Earlier this year, we featured an unusual radio receiver that took the very traditional superhetrodyne design and implemented it in an unexpected fashion without any inductors, using instead a combination of 74HC logic chips and op-amps. Its designer [acidbourbon] remarks that the circuit bears a striking resemblance to a ring modulator,so has taken it down that path by producing a 74HC based ring modulator guitar pedal.
In both circuits, a 74HC4046 phase-locked loop chip serves as an oscillator, driving a 74HC4051 analogue switch chip that performs the mixer task. The extra-op-amp filter and demodulator circuitry from the radio is omitted, and the oscillator frequency moved down to the audio range. The result can be heard in the video, and we probably agree with him that it’s not quite the same as a classic ring modulator. This lies in the type of mixer, the diodes used in a traditional circuit have a forward voltage to overcome before they start or end conducting, while the CMOS switch chip does so immediately on command.
The 4000 series CMOS and their descendants are a fascinating family with many unexpected properties that our colleague Elliot Williams has gone into detail with for his Logic Noise series. Meanwhile take a look at our coverage of the original radio.