3.6 Universal Audio AmplifierIn majority of the receivers described so far, as well as in many those that will be described further, an audio amplifier is being used. This makes it useful to build an universal amplifier that would be used during testing of all receivers. That can be the circuit from pic.3.21 (from C4 inclusive to the right), but it can be something else, too, e.g. the one from the pic.3.22. Two IC’s are used in it: operational amplifier TLO71 as the pre-amplifier, and LM386 as the power amplifier. The TLO741 is exactly the same as the more famous 741, the only difference laying in fact that TLO71 has the FET on its input, and 741 - the bipolar transistor. Since inverting input is being used in the operational amplifier, its voltage amplification is given by Au=RP/R1, where RP stands for the potentiometer resistance from the sliding contact to its left end. When the slider is at its rightmost position, it is then RP=470 kOhms, yielding Au=470, and when it’s at its leftmost position the RP=0, therefore Au=0. As you can see, moving the slider changes the amplification from 0 to 470. That’s what theory says, the practice is, of course, somewhat different. When capacitors are being connected between the input and ground, maximum amplification gets lower than 470 but is still more than enough for our needs.
* All the receivers that have been described so far, as well as all those to come, can be tested with this universal amplifier. That is done by taking the signal from the Detector output (through two wires as short as possible or through the microphone cable that can be significantly longer) to the amplifier input (between left end of C1 and Ground). If the antenna, input circuit (and other stages, if exist) are OK, you will be able to hear the tuned station program from the loudspeaker. The sound volume can be adjusted by moving the slider of the potentiometer P. PCB and component layout are given on pic.3.23.
* KS marks the short-circuit wire. It’s a piece of wire which ends are taken through the holes on the plate and soldered. It can be omitted, but then the left end of potentiometer is to be soldered in such a way to be connected to the bottom end of R1.
* To connect the potentiometer with the PCB, as well as the male, a shielded cable should be used. The shield (outside conductor) is connected to the Ground. If cables are shorter than app. 10 cm, the ordinary wires can be used instead.
* The amplifier, the loudspeaker and the battery (or adapter) are put in the common box, on whose front plate the potentiometer, the switch and some simple plug (the chinch will do) are mounted. If the device is powered from the adapter, it is useful to also mount a LED. With these parts you have made yourself the so-called “active loudspeaker”, which is a very useful gadget for every electronics lover.
* Just before you start mounting and soldering the components, clean well the PCB copper conductors with a piece of wet sponge dipped in some cleaning powder. Components should be mounted and soldered in the following order: short-circuits, resistors, IC’s, capacitors (all except C4), connecting wires and microphone cables (if used). The last component to be mounted is the C4 capacitor, but first you have to check whether the amplifier operates correctly.
Connect the loudspeaker, and the wire marked as “B” on pic.3.23-c connect to the minus battery pole. The other end of the wire marked as “A” should be connected to one probe of the multimeter, which is to be set to measure DC current. Contact the plus battery pole with second instrument probe, and it will measure the idle current of the amplifier, which should be app. 5 mA. If this is OK, touch the pin No.2 of the LM386 with finger, and if everything is fine you will hear the 50 Hz hum from the loudspeaker. The power amplifier is OK. You can now solder C4. Touch the left end of the wire that is connected to the C1 with your finger, the hum should be heard again from the loudspeaker, its loudness depending upon the position of the slider of the potentiometer P. (If you don’t possess an instrument, connect the battery on the wires “A” and “B” and do the touching described. If you hear the hum, the amplifier is OK).
If the Idle current is zero or is significantly bigger than 5 mA, something is wrong. If it’s zero, check out whether you have connected your instrument properly and whether it is functioning. Remove the instrument and connect the battery directly to the wires A and B. Touch the pin No.2 of LM386 with your finger, if you hear the hum - your instrument is malfunctioning. However, if the instrument is OK, you should check the DC voltages. Set your multimeter to measure DC voltages, connect one probe (the one marked with the ground sign) to the amplifier ground (minus battery pole) and with second probe touch the plus battery pole first, and then pin No.6 of LM386. These two voltages should be equal to the battery (supply) voltage. Contact then pin No.7 of the TLO71. This voltage should be slightly smaller than the supply voltage. Voltages at pin No.5 of LM386 and No.7 of the TLO71 should be app. equal to the one half of the supply (battery) voltage.
Try to locate the malfunction based on your measurements. Check out if there are some discontinued copper lines on the print, or if two adjacent lines are connected (by themselves or by a small piece of tin that you dropped from the iron during soldering), whether all junctions are the way they should be, if you happened to mount some electrolytic capacitors or IC’s upside-down, etc.
When you make sure that everything is fine, un-solder the potentiometer and the loudspeaker and put them on the front box panel. Also mount the plug and the switch, the LED (if used) etc. Tighten the plate with two small wood screws to the side pane, placing the LM386 on top (above the TLO71). Two distant-rings are to be mounted between the plate and the wood, making the distance between them a few (say, 5) mm. (These rings can be cut from some small plastic pipe). The screws are first to be put through the plate holes, then the rings and then screwed in the panel. After all this you can connect the loudspeaker, the switch, the battery, etc.