Author Topic: Fly swatter ham radio transmitter  (Read 9840 times)

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Offline joeqsmithTopic starter

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Fly swatter ham radio transmitter
« on: December 03, 2023, 03:23:26 am »
Simple spark gap transmitter tuned to the 80M ham band.  Pic 1 showing no secondary and antenna attached to the primary.   Pic 3 showing with secondary attached. 

A bit flipped than what is normally shown with the spark gap across the fly swatter rather than in series with it. 
 
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Offline RoGeorge

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Re: Fly swatter ham radio transmitter
« Reply #1 on: December 03, 2023, 07:07:54 am »
I've read that spark-gap transmitters were eventually banned, mostly because of their broad spurious spectrum, though until now never seen a plot of that, thanks!
« Last Edit: December 03, 2023, 07:40:40 pm by RoGeorge »
 

Offline joeqsmithTopic starter

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Re: Fly swatter ham radio transmitter
« Reply #2 on: December 03, 2023, 05:34:36 pm »
I did not see any spectral data as well which I also thought would be interesting to demonstrate.   Following video showing it operating after wound for the 160 Meter band.   

Not having any sort of radio license, I'm sure a few hams will be upset and turn me into the FCC for transmitting in their bands.   :-DD :-DD


Offline joeqsmithTopic starter

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Re: Fly swatter ham radio transmitter
« Reply #3 on: December 05, 2023, 06:50:04 pm »
Using my old Drake TR-4 radio to listen to the fly swatter spark gap transmitter.   


Offline joeqsmithTopic starter

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Re: Fly swatter ham radio transmitter
« Reply #4 on: December 09, 2023, 08:55:14 pm »
Using a signal generator and car ignition coil as a source to simulate the sound of a rotary spark system.  I use the both CW and AM modes of the Drake to compare the sound.   


 
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Offline joeqsmithTopic starter

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Re: Fly swatter ham radio transmitter
« Reply #5 on: December 19, 2023, 01:45:56 am »
A viewer had asked to see what the signal looks like with a scope.   The voltage across the output capacitor isn't something I would want to probe directly, but here it is with the fly swatter attached and using a standard 10X probe with the ground strap attached to the tip for a pickup.

36 is a zoomed out view of a single breakdown of the sparkgap showing the decay of the tank.

37 is zoomed into the decaying area. 

Offline joeqsmithTopic starter

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Re: Fly swatter ham radio transmitter
« Reply #6 on: December 19, 2023, 02:21:06 am »
This is with it tuned to the high side (4.8MHz).   The goal wasn't to have a real high frequency but rather something I could pickup with my old Drake radio and something I could make from junk I had laying around.    That radio will work up to the 15 meter band so it's certainly possible to build something that would work at a higher frequency. 

Offline joeqsmithTopic starter

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Re: Fly swatter ham radio transmitter
« Reply #7 on: December 27, 2023, 01:29:53 am »
A higher frequency spark gap setup for the 15 - 10meter bands.    Tuned for roughly 28.5MHz.  As a sanity check, cursors are 4 cycles apart or 4X6.85 or 27.4MHz.   

Using a new set of AAAs in the fly swatter, the pulse period is roughly 1.37ms or about 730Hz.   I was able to increase this to 4.52kHz by running the fly swatter from the bench supply and increasing the voltage, until the transistor fried.   

No doubt it could be cycled much faster with a better supply.     
 
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Offline joeqsmithTopic starter

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Re: Fly swatter ham radio transmitter
« Reply #8 on: December 27, 2023, 02:18:10 am »
This transmitter can be tuned down to about 15MHz or so.  Shown tuned for the 15 meter band.  Now running from my ESD gun's DC supply with a 10Meg source.  The ESD gun's supply with this combination gives up with a pulse frequency of about 9.43kHz.   

This comes from a viewer asking about rotary spark gaps.  Consider a motor driving say 8 spark gaps.  9.43kHz / 8 = 1178 rotations per second.  Or 71,000 RPM to achieve  what is shown using minimal effort and no mechanical switching.   

The rotary spark would certainly look a lot more impressive but loud sounds and lots of big sparks has not been a goal. 

Offline joeqsmithTopic starter

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Re: Fly swatter ham radio transmitter
« Reply #9 on: December 27, 2023, 03:41:09 am »
14.05MHz is the lower limit.   It's a pretty wide span for that trimmer cap.  Output is reasonably clean.   

Offline joeqsmithTopic starter

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Re: Fly swatter ham radio transmitter
« Reply #10 on: December 27, 2023, 05:29:09 am »
Phase noise is about as bad as the first transmitter.  Showing the 1-4 harmonics as well.   

Offline joeqsmithTopic starter

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Re: Fly swatter ham radio transmitter
« Reply #11 on: December 28, 2023, 12:08:25 am »
Rather than using the toroid,  added a winding.  No real attempt to optimize it.  Note use of the cheap 40dB attenuator to the SA (which has another 10dB attenuator).  Shown tuned for 22MHz.  Harmonics are shown out to 10.  The first harmonic is high and it could use an additional filter.   The spark occurs at a bit over 13kHz running from DC with the 10M source.   


Offline joeqsmithTopic starter

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Re: Fly swatter ham radio transmitter
« Reply #12 on: December 28, 2023, 05:22:42 am »
The following quotes were taken from this site on spark gap transmitters:
http://w2pa.net/HRH/spark-radio/

Data was taken using a 10x scope probe attached to one of my 50 ohm thru terminators without any attenuation.   Note that a MHV connector was added to supply the power.

Quote
The radio regulations at the time of spark’s heyday, specified in the 1912 law, dictated that no transmission must have a decrement larger than 0.2, which corresponds to a decrease of 18% per RF cycle.2 With 0.2 decrement, each pulse or wave train lasts for 24 cycles. Anything shorter (that is, any decrement larger than 0.2) would exhibit “undesirable tuning qualities,” and 0.2 decrement was defined as the boundary between broad and sharp tuning3—zero decrement (CW) being the sharpest possible.

LeCroy61:  Transmitter was tuned for 20.0MHz, or a period of 50ns.  While the signal is still decaying beyond to 10us captured with the scope, ignore that.   10us / 50ns or 200 cycles. 

Quote
High power (approximately 500 kW) versions used by commercial stations might typically use a disk with 20 to 30 electrodes contained within an enclosure to muffle the loud screeching noise it made when operating.

I didn't see any photos of what such a system would look like. 

LeCroy55:  The arc cycle time with the latest hardware is about 19kHz or 53us.  The output signal is pretty much dampened out by 10us. 

Using the 30 electrode commercial rotary gap claimed we can calculate the required RPM as 19,000 /30 pulses per rev, or 633 revs per sec.  X 60 = 38,000 RPM.   

Rather than 500kW I doubt I am making 500uW average.   

Offline joeqsmithTopic starter

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Re: Fly swatter ham radio transmitter
« Reply #13 on: December 28, 2023, 09:49:58 pm »
Attempt to increase the arc cycle time, I went from DC back to AC.  The 10Meg source was removed.  Working with higher voltages, the trimmer cap was replaced with a part that has wider plate spacing.   I tried one of those Chinese HV transformers, hoping I could drive it faster but no luck.  The car ignition coil seems to work up to around 40kHz.  Notice that when running it this fast, there appears to be some secondary arc. 

Showing noise from 1 to 500MHz.  Not sure of the source at 44.5MHz.  Others are TV/radio....   

I was reminded about the craptastic USB bus as during these experiments, my mouse crapped out.  USB is fine for consumer use, but a poor choice if you work with any sort of noise sources.

Offline joeqsmithTopic starter

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Re: Fly swatter ham radio transmitter
« Reply #14 on: December 28, 2023, 10:11:20 pm »
Another historical post off that site talking about the era when transitioning to CW.

http://w2pa.net/HRH/spark-to-cw/

Found the book he references from Elmer Bucher, 1917, Practical Wireless Telegraphy.  I've been thumbing through it.  Interesting to see some of the original early pre-tube era radios. 

https://ia600201.us.archive.org/33/items/practicalwire00buchrich/practicalwire00buchrich.pdf

Offline joeqsmithTopic starter

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Re: Fly swatter ham radio transmitter
« Reply #15 on: December 28, 2023, 10:43:36 pm »
Shown with a white LED attached to the output.   Maybe 100mW with the car coil and 1kHz arc.   

Offline joeqsmithTopic starter

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Re: Fly swatter ham radio transmitter
« Reply #16 on: December 29, 2023, 12:00:50 am »
Output power is limited by the tuning capacitor. 
 
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Offline joeqsmithTopic starter

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Re: Fly swatter ham radio transmitter
« Reply #17 on: January 12, 2024, 03:03:09 pm »
Showing the latest transmitter.  The small tuning capacitor was replaced with a part that has wider spacing to handle the higher voltage levels.

Offline joeqsmithTopic starter

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Re: Fly swatter ham radio transmitter
« Reply #18 on: January 12, 2024, 03:11:08 pm »
Also, I had found this forum which had a similar discussion.  The OP posted a few photos of their transmitter.  It looks very fancy compared with my cardboard tubes and hot glue.  My goal isn't to make a historically accurate transmitter.  I'm just having a little fun with high voltage and RF.   

https://antiqueradios.com/forums/viewtopic.php?f=12&t=433567

Offline joeqsmithTopic starter

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Re: Fly swatter ham radio transmitter
« Reply #19 on: January 13, 2024, 02:07:09 am »
baseline_SA_terminated
Showing the baseline noise with my spectrum analyzer terminated to 50 ohms.   

backgroundnoise_12inch
Showing the background noise with a 12" rod attached to the SA.  At this point, nothing with the transmitter is turned on.  I suspect the 10MHz is the GPS clock driver board as it is not shielded.   

Transmit_NoAntenna
Powering up the transmitter with no antenna.  The coils do radiate but the SA is far enough away (5 feet or so) that it doesn't pick it up much of a signal.

Transmit_40mDiapole
Attaching the transmitter to a 40 meter diapole.  The diapole is 40 feet or so away from the SA's antenna.   Maybe my neighbor could pick it up if they had a shortwave radio.  Another perspective on the emissions from this testing, driving to work I pass several power line poles that radiate enough broadband noise, they knock out the local stations.     

It's interesting to see these two signals side-by-side.  It really puts into perspective why these transmitters were banned. 

Offline joeqsmithTopic starter

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Re: Fly swatter ham radio transmitter
« Reply #20 on: January 24, 2024, 03:38:41 pm »
Hackaday ran an article on my experiments. 

https://hackaday.com/2023/12/11/modern-spark-gap-transmitter-uses-a-rotary-gap/

Comments are pretty typical for the hams.  This one actually has a clue: 

Quote
Twisty Plastic says:
December 12, 2023 at 7:45 am
...
OTOH I also think the FCC has failed (probably other country’s organizations too but I don’t know them). They have allowed cheap electronics, especially cheaply made lighting to emit all sorts of interference and be mass marketed anyway.

I have some high intensity LED bulbs that when combined with the house wiring for an antenna structure, splatter from kHz to 10's of MHz.   I ran some tests on them and posted the data here back when I bought them.    As long as the FCC allows importing this crap, I am not going to get too excited about the narrow band, lower power my spark gap experiments produce.   May be fun to see which one will radiate further.   Guessing my light bulbs.
 
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Offline RoGeorge

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Re: Fly swatter ham radio transmitter
« Reply #21 on: January 25, 2024, 07:46:37 am »
Hackaday ran an article on my experiments. 

Congrats!  :-+
 
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Offline joeqsmithTopic starter

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Re: Fly swatter ham radio transmitter
« Reply #22 on: January 28, 2024, 04:10:14 pm »
That's the third article they have written on my EE antics that I am aware of.   They ran one on the DMM testing and that breadboard oscillator contest we had here. 

Last night I ran a simple test using the latest transmitter with my calibrated clip lead for an antenna.  I had it tuned for around 20MHz and went for a walk.  I made it all the way to the front of my neighbor's house before I could no longer detect it. 

Maybe I can modulate the some of the bad LED bulbs and see how far these will radiate with the house wiring.  Shown was some data I took back in 2012 looking at the noise up to 1GHz.  Baseline shows the local radio stations.   The bulb basically wipes out all AM, FM and TV broadcast.   FCC allows them to import this garbage.   

I think that one power line transformer I pass on the way to work, which is in a more residential area, will knock out my FM radio  for a few blocks. 

Offline joeqsmithTopic starter

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Re: Fly swatter ham radio transmitter
« Reply #23 on: March 27, 2024, 05:30:17 am »
New coil less the hot glue. 

Offline joeqsmithTopic starter

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Re: Fly swatter ham radio transmitter
« Reply #24 on: March 29, 2024, 03:51:29 am »
S11 of primary with tuning and output terminated.   Time to hunt down a high voltage variable capacitor.   

Someone had posted about an AM transmitter in the beginners section and while I was looking at my Radio Shack 160 in 1 child's kit, I noticed it had a spark gap transmitter. 


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