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]

Laser mic makes eavesdropping remarkably simple

Here’s a surprisly simple way to build yourself a laser-based listening device. It consists of two modules, a transmitter and a receiver. The transmitter is a set of lasers, one is visible red for aiming, and the other is infrared for measuring the vibration of a surface. Point the transmitter at the window of the room you want to listen in on and the laser can be reflected back to the receiver. The receiver module has a phototransistor to pick up the infrared laser light, and an LM386 audio amplifier to generate the audio signal sent to a pair of headphone. The need to be well-aligned which is easy enough using a pair of tripods. Check out the demo after the break.

Looking for something to do with the leftover laser diodes from this project? Try making yourself a laser microscope.

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Build a tetrahedral ambisonic microphone

[Dan Hemingson’s] been refining a design for building a tetrahedral ambisonic recording system. This is a set of four microphones used to record audio that can later be mixed down for a three-dimensional listening experience. His goal is an easy and inexpensive build while maintaining the highest fidelity standards possible. Lucky for us he’s made a set of extremely detailed build instructions you can use to make your own. In addition to the mounting bracket seen above he has also developed a pre-amp module that connects to the four mics; it’s part of the build instructions with schematic and board layout files available as well.

[Thanks Isaac]

Small CNC gadget draws what it hears

This art piece makes drawings based on sound. [Mario Marchese], who is responsible for those illusion props back in february, built this little guy out of a bunch of junk he had lying around. It features four microphones that listen to ambient sound and feed the signal through some LM386 audio power amplifiers. The output is translated into forward, backward, left, and right movements of the writing platform while the pen is fixed in the same position. Despite what we said in the title of the post this isn’t strictly a CNC machine, but more the primordial cousin of one.

Collect and analyze ECG data


Although we’ve covered DIY ECGs before, [Scott Harden] sent in his version that gives an in-depth explanation of what to do with the collected data. He built a basic battery-powered op-amp-based ECG for under $1. The circuit just amplifies the signal from the chest leads and feeds it into a computer via the microphone port. He then used GoldWave to record, filter, and save the signal. From there, he used python to analyze the heartbeat and calculate his heart rate and further manipulate the data. His previous blog posts go into more detail on how the python code works and why he chose software over hardware filters.

Stereo microphones in an MSI Wind


[Matt] wrote in to tell us about this project. He plans on travelling with his MSI Wind and wanted better audio recording capabilities. He decided to install an additional microphone and a preamp. He made a custom preamp and wired it directly to the motherboard. The microphone was then mounted in the laptop screen. The second microphone is placed opposite of the first, about 18cm apart which [Matt] claims gives it a binaural effect. We think that this might just classify as stereo though. Wouldn’t you have to seperate them with a barrier or dampening device for binaural? It doesn’t really matter though, stereo mics are a great addition to the MSI Wind, and he did it very well. He does point out that it picks up a lot of noise though. There’s always room for improvement.

Condenser microphone building


Browsing around today, this project caught our eye. Mainly due to the visual similarity to, well, personal massagers. As it turns out, it’s a home made studio condenser microphone. We would generally prefer to link directly to his personal page, that has a slightly more in dept write up, but it has popups and pop unders, so enter at your own risk.  Generally condenser mics require phantom power to make the magic happen, but he has included a circuit to run them off of 9v batteries. We’ve done condenser mics before, but this seems a bit quicker and dirtier.