A Feature-Rich Amplifier Module For 3-Way Speaker Builds

There’s something rewarding about building your own DIY audio hardware. Knowing you put it together yourself gives you faith in the construction, and psychosomatically makes the music sound all that much sweeter. If you’re into that kind of thing, you might like to give [Eric Sorensen’s] Denmark amplifier module a look.

The amplifier is intended to be used in a 3-way system, running a subwoofer, woofer, and tweeter. It uses a 1000 W ICEpower module to run the subwoofer, with a pair of 500W ICEpower modules to run the woofer and tweeter respectively. Meanwhile, a MiniDSP 2x4HD is used to accept optical audio input. It also offers digital signal processing and serves as a crossover to split the signal across the three speakers. An STM32F401 is used to run the show, controlling all the various modules and the necessary status LEDs. It’s a feature-rich build, too, with overtemperature monitoring, fan control, and clipping warnings built in.

The whole setup is built on to a sturdy aluminium backplate. The CNC-machined panel has simple tactile buttons for control. There’s also a nifty use of clear PETG 3D printer filament as a light pipe for LEDs. It’s effective, and it looks great. The whole module is designed to slide into the bottom of a 3-way speaker housing like a drawer.

Overall, if you’re building a big set of 3-way speakers, you might find the Denmark amplifier module is perfect for your needs. Alternatively, you could experiment with a different kind of speaker entirely. Video after the break.

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A Homemade Tube Amplifier Featuring Homemade Tubes

With the wealth of cheap and highly integrated audio amplifier modules on the market today, it takes a special dedication to roll your own from parts. Especially when those parts include vacuum tubes, and doubly so when you make the vacuum tubes from scratch too.

Now, we get it — some readers are going to find it hard to invest an hour in watching [jdflyback] make a pair of triodes to build his amplifier. But really, you’ve got to check this out. Making vacuum tubes with all the proper equipment — glassblower’s lathe, various kinds of oxy-fuel torches, all the right hand tools — is hard enough. But when your lathe is a cordless drill, and you’re using a spot welder that looks like it’s cobbled together from junk, your tube-making game gets a lot harder. Given all that, you’d expect the tubes to look a lot rougher than they are, but even with plain tungsten wire heaters and grids made from thick copper wire, they actually work pretty well. Sure, the heaters glow as bright as light bulbs, but that’s all part of the charm.

Speaking of charm, we just love the amp these tubes went into. Built in 1920s breadboard-style, the features some beautiful vintage mica capacitors and wirewound resistors, plus a variable resistor the likes of which we’ve never seen. The one nod to modernity is the clever use of doorbell transformers, one for a choke and one for the speaker transformer. They don’t sound great, but there’s no doubt they work.

We may have seen other homemade vacuum tubes before — we even recently featured a DIY X-ray tube — but there’s something about [jdflyback]’s tubes that really gets us going.

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DIy Arduino FM radio enclosure with the lid off, showing the electronics inside

DIY Arduino Due TEA5767 FM Radio

Older hackers will remember that a crystal set radio receiver was often one of the first projects attempted.  Times have changed, but there’s still something magical about gathering invisible signals from the air and listening to the radio on a homemade receiver. [mircemk] has brought the idea right up to date by building an FM radio with an OLED display, controlled with a rotary encoder.

The design is fairly straightforward, based as it is on another project that [mircemk] found on another site, but the build looks very slick and would take pride of place on any hacker’s workbench. An Arduino Due forms the heart of the project, controlling a TEA5767 module, an SH1106 128×64 pixel OLED display and a rotary encoder. The sound signal is passed through an LM4811 headphone amplifier for private listening, and a PAM8403 Class D audio amplifier for the built-in loudspeaker. The enclosure is made from PVC panels, and accented with colored adhesive tape for style.

It’s easier than ever before to quickly put together projects like this by connecting pre-built modules and downloading code from the Internet, but that doesn’t mean it’s not a worthwhile way to improve your skills and make some useful devices like this one. There are so many resources available to us these days and standing on the shoulders of giants has always been a great way to see farther.

We’ve shown some other radio projects using Arduinos and the TEA5767 IC in the past, such as this one on a tidy custom PCB, and this one built into an old radio case.

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Reactive Load For Amplifiers Teaches Lessons About Inductors

The sound produced by any given electric guitar is shaped not just by the instrument itself but by the amplifiers chosen to make that sound audible. Plenty of musicians swear by the warm sound of amplifiers with vacuum tube circuits, but they do have some limitations. [Collin] wanted to build a reactive load for using tube amps without generating a huge quantity of sound, and it resulted in an interesting project that also taught him a lot about inductors.

The reactive load is essentially a dummy load for the amplifier that replaces a speaker with something that won’t produce sound. Passive loads typically use resistor banks but since this one is active, it needs a very large inductor to handle the amount of current being produced by the amplifier. [Colin] has also built a headphone output into this load which allows it to output a much smaller quantity of sound to a headset while retaining the sound and feel of the amplifier tubes, and it additionally includes a widely-used tone control circuit as well.

There’s a lot going on in the design of the circuitry for this amplifier load, including a lot of research into low-frequency inductors that can handle a significant amount of current. [Collin] eventually ended up winding his own, but the path he took to it was long and winding. There’s a lot of other circuit theory discussed as well especially with regards to the Baxandall EQ that he built into it as well. And, if you’d like to learn more about tube amplifiers in general, take a look at this piece which notes one of the best stereo amps ever produced.

Drastic Plastic: Enclosure Rebuild Uses Donor Material

Although 3D printers are great, people tend to use them as a universal hammer wherein almost everything becomes a nail that’s just begging to be struck. So as hacker appetites become finicky with the same old fare, it’s refreshing to see an enclosure restoration done in such an old-school fashion. To wit: [Doidão Santos]’ classic repair of the crumbling side fairings on a vintage amplifier.

Yes, instead of designing replacement pieces, printing them, and hiding the layered evidence with paint or an acetone blur, [Doidão] called upon a broken sound system whose chassis bore a relief in the corners similar to that of the amplifier.

After cutting out two matched pieces of donated plastic, [Doidão] taped them together and welded ’em with a soldering iron outfitted with a curved-but-flattened spade tip that looks ideal for this purpose. Although the donor enclosure provided much-needed relief, one corner was lacking in this aesthetic, so [Doidão] cast a little bit of molten plastic using the relief as a mold.

Once the pieces were tacked together, [Doidão] filed them down, sanded them, polished them to a nice shine, and installed them on the amplifier. They look great, and no one will be the wiser. But if we were in [Doidão]’s shoes, we’d tell everyone what we’d done. Be sure to check it out after the break.

Ready for more fantastic plastic resto-hacks? Let us introduce you to [drygol].

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Carver M-400 Amplifier Repair Keeps The 1980’s Alive

Carver is a famous name in audio equipment although they have been known to use odd names for things. For example, the 1980’s vintage M-400 magnetic field power amplifier that [JohnAudioTech] is repairing (see the two videos below). That sounds like something off a bad Star Trek remake, but, apparently, we weren’t alone in thinking that, judging by this 1982 review of the unit from a UK magazine.

Still, it is an interesting high-power amplifier and we love seeing gear of this age torn apart. The beast is rated at 201 watts — you have to wonder if the extra watt is another marketing ploy.

There were actually two units and they looked pretty good for four-decade-old boxes. One sounded pretty good outside of some noticeable buzzing. The other had something shorted inside. If you enjoy watching repair videos, you’ll appreciate this two-parter.

We have to admit — and it may be a personal bias — there is something more pleasing about seeing a PCB populated with a bunch of interesting-looking through-hole components. Modern boards with a sea of surface mount parts tend to look a little bland, aesthetically speaking. Of course, when it comes time to make our own boards, we are happy to use SMD and forego all that hole drilling!

We like watching computer repair videos, in particular. Or sometimes, something really exotic.

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Upcycled Practice Amp Build Goes To Eleven

What do you call someone who gives the toddler in your life a musical instrument as a gift? In most cases, “mortal enemy” is the correct answer, but not everyone feels quite so curmudgeonly, and might even attempt to turn up the volume a bit. Such is the case with this wonderfully detailed practice amp for the grandkids’ electric ukelele.

The aptly named [packrat] [Professor Mayhem] really made this build a tour de force of scrap bin sourcing. The amp is built around a module salvaged from an old TV, a stereo Class-D amp that was modified to provide 30 watts output and a volume control. The driver came from a flood-damaged speaker unit, and the power supply from a gutted wall wart. The case was built with scrap plywood and covered with pebble-grain fabric to give it that pro audio look, while the chassis for the electronics was bent from a piece of sheet steel.

But it’s the tiny details that really sell this project. Everything from the pilot light to the pointer knob screams 1970s, as do the painstaking front panel lettering and vinyl “Monkeydyne” logo. [packrat] even went the extra mile to create an etched-brass serial number plate, a mock specs and safety label, and even a QA inspection tag that was (sort of) stapled inside the cabinet.

We tip our hats to [packrat] for this four-month labor of love and obvious nostalgia trip, which the kids are sure to love. [packrat] does admit that some will argue with his decision to use a Class D amp and a switch-mode power supply, but let’s be real — for the application, it’s probably more than sufficient.

Thanks for the tip, [packrat].