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Radio and Electronics Cookbook

Radio and Electronics Cookbook


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Radio and Electronics Cookbook


5/5 (4 ratings)
702 pages
Nov 28, 2000


Radio and Electronics Cookbook is a unique collection of electronics projects, ideal for all electronics enthusiasts and experimenters. The simple step-by-step instructions also make this book ideal for amateurs seeking to build up their electronics skills and knowledge.

The projects draw on the massive enthusiasm and design know-how of the RSGB, the UK's leading federation of radio amateurs. Only a basic acquaintance with electronics construction is assumed, with clear step-by-step instructions and numerous illustrations supplied throughout. The projects are also supported with features on the electronics involved.

The circuits themselves provide a wealth of quick, rewarding construction projects ranging from radio receivers and amplifiers to test equipment, a moisture meter, a desk microphone, a water level alarm, and Christmas tree LEDs.

  • A wealth of DIY and hobby projects
  • Written by experts who really understand home electronics construction
  • Includes factsheets to help you learn electronics basics as you work through the book
Nov 28, 2000

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Radio and Electronics Cookbook - RSGB



A medium-wave receiver


Let us start off with something that is really quite simple and yet is capable of producing a sense of real satisfaction when complete – a real medium-wave (MW) radio receiver! It proves that receivers can be simple and, at the same time, be useful and enjoyable to make. To minimise the confusion to absolute beginners, no circuit diagram is given, only the constructional details. The circuits will come later, when you have become accustomed to the building process. In the true amateur spirit of ingenuity and inventiveness, the circuit is built on a terminal strip, the coil is wound on a toilet roll tube (as amateur MW coils have been for 100 years!), and the receiver is mounted on a piece of wood.

Putting it together

Start by mounting the components on the terminal strip as shown in Figure 1, carefully checking the position and value of each one. The three capacitors are all the same, and so present no problem. They (and the resistors) may be connected either way round, unlike the two semiconductors (see later). The resistors are coded by means of coloured bands. You can refer to Chapter 7 if you have difficulty remembering the colours and their values.

Figure 1 Terminal strip – position of components

The integrated circuit (the ZN414Z) and the transistor (the BC184) must be connected correctly. Check Figure 1 carefully before fitting each device.

Now wind the coil. Most tubes are about 42 mm diameter and 110 mm long. Don’t worry if your tube is slightly different; it shouldn’t matter. Make two holes, about 3 mm apart, about 40 mm from one end, as shown in Figure 2. Loop your enamelled wire into one hole and out of the other, and draw about 100 mm through; loop this 100 mm through again, thus anchoring the wire firmly. Now wind on 80 turns, keeping the wire tight and the turns close together but not overlapping. After your 80th turn, make another two holes and anchor the wire in the same way as before. Again, leave about 100 mm free after anchoring. Using another piece of enamelled wire (with 100 mm ends as before), loop one end through the same two holes which contain the end anchor of the last winding, wind two turns and anchor the end of this short winding using another pair of holes. Figure 2 shows the layout.

Figure 2 The layout of the parts on the wooden base

With some glass paper, remove the enamel from the ends of both pieces of wire which go through the same holes (i.e. the bottom of the large coil and the top of the small coil), then twist these bare ends together. Remove the enamel from the remaining ends of the coil. The coil is now finished!

The baseboard can be any piece of wood about 150 mm square. Fix the coil near the back edge using drawing pins and connect the wires from the coils to the terminal strip as shown in Figure 2. Using short pieces of PVC-insulated wire (and with assistance if you have never soldered before), solder one piece across the two outer tags of the variable capacitor, shown by the dotted line in Figure 2, and then two longer pieces to the centre tag and one outside tag. Connect these to the terminal strip. Then solder two more insulated wires on to the jack socket (into which you will plug your crystal earpiece), the other ends going to the terminal strip. The last two wires (one must be red) need to be soldered on to the battery box, their other ends going to the terminal strip also. Make sure the red wire goes to the positive terminal on the battery, and is connected to terminal 9. The other connection to the battery goes to terminal 10.

Attach the terminal strip to the baseboard with small screws or double-sided sticky tape. The other parts can be mounted the same way.

Listening is done ideally with the recommended crystal earpiece. Don’t be tempted to use your Walkman earpieces; they are not the same and will not perform anything like as well. The receiver should work without an extra aerial, but one can be attached to terminal 1 if necessary. A long piece of wire mounted as high as possible is ideal. The Audio-frequency Amplifier project will enable you to use a loudspeaker with your receiver, using the signal from the jack socket. No circuit modifications will be needed!

Parts list


ZN414Z, BC184

Additional items

12-way 2 A terminal strip

22 metres of 28 SWG enamelled copper wire

A few short pieces of coloured PVC-insulated wire

Crystal earpiece

3.5 mm jack socket

1.5 V AA-size battery and box

Toilet roll tube

Double-sided sticky tape or selection of screws

Tools required

Small screwdriver, soldering iron.


An audio-frequency amplifier


This simple amplifier can be built by anyone who is able to solder reasonably well. It doesn’t require any setting up and, provided our instructions are followed exactly, will work very well. The circuit diagram is included for the benefit of our more advanced readers, but it is not needed in the construction process. Please practise your soldering before you start, and don’t use a printed circuit board (PCB) until you are confident that your soldering is up to scratch.

The amplifier can be used with other projects; it will provide plenty of sound from the MW Radio or from the Morse Sounder projects. It will usually be built into other pieces of equipment, so a box is not supplied with the kit. There is no reason why it shouldn’t be put into a box and used as a general-purpose amplifier to help test other projects.

The components

Before you start, you should check that you have all the components to hand. A list and some helpful hints are given below.

1. PCB. The plain side is the component side and the soldered side is the track side. Figure 1 shows the track side full size. Make the PCB from the pattern given in Figure 1. Otherwise, build the circuit on a matrix board.

Figure 1 The toil pattern of the PCB – looking from the track side

2. Three resistors. Locate the gold or silver band around the resistor, and turn the resistor until this band is to the right. There are three coloured bands at the left-hand end of the resistor. Find the resistor whose colours are YELLOW, VIOLET, RED, and look at the resistor colour code chart which you will find in Chapter 7. From this, you will see that YELLOW indicates the value 4, VIOLET the value 7, and RED the value 2. The first two colours represent real numbers, and the last value is the number of zeros (noughts) which go after the two numbers. So, the value is 47 with two zeros, i.e. 4700 ohms. In this way, the resistor coloured BROWN, GREY, BROWN has a value of 180 ohms, and the last one, BROWN, RED, GREEN, has a value of 1 200 000 ohms. The ohm (often written as the Greek letter omega (Ω)) is the unit of resistance. If you do not yet feel confident in identifying resistors by their colours, use the Resistor Colour Codes given in Chapter 7.

3. Four capacitors. The two small ‘beads’ are tantalum capacitors and will be marked 4.7 μF or 4μ7, with a ‘+’ above one lead. A tubular capacitor with wires coming from each end should be marked 220 μF, with one end marked ‘+’ or ‘−’, This is called an axial capacitor because the wires lie on the axis of the cylinder. This is in contrast to the final capacitor, where both wires emerge from the same end. This is a radial capacitor, and will be marked 47 μF Again, one lead will be marked ‘+’ or ‘−’. Capacitors marked like this are said to be polarised, and it is vital that these are placed on the PCB the right way round, so take notice of those signs!

4. Two diodes. These are tiny glass cylinders with a band around one end, and may be marked 1N4148; this is their type number. Like polarised capacitors, they must be put on the PCB the correct way round!

5. Three transistors. One should be a BC548 (or a BC182), the other two should be BC558 (orBC212).

6. One volume control with internal switch.

7. One loudspeaker. This is quite fragile – don’t let anything press against the cone.

8. One PP3 battery clip with red and black leads.

Putting it together

Lay the PCB on a flat, clean surface with the track side downwards. It is always useful to compare the layout with the circuit diagram, given here in Figure 3. Although you can’t see it, the D-i-Y Radio sign should be at the top. Compare the hole positions with those shown in Figure 2. Bend the resistor wires at right angles to their bodies so that they fit cleanly into the holes in the PCB. Push each resistor towards the board so that it lies flat on the board. Then supporting each one, turn the board over and splay out the wires just enough to prevent the resistor falling out. Then, solder each wire to its pad on the PCB, and cut off the excess wire. When you have more confidence, you can cut of the excess wire before soldering; it often makes a tidier joint.

Figure 2 Positions of the components on the printed circuit board (PCB)

Figure 3 The amplifier’s circuit diagram

Now fit the four capacitors. Each must be connected the right way round, so look at each component, match it up with the diagram of Figure 2, bend its wires carefully and repeat the soldering process you performed with the resistors, making sure that the components are close to the board and not up on stilts! Fit the two diodes the correct way round, and solder then as quickly as you can – they don’t like to be fried!

Mount the transistors about 5 mm above the PCB. Make sure the correct transistors are in the correct places, and that the flats on the bodies match up with those shown in Figure 2.

Mount the volume control so that the spindle comes out from the front of the board. Use a piece of red insulated wire to the pad marked + on the PCB, and a black piece to the pad marked –, and solder these to the tags on the back of the control, as shown in Figure 4. Connect the two leads from the battery clip to the other tags on the switch; Figure 4 will help you. Finally, use two pieces of insulated wire about 100 mm long, twisted together, to connect the loudspeaker to the PCB.

Figure 4 Connections to switch on back of VR1

Box clever!

If you wish to put the amplifier into a box, there is no problem; almost any box that is big enough will do. All that is needed is one hole big enough to accept the bush of the volume control; the PCB will be supported by the volume control. The prototype was not fitted into a box, but mounted on an odd piece of aluminium, bent into an L-shape and screwed on to a wooden base. The loudspeaker was mounted on the aluminium panel by two small pieces of aluminium with 3 mm holes drilled in them, which acted as clips around the edge of the speaker. Drill a few holes in the panel in the position of the speaker to let the sound get out!

Your input signal can be connected to the amplifier with two short pieces of wire, but if the connection needs to be long, use screened cable, with the braid connected as shown in Figure 2.

If you decide to use a different loudspeaker, make sure that its impedance (the resistance value marked on the back of the magnet) is at least 35 ohms. Anything lower may damage TR2 and TR3, and will certainly run down your battery very quickly. You will be surprised at the uses you can find for this little amplifier!

Parts list


A medium-wave receiver using a ferrite-rod aerial


This design came from the Norfolk Amateur Radio Club, and enables you to build a simple Amplitude Modulation (AM) receiver for frequencies between 600 kHz and 1600 kHz. it should take you around 2 hours to build, and can be used with Walkman-type earpieces. Figure 1 shows the circuit

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