Building a simple FM transmitter bug

simple_fim_transmitter_hack_a_week

[Dino] got his hands on an FM transmitter “bug” kit via a friend, and thought it would make for an easy and fun Hack a Week project. The kit is simple two transistor half-wave FM transmitter, which the manufacturer suggests could be used to bug a room, hence the name. After poking a bit of fun at the instructions, [Dino] gets to work building the transmitter, wrapping things up in a little less than an hour.

Once he finished soldering everything together, he takes a few moments to test out the bug and to explain how various parts of the board work together in order to transmit the FM signal. He mentions that adding a dipole antenna would make it easy to extend the range of the transmitter, and briefly teases next week’s episode, where he plans on constructing a similar dual-stage transmitter.

This sort of FM circuit is one of the first few simple projects you would see in a beginner’s electronics class, so if you know anyone that is just starting to get their feet wet, be sure to pass this Hack a Week episode along.

Continue reading to see [Dino] explain the ins and outs of his FM bug transmitter.

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Simple FM transmitter that shows off its own circuitry

[Sean Michael Ragan] built this FM transmitter which shows off its circuitry via a clear plastic dome. The device is electrically identical to one we looked at in September. That version championed a construction method that used small squares of copper clad as solder points which were each super-glued to a large copper-clad platform serving as a ground plane. [Sean] is using a printed circuit board that was laid out by Sonodrome. You can check out their own glass-jar transmitter build where the board artwork is available for download.

One of the tips we enjoyed from [Sean's] step-by-step build is the coil wrapping. He used the threads of a 1/4-20 bolt to guide copper wire as he wrapped a total of four turns. Once the bending is done, just unthread the bolt to separate it from the coil and gently stretch the wire for a 12mm distance between the two leads. Not only is this visually pleasing, but it will help with transmission clarity.

Minty FM Transmitter

[Chis] wanted an FM transmitter bug device packed in a mint tin, and that is just what he made. Featuring only 17 discrete parts, running off of a 3volt coin cell battery, and small enough to fit inside of a plastic mint box and still have plenty of room for the mints.

Using a simple design the audio enters the device through a electret microphone and hits a transistor for amplification, the signal is then passed to the oscillator section of the circuit which features an LC tank type design which generates the carrier frequency and mixes that with the signal for a range of about 100 feet indoors.

Each section is broken down into steps where it is thoroughly explained with animations, theory, and simulation, if you are wondering how a transistor, wire, and capacitors make an FM transmitter, or if you would like to just make the final project, schematics, pcb files, and assembly instructions are provided as well.

Join us after the break for a short video and be sure to check out the other radio transmitters we have featured as well.

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All-band receiver hides in plain sight

This handheld radio has a little secret. You’re not going to be able to listen to Limbaugh since the original FM tuning circuit has been removed and replaced by a diode detector. Now [Miguel A. Vallejo] a discreet way to look for interesting radio signals in public.

The first step that he took was to remove the circuit board from the case and depopulate the tuning circuit while leaving the audio amplifier hardware. Next he referenced a proven design and built the diode detector circuit on a piece of protoboard. Finally he patched the new circuit into the original audio amplifier (seen in the image above) and put everything back in the case. Now he can listen in on data burst from a keypress on a computer keyboard, RF data communications, and slew of other noise sources.

This would be really handy for tracking down the electrical noise that’s screwing up your project.

[Thanks Superlopez]

FM bug using salvaged SMD parts

If you’re a soldering ninja this FM transmitter bug is for you. It’s quite similar to the one we looked at yesterday, but this uses 100% salvaged parts. Two phones donated components; a Nokia 3210 for its voltage-controlled oscillator and a Nokia 1611 for the rest of the parts. The bad news is that mobile technology like cellphones use some of the smallest surface mount packages known to man. That’s where the soldering skill come into play. The good news is that if you’ve been scavenging for discarded phones in order to reuse their LCD screens you already have these parts on hand.

[Thanks George]

Tiny FM transmitter bugs rooms

Lucid Science delves into spy-tech once again with this tiny FM transmitter. Their post demonstrates a bit larger version than seen above, using a 9-volt battery and protoboard sized to match which makes for easier soldering. The design uses a microphone, two transistors, enameled wire for the coil, as well as various resistors, capacitors, and a potentiometer. What you end up with is an amazingly clear audio signal that can be picked up with a normal FM radio.

This would make a great project to do with the kids. You can talk about circuit design, practice soldering, and when finished they’ve got an almost miraculous toy to play with. Just be careful what you say around the house, the room might be bugged!

A simple FM transmitter

Here is a low component count FM transmitter. It sacrifices some features, like the ability to adjust the frequency, for simplicity’s sake. The build method is fairly common with amateur radio but we don’t see it around here too much. Each component gets a 5mm-by-5mm copper clad pad which is super glued to the ground plate as an insulator. There’s even a pictorial example of this method if you need some help with visualization.

One of the schematics included in the article shows how to incorporate a condenser microphone into the unit. We guess that makes it pretty easy to add an FM ‘bug’ to your arsenal of covert listening devices. Just make sure to check your local laws before building and using this. We’re not sure what the FCC would think of it here in America so we’re hoping some well-informed readers will educate us with a comment.

[Thanks Bart]

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