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Looking for FM Radio Kit

sign216

Member
There are some FM radio shows I'd like to tune in to, so I'm keen on building an FM receiver. The kits I see online are geared more for kids, it seems.

What quality FM kits are out there, for adults looking for good performance receivers?

Joe
 

Mickster

Well-Known Member
Most Helpful Member
This may not be up your street, but it is a kit that is not for kids, receives FM, along with other frequencies that go from 100 kHz to 1.7 GHz, and gives good performance with any number of SDR apps.
If soldering tiny, and I really mean tiny, connections is not for you, you should give this a miss.

EDIT:
The only review on Amazon for that item gives 1 star, because there are no instructions.
Here is a Youtube tutorial, that guides the build:

And here is a PDF:
 
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sign216

Member
Thanks Mickster,
I'm looking for something a little more user-friendly. Not so many micro-joints, etc.
Joe
 

DrG

Active Member
You may want to check out the Si4844 AM/FM/SW chip. I built a radio using this chip a few years ago and I was surprised at how well it performed - especially FM. I still use it daily and may, one day, take it off of the breadboard.

They offer a kit, demo board, but it may not be easy to find. You can see one here that looks like it is in stock http://www.nextwarehouse.com/item/?2013763_g10e&gclid=EAIaIQobChMIpZr03d3T4gIVyJ6zCh311QcXEAQYAyABEgIGF_D_BwE and a pdf for it is https://www.silabs.com/documents/public/user-guides/Si4844-B-DEMO.pdf

Again, I never used the kit demo board, but the circuit I built using the chip works well imo.

Edit: I should not really call it a kit, it is a demo board for the chip and maybe it is not what you are asking for. You can look at the the user guide pdf to get a feel for what it is like.
 
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Mickster

Well-Known Member
Most Helpful Member
OK cool, can you tell us what you would be most comfortable with.....do you need a kit provided by a manufacturer?
Would you prefer that the components are through-hole only?
Would SMT components be ok, as long at they are not too small?
Do you need a ready-made PCB, or are you able to follow a schematic and make your own circuit on stripboard or veroboard?
 

Nigel Goodwin

Super Moderator
Most Helpful Member
There are some FM radio shows I'd like to tune in to, so I'm keen on building an FM receiver. The kits I see online are geared more for kids, it seems.

What quality FM kits are out there, for adults looking for good performance receivers?

Joe
If you're wanting to listen to FM radio, then just buy one - it's likely to be cheaper and perform better than a kit - radios are cheap enough these days.
 

sign216

Member
Mickster and DrG,
I've got experience w through the board soldering. I could give SMT a shot, as long the components are on the larger side.
I've used bread boards before, but never made a printed circuit board. So...I'm game, but would still lean towards a ready-made board.

Nigel,
You are right, I can buy a cheap dimestore radio. No need to grow you own vegetables either, or mend your own clothing, or.....
 

sign216

Member
Ronsimpson,
I looked at your link. Thought provoking. The reviews and comments are mixed. Most say that it's actually part of a radio course, and one needs an oscilloscope and a signal generator to fine-tune the parts. Interestingly, " module allows you to switch between the modern integrated circuit (IC) technology and the original transistor technology " so that a student can test both theories of operation.

One reviewers says
"this is technically a very simple superhet receiver and probably the cheapest chinese Radios will have better reception Quality.. this is not for everyday listening, especially if you don't have the equipment to fine-adjust the coils. "

Another review: "It's a learning tool not the greatest radio"


Is Nigel right, and I should just cave in like a lemming and buy a radio?

Joe
 

ronsimpson

Well-Known Member
Most Helpful Member
Any radio that has adjustable coils need special tools and some knowledge to get it working well. (post #6 square metal cans)
Post # 4: I worked for Silicon Labs for a project. I worked on those "software" radios. There is nothing to adjust.
 

Nigel Goodwin

Super Moderator
Most Helpful Member
Is Nigel right, and I should just cave in like a lemming and buy a radio?
I am if what you're wanting is a radio to listen to?, which is what you originally said.

If what you're wanting is to build a kit, then that's a different matter.

In particular you asked for a 'quality' radio - you're unlikely to find that in a kit, as it has to be tolerant to poor construction, and poor alignment -kit builders are unlikely to have the equipment for accurate alignment.

There are a number of cheap radio kits available from Banggood etc. and if you want to build a kit, then buy one of those - and if you want a 'quality' radio to listen to, then buy a quality commercially manufactured radio.

I presume you are aware that FM is on the way out, and DAB is taking over from it?.

Back in ancient history you could buy quality radio (and other) kits, such as Heathkit, but they weren't cheap - and even back then you could buy ready made similar quality at lower prices. But Heathkit were designed for the beginner, and came with exceptional instructions - even allowing alignment without much in the way of test equipment.

The cheap Chinese kits come with instructions that reflect the cost of the kits - usually NONE!.
 

sign216

Member
I presume you are aware that FM is on the way out, and DAB is taking over from it?.

Back in ancient history you could buy quality radio (and other) kits, such as Heathkit, but they weren't cheap - and even back then you could buy ready made similar quality at lower prices. But Heathkit were designed for the beginner, and came with exceptional instructions - even allowing alignment without much in the way of test equipment.

The cheap Chinese kits come with instructions that reflect the cost of the kits - usually NONE!.
Nigel,
I'm in the USA, where FM is still prevalent over DAB.

Yes, a kit like an Heathkit would be best. The kits I'm finding are either for children, or cheap w little support.

So for now, I'm leaning towards the Silicon Labs non-kit, and the Velleman Radio kit. Both are attached below.

Joe
 

Attachments

JimB

Super Moderator
Most Helpful Member
Is Nigel right, and I should just cave in like a lemming and buy a radio?
Nigel often says that one should "just buy one".
Having read your posts describing your requirements, I think that he is correct in this case.
If you want a "good radio" to listen to, you should just buy one.

However, also consider buying a second hand radio from wherever (car boot sale, junkshop, W.H.Y.)
This can be used as your "experimental radio", which you can experiment with to your hearts content to find out how it works, try to improve it, etc.
If it ends badly in a smoking pile of scrap, it is not a great loss in terms of £/$/Euro etc.

JimB
 

DrG

Active Member
/--/
Post # 4: I worked for Silicon Labs for a project. I worked on those "software" radios. There is nothing to adjust.
..and you and them did a heck of a good job! Apart from a tuning pot, there is, in fact, nothing to adjust just as you said. I simply do not have the "analog" skills to build anything like that...the software, I could manage.
 

DrG

Active Member
Mickster and DrG,
I've got experience w through the board soldering. I could give SMT a shot, as long the components are on the larger side.
I've used bread boards before, but never made a printed circuit board. So...I'm game, but would still lean towards a ready-made board.

Nigel,
You are right, I can buy a cheap dimestore radio. No need to grow you own vegetables either, or mend your own clothing, or.....
You can see the Si4844 circuit that I referred to here https://www.allaboutcircuits.com/projects/build-an-arduino-controlled-am-fm-sw-radio/ I did do a bit of SMT, including the receiver chip. For me, it was manageable with carrier boards, but a little difficult. That route also requires programming knowledge (I used a simple 3V Pro Mini).

Here is another non-kit https://www.banggood.com/DSP-PLL-Digital-Stereo-FM-Radio-Receiver-Module-87-108MHz-With-Serial-Control-p-1004778.html?rmmds=search&cur_warehouse=CN that I don't think has been mentioned yet. No idea if it is any good, but it is relatively cheap.
 

Nigel Goodwin

Super Moderator
Most Helpful Member
The two kits below seem like they're the best candidates. Are they viable, or will they give low end performance compared to a radio from the corner store?
Joe
The radios where you have a single auto-seek button (like the Velleman one) are usually exceptionally poor performers, as is pretty obvious by their lack of components. TheSi4844 is probably somewhat better, but that also is lacking in any sort of RF/IF tuning, and will be a poor performer compared with a proper superhet radio - however, it looks a fun thing to play with.

Really, to get good performance, you need good RF tuning, and good IF tuning as well - although the advent of ceramic filters has pretty well sorted out any IF tuning issues, and stopped the need for IF alignment.
 

audioguru

Well-Known Member
Most Helpful Member
My first FM tuner was a kit from Eico that I made in about 1961. It was a superhet and produced hifi sound. The next year I made the stereo multiplex adapter kit for it. They used vacuum tubes. Two years later I sold it and the vacuum tubes Heathkit stereo amplifier I made. Then I bought my first hifi stereo receiver.
 

unclejed613

Well-Known Member
Most Helpful Member
I've got experience w through the board soldering.
one thing to be aware of, is the radio needs to be aligned once it's built. that's best done with signal generators. it can be done with on-air signals, but if you build a kit with FM-Stereo, you will definitely need a sig gen with multiplex stereo to get stereo working. suffice it to say that with modern mass-produced am/fm and TV tuner modules, alignment has almost become a lost art.

interesting anecdote from "back in the day" after aligning a Pioneer receiver, including the stereo decoder, there still was no stereo, and the alignment step where the stereo light was supposed to light up failed, even though everything was adjusted properly. it turned out that that particular decoder chip wouldn't decode if the stereo lamp bulb was open circuit. it seems the lamp also supplied power to the mux chopper inside the chip
 

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