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Infrared Remote Control Tester

This is a fairly easy circuit that can be used to test TV and VCR remote controls. The infrared detector module (GP1U52X) (Radio Shack 276-137) produces a 5 volt TTL pulse train corresponding to the digital code of the particular remote control key pressed. In the lower circuit, the module output is normally low with no signal received and becomes a positive going pulse train when a signal is present. Other detector modules are available that have an inverted output as shown in the upper drawing which is the type I used, but I don't have the part number, I believe it was removed from a VCR. The pulse sequence represents the digital code of the particular key pressed along with possible manufacturer information. As the pulse train occurs, the 4.7uF capacitor is charged to about 3 volts and the capacitor voltage minus a diode drop appears across the 470 ohm resistor yielding a collector current from the 2N3904 or 2N3906 of about 5 milliamps. The collector current of the first stage flows into the base of the output transistor (MJE34 or 2N3053) which delivers around 250 mA into the indicator lamps. When the pulse train ends, the capacitor slowly discharges through the base of the first stage transistor allowing the Xmas tree lights to remain on for a about 1 second. The little Xmas lamps will operate over a wide voltage range, so you can use bulbs from almost any string, but bulbs from shorter strings (35 or less) will probably last longer operated at 5 volts.

The circuit can be powered from a small 9-12 volt DC, 250 mA or greater wall transformer. It may also need an additional 1000 uF filter capacitor across the DC output if the wall transformer does not have a built in capacitor. For use with a 9 volt battery, the incandescent lamps can be replaced with a regular LED and 680 ohm resistor and the output transistors can be replaced with small signal transistors (2N3904 or 2N3906). The total current drain will be about 25 mA with the LED lit, and 15 mA standby when the LED is off.


Transistor Schmitt Trigger Oscillator

The Schmitt Trigger oscillator below employs 3 transistors, 6 resistors and a capacitor to generate a square waveform. Pulse waveforms can be generated with an additional diode and resistor (R6). Q1 and Q2 are connected with a common emitter resistor (R1) so that the conduction of one transistor causes the other to turn off. Q3 is controlled by Q2 and provides the squarewave output from the collector.

In operation, the timing capacitor charges and discharges through the feedback resistor (Rf) toward the output voltage. When the capacitor voltage rises above the base voltage at Q2, Q1 begins to conduct, causing Q2 and Q3 to turn off, and the output voltage to fall to 0. This in turn produces a lower voltage at the base of Q2 and causes the capacitor to begin discharging toward 0. When the capacitor voltages falls below the base voltage at Q2, Q1 will turn off causing Q2 and Q3 to turn on and the output to rise to near the supply voltage and the capacitor to begin charging and repeating the cycle. The switching levels are established by R2,R4 and R5. When the output is high, the voltage at the base of Q2 is determined by R4 in parallel with R5 and the combination in series with R2. When the output is low, the base voltage is set by R4 in parallel with R2 and the combination in series with R5. This assumes R3 is a small value compared to R2. The switching levels will be about 1/3 and 2/3 of the supply voltage if the three resistors are equal (R2,R4,R5).

There are many different combinations of resistor values that can be used. R3 should low enough to pull the output signal down as far as needed when the circuit is connected to a load. So if the load draws 1mA and the low voltage needed is 0.5 volts, R3 would be 0.5/.001 = 500 ohms (510 standard). When the output is high, Q3 will supply current to the load and also current through R3. If 10 mA is needed for the load and the supply voltage is 12, the transistor current will be 24 mA for R3 plus 10 mA to the load = 34 mA total. Assuming a minimum transistor gain of 20, the collector current for Q2 and base current for Q3 will be 34/20 = 1.7 mA. If the switching levels are 1/3 and 2/3 of the supply (12 volts) then the high level emitter voltage for Q1 and Q2 will be about 7 volts, so the emitter resistor (R1) will be 7/0.0017 = 3.9K standard. A lower value (1 or 2K) would also work and provide a little more base drive to Q3 than needed. The remaining resistors R2, R4, R5 can be about 10 times the value of R1, or something around 39K.

The combination of the capacitor and the feedback resistor (Rf) determines the frequency. If the switching levels are 1/3 and 2/3 of the supply, the half cycle time interval will be about 0.693*Rf*C which is similar to the 555 timer formula. The unit I assembled uses a 56K and 0.1 uF cap for a positive time interval of about 3.5 mS. An additional 22K resistor and diode were used in parallel with the 56K to reduce the negative time interval to about 1 mS.

In the diagram, T1 represents the time at which the capacitor voltage has fallen to the lower trigger potential (4 volts at the base of Q2) and caused Q1 to switch off and Q2 and Q3 to switch on. T2 represents the next event when the capacitor voltage has risen to 8 volts causing Q2 an Q3 to turn off and Q1 to conduct. T3 represents the same condition as T1 where the cycle begins to repeat. Now, if you look close on a scope, you will notice the duty cycle is not exactly 50% This is due to the small base current of Q1 which is supplied by the capacitor. As the capacitor charges, the E/B of Q1 is reverse biased and the base does not draw any current from the capacitor so the charge time is slightly longer than the discharge. This problem can be compensated for with an additional diode and resistor as shown (R6) with the diode turned around the other way.


Battery Equal Charge Indicator

The circuit below illuminates an LED to indicate unequal charges between two 12 volt lead batteries. It can be used to verify that two batteries are connected in parallel or isolated since the LED will be off when the voltages are equal within a tollerance, or on if the voltage difference is greater than 100 millivolts. Three comparators and three voltage dividers are used to determine battery conditions. The upper left comparator (+) input at pin 5 is set to about 10 volts with battery #1 at 12 volts. The negative input (pin 4) is set to a slightly lower voltage by adding an additional 240 ohms to the voltage divider so that the output of the comparator will be positive when both battery voltages are equal and negative if battery 2 rises above battery 1 by 100 millivolts or more. The voltage at pin 5 is used as a reference for the lower comparator and the negative input of the lower comparator is set to a lower voltage with the addition of 510 ohms, so that the output will also be positive when the battery voltages are equal and negative when battery #1 is greater than #2 by 100 millivolts or more. The two comparator outputs are both connected to the positive input of the third comparator at pin 9 so that the LED will illuminate when either condition exists,
(Battery #1 > Battery #2) OR (Battery #2 > Battery #1).


Salt Water Battery

About 13 years ago, I made a salt water battery to operate a single AA battery quartz clock. It ran for several months until I got tired of adding water to compensate for evaporation. The batttery consisted of 5 cells each producing about 300 millivolts. As I remember, I used 5 small olive jars filled with about a cup of water and a tablespoon of salt to create 5 cells in series each producing about 300 millivolts for a total of around 1.5 volts. The positive electrode was made from a strip of double sided copper circuit board (about 1 inch by 4 inch) and the negative electrode was a similar sized strip of aluminum. I recently tried some galvanized iron instead of aluminum and found it produces a little higher voltage so the battery may be made with only 3 cells. But any two different metals used with salt water or citrus juice will create a low voltage battery. You might experiment using silver coins and copper pennies and various fruit juices to come up with a more powerful battery. The diagram below shows the 5 cells connected in series with the galvanized iron of one cell connected to the copper piece of the next. The battery produces a very low current of around 1 milliamp so it's not practical for much other than a quartz clock. You might get a low current LED to light using a few more cells and larger electrodes with greater surface area. You might also add a capacitor across the battery to supply higher current pulses for a flashing LED. It will probably operate the 1.5 volt flashing LED circuits shown on the main menu at a slow flash rate.


Transistor Audio Amp (50 milliwatt)

Here is a little audio amplifier similar to what you might find in a small transistor radio. The input stage is biased so that the supply voltage is divided equally across the two complimentary output transistors which are slightly biased in conduction by the diodes between the bases. A 3.3 ohm resistor is used in series with the emitters of the output transistors to stabilize the bias current so it doesn't change much with temperature or with different transistors and diodes. As the bias current increases, the voltage between the emitter and base decreases, thus reducing the conduction. Input impedance is about 500 ohms and voltage gain is about 5 with an 8 ohm speaker attached. The voltage swing on the speaker is about 2 volts without distorting and power output is in the 50 milliwatt range. A higher supply voltage and the addition of heat sinks to the output transistors would provide more power. Circuit draws about 30 milliamps from a 9 volt supply.


Improved 3 Transistor Audio Amp (80 milliwatt)

This circuit is similar to the one above but uses positive feedback to get a little more amplitude to the speaker. I copied it from a small 5 transistor radio that uses a 25 ohm speaker. In the circuit above, the load resistor for the driver transistor is tied directly to the + supply. This has a disadvantage in that as the output moves positive, the drop across the 470 ohm resistor decreases which reduces the base current to the top NPN transistor. Thus the output cannot move all the way to the + supply because there wouldn't be any voltage across the 470 resistor and no base current to the NPN transistor.

This circuit corrects the problem somewhat and allows a larger voltage swing and probably more output power, but I don't know how much without doing a lot of testing. The output still won't move more than a couple volts using small transistors since the peak current won't be more than 100mA or so into a 25 ohm load. But it's an improvement over the other circuit above.

In this circuit, the 1K load resistor is tied to the speaker so that as the output moves negative, the voltage on the 1K resistor is reduced, which aids in turning off the top NPN transistor. When the output moves positive, the charge on the 470uF capacitor aids in turning on the top NPN transistor.

The original circuit in the radio used a 300 ohm resistor where the 2 diodes are shown but I changed the resistor to 2 diodes so the amp would operate on lower voltages with less distortion. The transistors shown 2n3053 and 2n2905 are just parts I used for the other circuit above and could be smaller types. Most any small transistors can be used, but they should be capable of 100mA or more current. A 2N3904 or 2N3906 are probably a little small, but would work at low volume.

The 2 diodes generate a fairly constant bias voltage as the battery drains and reduces crossover distortion. But you should take care to insure the idle current is around 10 to 20 milliamps with no signal and the output transistors do not get hot under load.

The circuit should work with a regular 8 ohm speaker, but the output power may be somewhat less. To optimize the operation, select a resistor where the 100K is shown to set the output voltage at 1/2 the supply voltage (4.5 volts). This resistor might be anything from 50K to 700K depending on the gain of the transistor used where the 3904 is shown.


Telephone Audio Interface

Audio from a telephone line can be obtained using a transformer and capacitor to isolate the line from external equipment. A non-polarized capacitor is placed in series with the transformer line connection to prevent DC current from flowing in the transformer winding which may prevent the line from returning to the on-hook state. The capacitor should have a voltage rating above the peak ring voltage of 90 volts plus the on-hook voltage of 48 volts, or 138 volts total. This was measured locally and may vary with location, a 400 volt or more rating is recommended. Audio level from the transformer is about 100 millivolts which can be connected to a high impedance amplifier or tape recorder input. The 3 transistor amplifier shown above can also be used. For overvoltage protection, two diodes are connected across the transformer secondary to limit the audio signal to 700 millivolts peak during the ringing signal. The diodes can be most any silicon type (1N400X / 1N4148 / 1N914 or other). The 620 ohm resistor serves to reduce loading of the line if the output is connected to a very low impedance.


LED Photo Sensor.

Here's a circuit that takes advantage of the photo-voltaic voltage of an ordinary LED. The LED voltage is buffered by a junction FET transistor and then applied to the inverting input of an op-amp with a gain of about 20. This produces a change of about 5 volts at the output from darkness to bright light. The 100K potentiometer can be set so that the output is around 7 volts in darkness and falls to about 2 volts in bright light.


Triangle and Squarewave Generator

Here is a simple triangle/squarewave generator using a common 1458 dual op-amp that can be used from very low frequencies to about 10 Khz. The time interval for one half cycle is about R*C and the outputs will supply about 10 milliamps of current. Triangle amplitude can be altered by adjusting the 47K resistor, and waveform offset can be removed by adding a capacitor in series with the output.


Low Frequency Sinewave Generators

The two circuits below illustrate generating low frequency sinewaves by shifting the phase of the signal through an RC network so that oscillation occurs where the total phase shift is 360 degrees. The transistor circuit on the right produces a reasonable sinewave at the collector of the 3904 which is buffered by the JFET to yield a low impedance output. The circuit gain is critical for low distortion and you may need to adjust the 500 ohm resistor to achieve a stable waveform with minimum distortion. The transistor circuit is not recommended for practical applications due to the critical adjustments needed.

The op-amp based phase shift oscillator is much more stable than the single transistor version since the gain can be set higher than needed to sustain oscillation and the output is taken from the RC network which filters out most of the harmonic distortion. The sinewave output from the RC network is buffered and the amplitude restored by the second (top) op-amp which has gain of around 28dB. Frequency is around 600 Hz for RC values shown (7.5K and 0.1uF) and can be reduced by proportionally increasing the network resistors (7.5K). The 7.5K value at pin 2 of the op-amp controls the oscillator circuit gain and is selected so that the output at pin 1 is slightly clipped at the positive and negative peaks. The sinewave output at pin 7 is about 5 volts p-p using a 12 volt supply and appears very clean on a scope since the RC network filters out most all distortion occurring at pin 1.


Touch Activated Light

The circuits below light a 20 watt lamp when the contacts are touched and the skin resistance is about 2 Megs or less. The circuit on the left uses a power MOSFET which turns on when the voltage between the source and gate is around 6 volts. The gate of the MOSFET draws no current so the voltage on the gate will be half the supply voltage or 6 volts when the resistance across the touch contacts is equal to the fixed resistance (2 Megs) between the source and gate.

The circuit on the right uses three bipolar transistors to accomplish the same result with the touch contact referenced to the negative or ground end of the supply. Since the base of a bipolar transistor draws current and the current gain is usually less than 200, three transistors are needed to raise the microamp current level through the touch contacts to a couple amps needed by the light. For additional current, the lamp could be replaced with a 12 volt relay and diode across the coil.


AC Line Current Detector

This circuit will detect AC line currents of about 250 mA or more without making any electrical connections to the line. Current is detected by passing one of the AC lines through an inductive pickup (L1) made with a 1 inch diameter U-bolt wound with 800 turns of #30 - #35 magnet wire. The pickup could be made from other iron type rings or transformer cores that allows enough space to pass one of the AC lines through the center. Only one of the current carrying lines, either the line or the neutral should be put through the center of the pickup to avoid the fields cancelling. I tested the circuit using a 2 wire extension cord which I had separated the twin wires a small distance with an exacto knife to allow the U-bolt to encircle only one wire.

The magnetic pickup (U-bolt) produces about 4 millivolts peak for a AC line current of 250 mA, or AC load of around 30 watts. The signal from the pickup is raised about 200 times at the output of the op-amp pin 1 which is then peak detected by the capacitor and diode connected to pin 1. The second op-amp is used as a comparator which detects a voltage rise greater than the diode drop. The minimum signal needed to cause the comparator stage output to switch positive is around 800 mV peak which corresponds to about a 30 watt load on the AC line. The output 1458 op-amp will only swing within a couple volts of ground so a voltage divider (1K/470) is used to reduce the no-signal voltage to about 0.7 volts. An additional diode is added in series with the transistor base to ensure it turns off when the op-amp voltage is 2 volts. You may get a little bit of relay chatter if the AC load is close to the switching point so a larger load of 50 watts or more is recommended. The sensitivity could be increased by adding more turns to the pickup.


The digital lock shown below uses 4 common logic ICs to allow controlling a relay by entering a 4 digit number on a keypad. The first 4 outputs from the CD4017 decade counter (pins 3,2,4,7) are gated together with 4 digits from a keypad so that as the keys are depressed in the correct order, the counter will advance. As each correct key is pressed, a low level appears at the output of the dual NAND gate producing a high level at the output of the 8 input NAND at pin 13. The momentary high level from pin 13 activates a one shot circuit which applies an approximate 80 millisecond positive going pulse to the clock line (pin 14) of the decade counter which advances it one count on the rising edge. A second monostable, one shot circuit is used to generate an approximate 40 millisecond positive going pulse which is applied to the common point of the keypad so that the appropriate NAND gate will see two logic high levels when the correct key is pressed (one from the counter and the other from the key). The inverted clock pulse (negative going) at pin 12 of the 74C14 and the positive going keypad pulse at pin 6 are gated together using two diodes as an AND gate (shown in lower right corner). The output at the junction of the diodes will be positive in the event a wrong key is pressed and will reset the counter. When a correct key is pressed, outputs will be present from both monostable circuits (clock and keypad) causing the reset line to remain low and allowing the counter to advance. However, since the keypad pulse begins slightly before the clock, a 0.1uF capacitor is connected to the reset line to delay the reset until the inverted clock arrives. The values are not critical and various other timing schemes could be used but the clock signal should be slightly longer than the keypad pulse so that the clock signal can mask out the keypad and avoid resetting the counter in the event the clock pulse ends before the keypad pulse. The fifth output of the counter is on pin 10, so that after four correct key entries have been made, pin 10 will move to a high level and can be used to activate a relay, illuminate an LED, ect. At this point, the lock can be reset simply by pressing any key. The circuit can be extended with additional gates (one more CD4011) to accept up to a 8 digit code. The 4017 counting order is 3 2 4 7 10 1 5 6 9 11 so that the first 8 outputs are connected to the NAND gates and pin 9 would be used to drive the relay or light. The 4 additional NAND gate outputs would connect to the 4 remaining inputs of the CD4068 (pins 9,10,11,12). The circuit will operate from 3 to 12 volts on 4000 series CMOS but only 6 volts or less if 74HC parts are used. The circuit draws very little current (about 165 microamps) so it could be powered for several months on 4 AA batteries assuming only intermittent use of the relay.


Decibel Meter

The circuit below responds to sound pressure levels from about 60 to 70 dB. The sound is picked up by an 8 ohm speaker, amplified by a transistor stage and one LM324 op-amp section. You can also use a dynamic microphone but I found the speaker was more sensitive. The remaining 3 sections of the LM324 quad op-amp are used as voltage comparators and drive 3 indicator LEDs or incandescents which are spaced about 3dB apart. An additional transistor is needed for incandescent lights as shown with the lower lamp. I used 12 volt, 50mA lamps. Each light represents about a 3dB change in sound level so that when all 3 lights are on, the sound level is about 4 times greater than the level needed to light one lamp. The sensitivity can be adjusted with the 500K pot so that one lamp comes on with a reference sound level. The other two lamps will then indicate about a 2X and 4X increase in volume.

In operation, with no input, the DC voltage at pins 1,2 and 3 of the op-amp will be about 4 volts, and the voltage on the (+) inputs to the 3 comparators (pins 5,10,12) will be about a half volt less due to the 1N914 diode drop. The voltage on the (-) comparator inputs will be around 5.1 and 6.5 which is set by the 560 and 750 ohm resistors.

When an audio signal is present, the 10uF capacitor connected to the diode will charge toward the peak audio level at the op-amp output at pin 1. As the volume increases, the DC voltage on the capacitor and also (+) comparator inputs will increase and the lamp will turn on when the (+) input goes above the (-) input. As the volume decreases, the capacitor discharges through the parallel 100K resistor and the lamps go out. You can change the response time with a larger or smaller capacitor.

This circuit requires a well filtered power source, it will respond to very small changes in supply voltage, so you probably will need a large filter capacitor connected directly to the 330 ohm resistor. I managed to get it to work with an unregulated wall transformer power source, but I had to use 4700uF. It worked well on a regulated supply with only 1000uF.


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