Connect with us

Foxhole Radio tuning help. My first circuit!

Discussion in 'General Electronics Discussion' started by monkeybanana, Jan 21, 2012.

Scroll to continue with content
  1. monkeybanana

    monkeybanana

    16
    0
    Jan 21, 2012
    Hello everyone, this is my first post here.

    I am building my first circuit (outside of class) and am having trouble tuning my radio.

    What I have:

    So far I just have a coil made from the wires inside a telephone cord wrapped around a toilet-paper-roll tube, an antenna (also a telephone wire), and an IN4002 diode that my friend gave me (I bought a zener diode, whoops).

    Luckily with 95 turns on my first try I got Radio Disney! That's AM 1310 here in San Francisco. I never enjoyed listening to crappy pop music so much.

    Here is the problem:

    I would like to change the resonant frequency in the "tank" with a variable capacitor but when I insert a capacitor in parallel with the coil no signal comes through the speakers or headphones! I've looked at many schematics and pictures of these radios with the same set-up so I don't know what I am doing wrong. I have used capacitor values from .01 uF to the higher pF ranges.

    I can try to get a picture of the set-up as soon as I go to my friend's house again where he has all the wires and breadboard I can use.

    p.s. Looking at several schematics, some authors have the diode pointing towards the coil while others have it pointing out to the earphones. I am wondering if the cat-whisker or razor-blade and pencil detector worked backwards?

    edit: I forgot to insert a diagram!
    [​IMG]

    Thanks,
    Yann
     
    Last edited: Jan 21, 2012
  2. Raven Luni

    Raven Luni

    798
    8
    Oct 15, 2011
  3. duke37

    duke37

    5,364
    772
    Jan 9, 2011
    The diode that you have is a power diode with a large internal capacitance and is slow. You would be better off with a 1N914 or 1N4148 which are very common. Even better is a small Schottky diode such as BAT43.

    A small capacitor (1000pF) across the speaker would also help.

    Crystal sets work with the incoming energy and any loss in the circuitry has a big effect.
    There is a compromise to be made between sensitivity and selectivity.
     
  4. monkeybanana

    monkeybanana

    16
    0
    Jan 21, 2012
    Thank you both for the quick replies!

    @Raven L. That calculator beats doing it by hand! I'm just not confident with my value for L at the moment but I guess I could get a ballpark value for C.

    @duke. Thanks for the tip on diodes. I'm going to order some today. Now as for the cap across the speaker, I thought the speaker itself had a capacitance which coupled with the circuit filters out the high freq. carrier wave thus adding another in parallel with the speaker would increase the filtering? (My goal is to understand all the steps in the circuit.)

    Thanks again, after I can get this tuning to work I plan to make an amplifier for this thing.
     
  5. alfa88

    alfa88

    344
    5
    Dec 1, 2010
    If you're in the Bay Area you have a plethora of part sources. Radio Shack for limited selection, Fry's better and Jameco Best. For a crystal radio I'd go with a Germanium diode Jameco has1N270 in stock. As far as the capacitance goes. pF is smaller than uF. Next. Your inductor sounds like it has some capacitance in it. Maybe due to the fact that you're using telephone wire and not 'magnet' wire. Magnet wire has an enameled coating which allows for a tighter wrap and reduces capacitance. Using that may allow you to use a capacitor in the tank that will allow some tuning.
     
    Last edited: Jan 21, 2012
  6. duke37

    duke37

    5,364
    772
    Jan 9, 2011
    A germanium diode is good but difficult to find on this side of the planet.

    The speaker is not a capacitace, it is an inductance. There will be some capacitance from wiring etc. but a small capacitor across the speaker enables the circuit to supply pulses of current through the diode without too much opposition.
     
  7. monkeybanana

    monkeybanana

    16
    0
    Jan 21, 2012
    @alfa88. Awesome about having places to go. I love Fry's but it's a little on the far side since I don't drive. I will try Jameco on Monday, looks promising.
    I was hoping to get this radio to work with my ghetto coil but if it fails I will make one with magnet wire. I should be able to put a capacitor in series with the coil to get the capacitance lower, right? Thanks for the heads up about pF being smaller than uF, I noticed that after posting (I'm still getting comfortable working with small units)

    @duke. So does not having a capacitor across the speaker block current due to high impedance from the speaker? This is very helpful!
     
  8. KMoffett

    KMoffett

    723
    75
    Jan 21, 2009
    I thinks that's wrong. Intra-winding capacitance goes down with increased winding spacing. Same as increasing the spacing between capacitor plates decreases capacitance.

    http://d4magnetics.com/page7/page7.html

    For the "same" wire gauge, tightly spaces enamel wire would have a higher distributed capacitance than tightly spaced, plastic sleeved telephone wire. The inductance would also be higher for the enamel wire.

    Ken
     
  9. KMoffett

    KMoffett

    723
    75
    Jan 21, 2009
    For a real trench radio, you can also make your own diode with a piece of graphite "pencil lead" and a "Blue Blade" razor blade. For the variable capacitor you can use two pieces of foil or sheet metal on opposite sides of an insulation sheet, like paper, plastic, or glass.

    Ken
     
  10. monkeybanana

    monkeybanana

    16
    0
    Jan 21, 2012
    Thanks Ken. For now I want to get the circuit working and since I can easily switch and control values for capacitors and diodes I want to make the radio with modern components. Down the line I do want to make the radio out of recycles parts.

    Good to know about the wiring.
     
  11. alfa88

    alfa88

    344
    5
    Dec 1, 2010
    Me thinks you're right Ken. I didn't think too hard on that one. Perhaps Mr. Banana will need to experiment with the number of windings. This has piqued my curiosity. Now I wanna make one.:D
     
  12. monkeybanana

    monkeybanana

    16
    0
    Jan 21, 2012
    For anyone reading this in the future, a germanium diode makes a big difference as does a good antenna (I attached my wire with alligators to my blinds rolled up at the top of my window. The variable capacitor now works and I get up to 5 stations! More if I add capacitors.

    Also, note that the variable capacitor adds capacitance to the circuit even when set to 0 pF! Mine adds about 180 pF. This makes the receiver jump from 1350 kHz to 810 kHz!!!!
     
  13. KMoffett

    KMoffett

    723
    75
    Jan 21, 2009
    Variable capacitors don't go to 0pF. They go from some "maximum"value to some "minimum" value, but not to zero.

    Congratulations!

    Ken
     
  14. alfa88

    alfa88

    344
    5
    Dec 1, 2010
    Good stuff, congrats.:D
     
  15. monkeybanana

    monkeybanana

    16
    0
    Jan 21, 2012
    That makes a lot of sense :)

    Thanks everyone for all the help.
     
  16. duke37

    duke37

    5,364
    772
    Jan 9, 2011
    Excellent job.
    Please let us know how you get on, have you tried a Shottky diode, have you fitted a capacitor across the speaker? What differences did these make?
    Will you be trying home made diode detector?

    Duke
     
  17. monkeybanana

    monkeybanana

    16
    0
    Jan 21, 2012
    I have not tried a Shottky diode but I'm curious if it will perform differently. I will get my hands on one and see. As for the home made diode, I am going to "blue" a razor at my friend's house where there is a gas stove (I have an electric) and try to make the detector.

    The 1000 pF capacitor does help a bit for some of the stations that have noise. There are a couple of stations that I can't really isolate and that's where the cap comes in handy.
    I have a .1 uF capacitor that I got for my power supply project and put it in for fun which muffles all the stations.

    Thanks duke!
     
Ask a Question
Want to reply to this thread or ask your own question?
You'll need to choose a username for the site, which only take a couple of moments (here). After that, you can post your question and our members will help you out.
Electronics Point Logo
Continue to site
Quote of the day

-