Let’s construct a low-power FM transmitter using surface-mount devices (SMD) that will be received with a standard FM radio. Soldering surface mounted devices is not so hard and actually is quite easy. There are many designs for small FM transmitters but they have some problems. First, you need an audio amplifier to get enough modulation. Second, the antenna is attached directly to the collector. Third, the coil L must be wound by hand and adjusted by stretching. It all ads with a weak signal that tends to drift in frequency. In contrastm the transmitter schematic we present here eliminates some of those problems, using varactor diode for tuning and modulation, givind great sensitivity without an audio amplifier.
FM Transmitter – How it works
The figure below shows the schematic of the transmitter which consists of two stages: an oscillator and an output amplifier. Modulation is from an electret microphone but you can use a low power audio source.
Transistor Q1 is a Colpitts oscillator where the frequency is determined by the parallel resonant circuit formed by inductor L, varactor V1 and capacitors C7 and C8. Q1 is a common-collector amplifier where the power gain counts. V1 is actually a dual varactor that eliminate the possibility of forward conduction at the sinewave peaks.
The frequency of oscillation is set by adjusting the DC voltage on V1 with potentiometer R2. R4 and C3 form a low-pass filter to prevent RF from feeding back onto the DC.
Capacitors C7 and C8 form an AC voltage divider to provide feedback at the emitter of Q1 to sustain oscillation. A necessary condition for oscillation to start is for the radio (C7+C8)/C7 to be sufficiently bigger than 1.
Modulation is done by superimposing an audio signal from the electret mic onto the DC bias applied to V1. R3 and C1 form a low-pass filter to prevent RF from feeding back to the mic. R3, R4 and R2 form a votage divider for the audio.
Transmitter output stage
The output of the oscillator is fed through C9 to the Q2 emitter-follower. The output of Q2 drives the antenna through C11. The Q2 emitter-follower it ensures that the oscillator is not loaded down by the impedance of the antenna and it provides power gain to drive the antenna.
SMD Transmitter layout
The figure below shows the layout of the PCB and it uses surface-mounted devices like resistors and capacitors (non-polar devices). All the caps are size 0805 and all resistors are size 1206. use through-hole components for Q1, Q2, IC1 and V1. You can use an SOT-89 device for IC1 and an SOT-23 device for V1. Use MPSH10 or a transistor equivalent. Here you can learn how to solder smd chips
A coil would consist of two or three turns of wire but for this schematic we will use an inductor with loops of copper on the PCB. Such flat spiral inductor are common at these frequencies.
One formula for flat spiral inductors is:
L = inductance in uH
r = radius of coil (outer radius + inner radius divided by 2 ) inches
N = number of turns
d = depth of coil (outer radius minus inner radius) inches
While commercial FM band goes from about 88 MHz to 108 MHz, the L and C values used in this design allow tuning up to 100 MHz.
You will need a portable FM radio and an assistant. First, find an empty spot on the FM dial and set your radio about 30 feet away (9 meters). The radio’s volume control should not be set too high to prevend feedback. Next, power-up your transmitter and talk to yourself as you adjust the frequency with the trim-pot. When your assintant hears you, your transmitter is tuned. You might have to adjust the radio’s tuner slightly for best reception.
Have fun with it but remember that using the transmitter as a bugging device may not be legal in your country. To use the circuit as a wireless microphone, increase the value of R3. The transmitter range is about 100 feet (30 meters) inside a building.