Posts Tagged ‘DIY Electronics Projects’

Great introduction to the Arduino

I’m a huge fan of the platform.  Don’t get me wrong, a lot of the projects I think are just too simple and can be done on a PIC for a lot less cash.  That being said, there are some REALLY neat Arduino projects out there and I’ll be Highlighting more ham related projects here in the future.

Just in case you’re really not sure, here’s a snip from the Wikipedia entry on Arduino:

Arduino is a popular open-source single-board microcontroller, descendant of the open-source Wiring platform, designed to make the process of using electronics in multidisciplinary projects more accessible. The hardware consists of a simple open hardware design for the Arduino board with an Atmel AVR processor and on-board input/output support. The software consists of a standard programming language compiler and the boot loader that runs on the board.

Arduino hardware is programmed using a Wiring-based language (syntax and libraries), similar to C++ with some slight simplifications and modifications, and a Processing-based integrated development environment.

The whole entry can be read here:

The Geek Group is a hacker/makerspace in Michigan that does a lot of really neat things (and they have one hell of a machine shop as well!).  In this video, they give a good basic introduction to what Arduino is, what sets it apart from a PIC and how you can get started programming and tinkering with Arduino.

If you know of any great ham radio related Arduino projects, post them in the comments and share!  I may add them in a future post.

Here’s “The Geek Group” video:

Power supplies – good info about them and one really neat project

We’ve all seen the neat projects on the web where someone uses a power supply taken from an old PC.    There is something simple about the project, yet so insanely useful and versatile.

I have not seen many that were as “polished” as the power supply project here.  This is from the blog “TG’s Electronics Exploration”.  The project is laid out in a way that will give you multiple power options as well as a digital readout.  Most of the power supply projects I’ve seen are relatively simple hacks where the basic simple values of a PC power supply are used (5 volts, 12 volts, etc).  This has many more options.

I really like how clean the layout is as well as the LCD’s.  The other really neat thing about his – the work isn’t wasted if the power supply eventually dies on you.  It is relatively easy to move all the electronics to a new supply.

The project page can be found at:

The next website we will talk about comes from a sit I visit on a regular basis.  Not ham radio, but plenty of electronics information and kits –  I used to run a hackerspace in my area.  We did a few projects to get people soldering.  One neat project was a “TV be-gone”.  Simple device where you build it, put it in a container (I, of course, used an Altoids tin) and use it to turn off TV’s.  Great when you’re somewhere where a TV is on, loud, and nobody is actually watching the thing and you can’t even carry a conversation with the guy next to you.  Simple enough project.

This site goes into several questions I get from potential hams when I teach radio classes, including:

What is a power supply?

Why use a power supply?

What’s inside a power supply?

AC/DC theory.

A really neat primer geared towards those that may not understand anything about all those wall warts that are drawing tons of power when not used!  I almost passed this up, as I know enough about power supplies to get me through what I need for my projects.  I found it a neat article that allowed me to probably explain it easier to those that aren’t technically inclined.

Check it out at:

Now, if you have any links to great projects or informative sites, please leave them below.

Simple AM transmitters

I had a lot of good response from some bread board based projects in the past.  so, here is a neat little AM transmitter I stumbled on Instructables.

It’s simple enough that you may already have most of the spare parts, yet detailed enough to allow you a little room for modification.  I like building transmitters like these and sending audio to my old broadcast radios or even amateur receivers like my old Hallicrafters gear.

Want to really freak people out?  Build one of these and hook it up to an MP3 player or portable CD Player (not like we have a massive use for these) and use it to stream old time radio.  Tons of resources online.  it just seems right to listen to classic radio on…… a classic radio.  I have an old American Bosh console with great woodwork, classic styling and such.  Hooked it up to my MP3 player and listened to the entire broadcast day of CBS on “D Day”.  Really kewl!  The Shadow hasn’t sounded this cool in quite some time.

Here is a link to the AM transmitter in the photo:

Here is a slightly different approach.  Lets say you have found a great condition cabinet at a tag sale, but the parts inside are truly destroyed.  I, don’t like modifying a restorable gem.  But…….  If you want, you could take an MP3 player, load it up with your favorite shows and have a great tabletop discussion piece.  You can get MP3 players REALLy cheap even at a drug store for ten bucks or so and load quite a bit of audio.

Here is the link for the MP3 player in a classic radio project:

Don’t think I left you guys out with some neat radios from the 70′s and such.  Especially those radios that came out around the time of the great Sci-fi flicks.  Ohhhh, I wish I had one of those vintage Welltrons!!!!!!!!

Below is a neat FM transmitter project.  I like this because it gives you a different dimension into the different modes and won’t cost a lot of money to truly learn a lot.  This title is called “How to build the simplest FM transmitter”:

572B Breadboard Linear Amplifier – oh, the insanity!

Today I bring you a video by “bob4analog” on YouTube. His version of a breadboard is slightly different from mine!!!!

Really detailed description of his project and a great tour of it in operation. I have a 572 based amp and found this quite interesting. Others, may just find the layout utter insanity! I really thank him for posting this video, it was interesting and I did indeed learn a few things while watching this video.

From his video description:

An experimental ‘Breadboard’ Linear Amplifier for 80m, using two 572B tubes.


The ingenious circuits of Sir Douglas Hall

As a confessed web junkie (how else can you do a site like this) and a ham…… I find many sites that show circuits from decades gone by that are every bit as relevant today as they were when they were originally created.

Then…… there comes a time when you can look at a mere snippet of someones overall body of work and get an interesting glimpse into one of those rare “beautiful minds”.  Such is the case with Sir Douglas Hall.

He started publishing articles nearly two decades after he started tinkering with electronics.  This site has copies of his published works from the early forties to…… here’s the crazy thing….. the new millennium!!!

I can’t even begin to go over the normal lists like I do for many articles here, but there are tons of articles from various methods of volume control, multiple crystal receivers, portable radio kits (transmitters and receivers), tons of theory….. the list goes on.

I think I need to cache a copy of this page for my next trip so I have plenty of neat stuff to read while traveling, truly neat stuff.

To find these ingenious circuits, go to:

**** Update ****

Thanx to Geoff for commenting and letting me know that there are not only updates, but MORE great circuits on the radioconstructors site at:

XTalset Society, neat articles for new homebrewers

XTalset society has been around for awhile.  They are a great starting point for anyone either new to homebrewing or anyone teaching someone who is new to radio (and I’m not necessarily talking about ham radio).  Great crystal set projects that truly amaze.

They are also a great resource for purchasing materials to help you on your crystal set journey.

Here are some of the articles I found useful – free for everyone!

How to Read Schematics
The AM Broadcast Band
A Big Ole Hunk of Galena Crystal
Crystal Set FAQs
How Crystal Sets Work
Variable Cap Lineup & Mounting
Equivalent Series and Parallel Circuits
XS-800 Antenna Measurement Bridge
Q of a Coil With Some Unused Turns
Mag-Coupling Selectivity-Sensitivity pdf file.
A Great Teacher: The Crystal Set pdf file, courtesy QEX (ARRL).
Derivation of Step Attenuator R Formulas pdf file.
The Trap Coil Q Measurement Method Revisited (for high Q coils in particular) pdf file.
About Q pdf file, Discusssion on Q Formulas/Measurement.
The AM RF Signal pdf file, Discusssion on makeup of an AM RF Signal.
Anatomy of Crystal Set Modeling: Equivalent Circuit Substitutions pdf file, with spice app.
XS-OB1 Kit Manual (updated 05-01-08) pdf file.
Different OAT BOX COILS pdf file.
XS-801 Kit Drawings pdf file.
Mechanical Dimensions for Mounting Variable Capacitors pdf file.

To take a look at these articles, head over to their site at:

Or their front page at:

Antique Wireless Association Journal – On-Line

I recently featured some material available from the Antique Wireless Association and had to go a little deeper.

They have a wealth of information available on their site with some of their journal’s online articles.  Great articles on vacuum tubes and such – but much, much more.

I found a great little article called “Working With Crystal Control: A ‘Part 15′ Broadcast Band Transmitter “, the transmitter setup on the left.  Really neat article (I think I must….want to build one of these)………  The image on the left is from that article – not to difficult to build and learn!!!

As I understand it, you can purchase a CD with back copies of this magazine.  I just might look into that.  Kinda sounds like the enjoyment I get when I receive that little journal from the G-QRP club – SPRAT.  When that hits my mailbox, I know it’s getting stuffed in my backpack for enjoyment down the road.

One important thing to keep in mind with the AWA Archives is how well they not only demonstrate radio history, but how you can recreate it and learn from it.  What a better way is there for a budding QRPer to learn where he’s going, but get a hands on demo from where other hams have been?

Below are only a few examples of the neat articles you’ll find on the AWA website:

Key and Telegraph  by John Casale, W2NI
President Taft’s Telegraph Key

Building a 1929 Style Hartley Transmitter  by Scott M. Freeberg, WA9WFA
Need a transmitter for our 1929 QSO Party? Build it in one week-end!

Breadboarding  by Richard A. Parks
More Adventures With Transistors

The Vacuum Tube  by Ludwell A. Sibley
Tube Bases and the Asbestos Hustle

Restoration of Shellac Finishes on Older Radios  by Lane Upton
Don’t Strip That Old Finish–Save it Instead!

A nostalgia trip for the old-timer; an eye-opener for the newbie.

The Beginnings of Radio Central  by Ralph Williams with Marshall Etter, Bob McGraw and Chris Bacon

Pupin and Armstrong lay an egg–An Antique Radio Gazette reprint.

A Solid-State Filter Choke or Field Coil Replacement

Go ahead and check them out at: –  a direct link to the journal archives

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