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This paper proposes a novel nonlinear modulating function approach for generating n-scroll chaotic attractors based on a general jerk circuit. The systematic nonlinear modulating function methodology developed here can arbitrarily design the swings, widths, slopes, breakpoints, equilibrium points, shapes, and even the general phase portraits of the n-scroll chaotic attractors by using the adjustable sawtooth wave, triangular wave, and transconductor wave functions. The dynamic mechanism and chaos generation condition of the general jerk circuit are further investigated by analyzing the system stability. A simple block circuit diagram, including integrator, sawtooth wave and triangular wave generators, buffer, switch linkages, and voltage-current conversion resistors, is designed for the hardware implementations of various 3-12-scroll chaotic attractors via switchings of the switch linkages. This is the first time to experimentally verify a 12-scroll chaotic attractor generated by an analog circuit. In particular, the recursive formulas of system parameters and real physical circuit parameters are rigorously derived for the hardware implementations of the n-scroll chaotic attractors. Moreover, the adjustability of the nonlinear modulating function and the rigorous recursive formulas together provide a theoretical principle for the hardware implementations of various chaotic attractors with a large number of scrolls.