31 March, 2015

Low power longwave transmitter experiment

Many places in the world, low power transmitters in the medium wave band are allowed. I am talking about regulations like in the US where FCC part 15 allows up to 100 mW input.

In Norway we have a particular permission for members of the Norwegian Radio Historic Society to transmit up to 500 mW on 216 kHz in the longwave band. I'm not sure if this is output or input power [it's output power]. The permission is meant to cover a personal collection of historic radios. The frequency is the one used by the main transmitter north of Oslo from 1954-1995 running 200 kW. The frequency is still allocated to Norway, so I guess that is why we may use it this way.

I grew up close to this transmitter and have fond memories of my first homemade crystal set receiving this station.

There are several low power transmitters around that can be purchased, but most of them only cover the medium wave band and not longwave (153-279 kHz). Further they are quite complicated as the frequency necessarily has to be user settable.

I looked for a simpler way to make a single-frequency transmitter and found that the function generator chip XR-2206 which I happened to have in my junk box could both generate this frequency and do the amplitude modulation. The RC-oscillator seems to be stable enough for this low frequency although I haven't tested this much.

Here are the first results with images of the circuit on a Veroboard and the oscilloscope picture of the modulation with my Tandberg TP41 70's radio on top of it listening to Dire Straits from Spotify streaming over longwave.

The circuit has very little output power, lacks antenna tuning and harmonic filtering, so there is room for improvement, but at least it works.

Too bad that the XR-2206 is obsolete and not recommended for new development!