Friday, 20 June 2014

8.6-8.9 MHz AM Transmitter



On this post, I am going to show how to design an AM transmitter. AM transmitter is one of the simplest modulation system. Other simplest modulation system is CW (Continuous Wave). AM produced by adding information signal to carrier signal. This process is called wave superposition. Carrier signal is signal that carries information signal to another location. Carrier signal also called RF (Radio Frequency). RF spreads from lowest frequency of MF (Medium Frequency): 300KHz up to highest of Satellite Frequencies (around 15GHz).

Simple AM transmitter made of 2 stages. Preliminary stage consists of oscillator, and 2nd. stage consists of RF amplifier. You could add/design your own succeeding stages, thus improve output power and transmission distance.
When information signal is in form of directly added digital signal, this modulation is called ASK (Amplitude Shift Keying). This AM transmitter could also modulated by BPSK, QPSK and AFSK (Audio Frequency Shift Keying), but those signals of BPSK, QPSK, and AFSK should be formed first. On this research, I modulate carrier with analog signal only, so called "AM".

On this design, I have designed oscillator with Colpitts Oscillator system that has good frequency stability (fulfil certain criteria first). Class A RF amplifier stage built as voltage amplifier that tries to increase output AC voltage compared to input. Because transistor characteristic also increases current, this voltage amplifier also increases output power compared to input. Both oscillator and RF amplifier use common emitter configuration and NPN transistors. Output impedance of AF/RF Class A transistor amplifier with common emitter configuration is around 50,000 (50K) Ohms. Output impedance of any amplifiers could be downed using impedance transformer. Most of audio speaker have 8 Ohms impedance. In this case, needed 50,000 Ohms to 8 Ohms impedance transformer. Most of transmitter antenna have 50 Ohms impedance. In this case, needed impedance transformer that could change 50,000 Ohms into 50 Ohms. Output impedance of AF/RF PushPull Class B or Class AB transistor amplifier with common emitter configuration is around 100,000 (100K) Ohms. PushPull Class B transistor amplifier formed from 2 Class B transistor amplifiers put in parallel, output impedance forms series (50,000 + 50,000 Ohms). PushPull Class B or Class AB transistor amplifier works more efficient, because reduces existence of Collector Voltage, but works less linear compared to Class A. In Class A, there is Collector Voltage existence (consumes energy), but this Class A more linear compared to PushPull Class B or Class AB. Class AB PushPull amplifier is modification of Class B PushPull amplifier in order to reduce crossover distortion. So from side of linearity, Class A is best, Class AB PushPull is second, and Class B PushPull is third.

In order to design an oscillator or RF amplifier, you would need oscilloscope at least. There are various kinds of oscilloscope, eg. 5MHz oscilloscope could measure RF up to 5MHz accurately. 20MHz oscilloscope could measure RF up to 20MHz accurately. If oscilloscope used above specification, oscilloscope could still show current curve/graphic, but could not measure voltage or frequency accurately. Eg. if you like to design VHF FM transmitter with frequency around 90MHz, you would need at least 5MHz oscilloscope and frequency counter that could measure 90MHz. Oscilloscope needed especially to measure voltage amplification accurately.

RF amplifier voltage amplification (on this design): 0.5Vpp/2.3Vpp= 0.217 . Current-gain bandwidth product (fT) of 2SC2053 is not mentioned in 2SC2053 DataSheet. In DataSheet only mentioned that 2SC2053 is transistor for VHF RF Amplifier. That's why I didn't doubt to use this transistor. Transistor with VHF purpose could be used at HF and AF. Maximum frequency of VHF is 300MHz, so I assumed fT little beat higher than 300MHz. Assumed 2SC2053 fT=400MHz ---> ßrf=400/8.8=45.45 so power gain/amplification=0.217x45.45=9.86 .

This means if earlier stage produces z Watts, this RF amplifier would increase power to 9.86z Watts.RF amplifier principle is to amplify power from stage to stage. Succeeding stage should have more power compared to earlier. This principle could be used if you don't know fT of one transistor. Just estimate fT of that transistor, keep calculate, and after you've finished particular stage, just check its power. Its power should be more compared to earlier stage. If you are designing RF amplifier, you could check S (signal) meter at receiver that shows power strength of particular transmitter. If that stage fails to improve power, you should recalculate that amplifier. In my experiment, my receiver S meter showed increase signal when RF amplifier applied compared to "just" oscillator applied, means 2SC2053 fT=400MHz is good estimation, and this RF amplifier works to amplify oscillator power.Wherever you like to assemble this circuit (or any RF circuits): on breadboard or PCB, there should be "certain" distance between lines. Between lines could not be placed too closed, due to RF absorption.

I've tried to modulate this transmitter with song signal from small radio/tape player. This "analog signal" is added/joined with carrier signal at oscillator output (at this design at oscillator collector). Because this radio/tape player produces sufficient power, I do not need impedance transformer. I only add 1Kohm variable resistor to adjust modulation index. Good AM transmitter when modulation index=1. If modulation index more than 1 (too much information signal power added), this transmitter would suffered "over modulation", while if modulation index less than 1, this transmitter would be in "lack of modulation". Result: Good for HF AM class, although would not as good as VHF FM transmitter, because HF is full of static noise (QRN) from electric power and full of signal from all over World (QRM), while VHF is relatively clearer. One good thing about HF transmitter: it could travel very far without satellite help because this band signal is reflected by ionosphere, even many times I've communicated with places with distance around 20 thousands kilometers away from my location with small transmitter power only (used HF).

This transmitter also completed with "long wire" antenna put in high location with big diameter of wire. One end of long wire connected to antenna sign at schema. Although this transmitter not completed with antenna impedance matcher, but existence of any good antennas would help electromagnetic wave to spread better. When transmitter output impedance, transmission line characteristic impedance, and antenna input impedance are match, voltage & current at load (antenna) would be maximized, thus maximize power at antenna and transmission distance. If impedances are not match, there would be standing wave at transmission line, causes not all power dissipated at antenna, but portion of power dissipated at transmission line (reflected power), thus decreases antenna effectiveness.
Negative polarity of DC supply connected to ground sign.
RFCs I use are fabricated RFCs. One way to make 0.5349µH (tuning coil):
One way to make 0.5349µH coil
Under are schema of this design and photo of this circuit built at breadboard (if you are not clear with schema, just left click at that schema):

Hobby AM Transmitter



Here is the circuit diagram of a simple AM transmitter circuit that can transmit your audios to your backyard.This circuit is designed with limited  power output to match the FCC regulations and still produces enough amplitude modulation of voice in the medium wave band to satisfy your personal needs.You will love this!.

The circuit has two parts , an audio amplifier and a radio frequency oscillator. The oscillator is built around Q1 (BC109) and related components. The tank circuit with inductance L1 and capacitance VC1 is tunable in the range of 500kHz to 1600KHz. These components can be easily obtained from your old medium wave radio. Q1 is provided with regenerative feedback by connecting the base and collector of Q1 to opposite ends of the tank circuit. C2 ,the 1nF capacitance , couples signals from the base to the top of L1, and C4 the 100pF capacitance ensures that the oscillation is transfered from collector, to the emitter, and through the internal base emitter resistance of the transistor Q2 (BC 109) , back to the base again. The resistor R7 has a vital part in this circuit. It ensures that the oscillation will not be shunted to ground trough the very low value internal emitter resistance, re of Q1(BC 109), and also increases the input impedance such that the modulation signal will not be shunted to ground. Q2 is wired as a common emitter RF amplifier, C5 decouples the emitter resistance and unleashes full gain of this stage. The microphone can be electret condenser microphone and the amount of AM modulation can be adjusted by the 4.7 K variable resistanceR5.

Am Transmitter Circuit Diagram with Parts List.

Am Transmitter Circuit

Am Transmitter Circuit Diagram

Notes .
  • The transmission frequency can be adjusted using the variable capacitance C3.
  • Use a 200uH inductor for the L1 in the tank circuit.
  • Power the circuit using a 9V battery for noise free operation.
  • Use a 30 cm long insulated Copper wire as the antenna.

AM Micropower Transmitter


The picture to the left is a high quality radio transmitter for the A.M. broadcast band. The transmitter legally operates with "micro-power" and will not set any distance records but, unlike simpler designs, the frequency stays put and the fidelity is excellent. Although the schematic looks somewhat complex, the circuitry is easy to build and adjust for experimenters with a little "tweaking" experience. A simple output meter confirms proper signal level and checks antenna tuning while "on the air". Add an audio mixer, tape recorder, and perhaps a CD player and have a near-professional micro-power station.


Most values are not critical but a few choices must be made carefully for best results. The output tank is tuned to the crystal frequency by selecting the values from the chart above. For example, for a 1 MHz transmitter, the chart indicates 500 pf and 35 uh.  A 33uH and 550pF (470 + 82, perhaps) would be a good start. This chart assumes that a 220 pf capacitor is already connected between the collector and base of the output transistor as indicated in the schematic so the indicated capacitance is in addition to the 220 pf. A variable inductor or capacitor will allow the tank to be fine-tuned for the maximum meter reading with no antenna connected (a few volts with a 10 megohm voltmeter or about 50 microamps with a current meter). After the antenna is connected, the loading inductor in series with the antenna is selected for the minimum meter reading (best antenna loading). (A 3 foot antenna will need about 820 uH for a 1.6 MHz output frequency.) Longer antennas or higher frequencies need less inductance and shorter antennas or lower frequencies will need more. The meter reading should drop by more than half with a reasonably good antenna but the reading can be ignored if sufficient transmit range is achieved. The antenna, which is short relative to the wavelength, is hard to match well because it has a very low radiation resistance in series with a very small capacitor. (The power dissipated in the radiation resistance is the power that is transmitted.) The loading coil helps to resonate out some of the series capacity resulting in more antenna current and thus more radiated power. Some retuning of the tank may be desirable when the loading coil value is changed. A remote radio playing back through a baby monitor or walkie-talkie makes a good signal quality monitor for antenna tuning and positioning.

Note: The antenna in the picture above is just a short metal rod from an old fireplace screen stuck through an important-looking insulator strictly for appearance. It's really too short for optimum range. The 470 ohm resistor across the tank controls the Q when the antenna is short. You might be able to increase or even eliminate that resistor if your antenna and ground system are good enough. Try increasing the value, listening for distortion in a nearby radio.

The crystal can be practically any surplus crystal with a fundamental frequency between 530 kHz and 1.7 MHz in 10 kHz increments but the higher frequencies work best. Choose a crystal frequency away from strong local stations at or above 800 kHz for best transmit range. Proper operation of the oscillator may be verified by probing the junction of the two 1000 pf capacitors with a high impedance oscilloscope probe connected to a scope or frequency counter. Full modulation is achieved by applying about 2 volts peak-to-peak to the base of the current source transistor in the differential amplifier. The modulation voltage varies the current in the diff. amp. away from the nominal 20 ma. setpoint and this modulated current is converted to a clean, high voltage sinewave by the output tuning circuit. The modulated signal may be observed with an oscilloscope connected to the antenna terminal if desired.

The photo above shows a prototype built with metal transistors (just for looks!) and with a few additions like the variable capacitor in series with the crystal for fine tuning and the variable inductor in the collector of the output transistor. Circuit construction is mostly non-critical but a few points should be observed. Ground-plane is not mandatory but it helps control parasitic feedback elements when less than perfect layout techniques are used. The two capacitors across the base-collector leads of the diff-amp transistors should have short leads. Bypass the 15 volt supply well, perhaps with additional 1 uF capacitors not shown in the schematic. The 100 ohm emitter resistor in the modulator may be bypassed with a 22 ohm resistor in series with a 470 uf capacitor to increase the modulation sensitivity to about 1 volt peak-to-peak which is typical of many sources. Eliminating the 22 ohm resistor will increase sensitivity to under 100 mv but the linearity will suffer somewhat.

An amplifying audio mixer may be added as shown in fig. 2 if more than one audio source is to be used. The gain resistor might be near 2.8k for typical 300 mv sources or considerably higher for lower level sources. If the signal level is different for each source then vary the 600 ohm resistors to compensate. A larger resistor will reduce the gain. Set the main gain resistor for the weakest source then increase the 600 ohm resistors in the other channels for the proper balance. A fancy mixer panel could be constructed with potentiometers in place of the resistors. Remember that some op-amps are not sufficiently fast to amplify high fidelity audio. For simplicity, choose an internally-compensated audio op-amp such as the LM833. Since the LM833 is a dual op-amp the second amp could be used as a separate pre-amp for a microphone or other low-level sources using the same schematic as the mixer. The output of this amp simply feeds one of the mixer source inputs.



A continuous-loop tape could give sales information to passing cars. Place a sign that says, "tune to xxxAM for information," next to the house or car that is for sale.


Transmit special seasonal music at Christmas or Halloween to enhance your decorations. (Use a similar sign.)


Transmit a cassette player or other audio source to the car radio for better sound.


Make a pair of toy AM band two-way radios by adding inexpensive AM radios. Or talk between cars on a trip using the car radio for reception.


Make a baby monitor that works with any AM receiver.


Transmit control tones to a number of cheap AM receivers for unusual remote control applications.


Build a fully functional radio station for the kids - complete with vu meters, slide faders, and an "on the air" light.

Besides making a nice general purpose radio transmitter the Personal Radio Station is suitable for some nice practical jokes:

Hide the transmitter with a cassette tape player in your personal effects as you ride in the back seat of a friend's car. (Leave out the meter circuit to keep the size down.) Ask your friend to tune in that new radio station - since your transmitter is crystal controlled it will be at the right place on the dial. What your victim hears is up to you. The circuit will work reasonably well with a single 9 volt battery instead of 15 volts. How about a less than desirable school lunch menu for the kids. Or, if you are younger, an unexpected school closing for the day. (I didn't really suggest that one, did I?) A news announcement of your marriage proposal will get results. Local news personalities will probably be delighted to help make a tape.