators are indispensable tools in the vast landscape of electronic circuitry, each serving a specific purpose and collectively contributing to the complexity and functionality of modern-day electronics.

Understanding their characteristics and applications empowers engineers and hobbyists to innovate and create diverse electronic systems that power our interconnected world.

See also:

# Differences between astable and bistable multivibrator

# Differences between astable and monostable multivibrator


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