A frequency meter is an instrument that displays the frequency of a periodic electrical signal.
Various types of frequency meters are used. Many are instruments of the deflection type, ordinarily used for measuring low frequencies but capable of being used for frequencies as high as 900 Hz. These operate by balancing two opposing forces. Changes in the frequency to be measured cause a change in this balance that can be measured by the deflection of a pointer on a scale. Deflection-type meters are of two types, electrically resonant circuits and ratiometers.
An example of a simple electrically resonant circuit is a moving-coil meter. In one version, this device has two coils tuned to different frequencies and connected at right angles to one another in such a way that the whole element, with attached pointer, can move. Frequencies in the middle of the meter’s range cause the currents in the two coils to be approximately equal and the pointer to indicate the midpoint of a scale. Changes in frequency cause an imbalance in the currents in the two coils, causing them, and the pointer, to move.
Another type of frequency meter, Weston Frequency meter is not of the deflection type, is the resonant reed type, ordinarily used in ranges from 10 to 1,000 Hz, although special designs can operate at lower or higher frequencies.
The main principle of working of weston type frequency meter is that "when an current flows through the two coils which are perpendicular to each other, due to these currents some magnetic fields will produce and thus the magnetic needle will deflects towards the stronger magnetic field showing the measurement of frequency on the meter". Construction of weston frequency is as compared to ferrodynamic type of frequency meter. In order to construct a circuit diagram we need two coils, three inductors and two resistors.
Axis of both coils are marked as shown. Scale of the meter is calibrated such that at standard frequency the pointer will take position at 45o. Coil 1 contains a series resistor marked R1 and reactance coil marked as L1, while the coil 2 has a series reactance coil marked as L2 and parallel resistor marked as R2. The indcuctor which is marked as L0 is connected in series with the supply voltage in order to reduce the higher harmonic means here this inductor is working as a filter circuit. Let us look at the working of this meter.
Now when we apply voltage at standard frequency then the pointer will take normal position, if there increase the frequency of the applied voltage then we will see that the pointer will moves towards left marked as higher side as shown in the circuit diagram. Again we reduce the frequency the pointer will start moving towards the right side, if lower the frequency below the normal frequency then it cross the normal position to move towards left side marked lower side as shown in the figure.
Now let us look at the internal working of this meter. Voltage drop across an inductor is directly proportion to frequency of the source voltage, as we increase the frequency of the applied voltage the voltage drop across the inductor L1 increase that means the voltage impressed between the coil 1 is increased hence the current through the coil 1 increase while the current through the coil 2 decreases. Since the current through the coil 1 increases the magnetic field also increases and the magnetic needle attracts more towards the left side showing the increment in the frequency. Similar action will takes if decrease the frequency but in this the pointer will moves towards the left side.
These work by means of tuned steel reeds that vibrate like a tuning fork, under the effect of electric current through a coil; only those reeds that are in resonance vibrate visibly.