Two hands holding a 3d printed alarm clock with an LCD display, snooze button and knob on top

IO Connected Radio Alarm Clock

[CoreWeaver] creates an alarm clock that includes features one might expect in such a project, including an FM radio, snooze button inputs and a display, but goes beyond the basic functionality to include temperature sensing and a PC connection, opening the way for customizable functionality.

Block diagram for the IO connected Alarm Clock

An Atmega328 is used for the main microcontroller which communicates via I2C both to a DS1307 real time clock (RTC) and a TEA5767 FM module. The main power comes from a 9V power source with an LM317 and LM7805 linear regulators providing a 3.3V and 5V power rail, respectively. Most of the electronics are powered using 5V except for the TEA5767, which is powered from the 3.3V rail and has its I2C communication levels shifted from 5V to 3.3V. The audio output of the TEA5767 feeds directly into the TDA7052 audio amplifier to drive the speakers. Since the RTC has an auxiliary coin cell battery for power, the alarm clock can keep accurate time even when not plugged in. Continue reading “IO Connected Radio Alarm Clock”

AM/FM Radio Gets Bluetooth Upgrade

For many commercial broadcast radio has lost its luster, leaving an unknowable number of perfectly serviceable AM/FM radios to lie dormant. But they don’t have to. As [Dan Gebhardt] shows in his recent hack, integrating a Bluetooth audio receiver into portable radio may be easier than you think.

For this project, [Dan] wanted to make sure no original functionality was lost. The radio still functions on the AM/FM bands, but now with the flip of a switch, he can listen to the audio coming his way courtesy of a Apt-X low-latency Bluetooth receiver. It sounds like the link is quick enough that he can even use this as a wireless speaker for watching TV, which isn’t always possible with cheaper chipsets that introduce a noticeable lag.

Isolating the audio trace.

The trick was to track down the receiver IC, a Silicon Labs chip similar to ones we’ve seen used in a few DIY radio projects previously. A peek at the datasheet told him which pins were carrying the audio signal, and after following them around the board, he found a convenient spot to cut the trace before it went into the volume control. From there is was just a matter of wiring in a SPDT slide switch that allowed him to select which device was passed through to the radio’s audio hardware.

While he had everything apart, [Dan] exorcised the Apt-X’s original 300 mAh LiPo pouch and replaced it with a DC-DC converter connected to the radio’s battery compartment. This allows him to run all of the hardware off of the same set of rechargeable NiMH cells, and also provides considerably improved runtime for the Bluetooth receiver.

Now as for physically integrating the Apt-X into the case of the radio…well, what can we say? [Dan] admits it’s a bit rough, but then the point was never to enter the thing into beauty pageants. It works well enough for his purposes, and in the end that’s all that matters.

A Field Guide To The North American Communications Tower

The need for clear and reliable communication has driven technology forward for centuries. The longer communication’s reach, the smaller the world becomes. When it comes to cell phones, seamless network coverage and low power draw are the ideals that continually spawn R&D and the eventual deployment of new equipment.

Almost all of us carry a cell phone these days. It takes a lot of infrastructure to support them, whether or not we use them as phones. The most recognizable part of that infrastructure is the communications tower. But what do you know about them?

Continue reading “A Field Guide To The North American Communications Tower”