Tag Archives: Home Brew

Guest Post: Joris’ home brew Si4835-based receiver

Many thanks to Joris van Scheindelen (PE1KTH)–an SWLing Post contributor from the Netherlands–for the following guest post:

High Tech AM-FM DSP Receiver From
AM FM ontvanger P3060601

The old mode AM is still an interesting mode for amateur radio communication, also in amplitude CW.

Building your receiver is not difficult and quite fun. The semiconductor industry makes interesting integrated receiver chips today that will be useful for an AM receiver. Not only for broadcast reception but also for amateur AM reception or as part of an AM transceiver.

Silicon Labs also makes Si4734/35 receivers; these need a CPU to control the receiver, but are of interest for amateur use because the frequency can be tuned in 1 KHz steps and the audio channel bandwidth in 7 steps. There is no need for the transmitter to be on the receiving channel…

Si4835 AM-FM receiver

Looking for a small SW broadcast receiver design, and pocket size, I came to the excellent range of modern DSP receivers in a single chip from Slicon Labs.

I made a test bed set up has been made for the Si4835 AM-FM receiver.

The target specification was:

  • minimal components,
  • no micro-controller,
  • low power,
  • backlash free mechanical tuning,
  • good sensitivity,
  • earphone,
  • robust housing,
  • a short and small antenna system for outdoor use,
  • and minimal controls.

The Si4835 makes miniature design possible on a PCB (see photo Figure 1).

The red Dip (band) switch was replaced by a rotary switch in the final receiver design (Figure 4).

The receiver power is minimal 2 x 1.2 = 2.4 volts or a one cell LI-ION accu.
5 volts is the maximum for the Si4835 chip; current consumption is 30 mA.

Fig 1. Testbed setup for the Si4835.

Fig 1. Testbed setup for the Si4835.

The receiver has an RF pre-amplifier transistor and the LF amplifier is the TDA7050T.
All receiver functions are in the chip; the schematic is very simple and can be built with minimal components (see schematic appnote AN555 Fig 2. below).

Only an LF amplifier has to be added to complete the receiver.


Fig 2. Receiver schematic Si4835 in the AN555 application note.

The Si4835 receiver has the following frequency bands–they are divided in sub bands 800 or 900 KHz wide (See Figure 3). The frequency step tuning is 10 kHz on AM, following the international broadcast raster standard.

Fig 3. Si4835 receiver sub bands.

Fig 3. Si4835 receiver sub bands.

This means there are 80 or 90 receive channels in the sub bands and make finding the BC stations on the scale more easy. The 10 KHz scale steps are linear. The frequency stability is locked to the 32 kHz X-tal via the synthesizer so there is no frequency drift. The AM LF audio channel is 5 kHz wide set by the DSP filter. Volume control can be done width 2 up-down push switches or by a LF potentiometer..

Fig 4. The experimental pocket aluminium receiver housing on PCB2.

Fig 4. The experimental pocket aluminium receiver housing on PCB2.

Receiving results

I have been testing many hours and I am surprised about this little receiver.

The receiving results are excellent on FM and AM and signals of 2 -3 uV are well received.

Also the audio quality is good–especially on FM. As can be seen in the frequency table the 40 and 20 meter band are in the range. Clear AM phone amateur transmission has been received when the transmitter was tuned on the 10 kHz raster in 40 meter band on AM.

Also AM modulated CW signals can be received bud not un-modulated carrier CW–they sound “plop…plop”.

The 5 kHz wide LF channel is a bid too wide so many CW signals pass through the audio at the time, but if AM modulated that should not be a serious problem.

The broadcast stations in the SW bands (when the daytime conditions are good) up to 20 MHz are good and strong.


The Si4835 receiver can be a fine broadcast receiver for outdoor work and if an AM transmitter is tuned in the 10 kHz raster this receiver can also used for amateur phone reception.

Addendum: The Si4734/35 is a better amateur AM Receiver

The Si4734 and Si4735 are a better receiver choice for amateur AM purpose because the frequency tuning can be done in 1 kHz steps. Also the BW of the LF channel can be adjusted to 1 kHz wide.

In Fig 5. from the programming APP note you see the code 0X3102 AM CHANNEL_FILTER it is possible to adjust the audio width by sending this code to the Si4734/35.

Fig 5. From the programming APP note

Fig 5. From the programming APP note

The LF bandwidth can be set on 1, 1.8, 2.5, 2, 3, 4 and 6 kHz wide.

This is excellent for modulated CW and AM phone discrimination in the audio channel.

The disadvantage is the need of an CPU and LCD display, “away from a minimalistic design”.

See also the note 1 and 2 improved 100 Hz rejection. See data sheet of the Si4734/35.

It look like that this receiver is a good receiver for building a modern AM-(AM)CW receiver or in a transceiver application. Tuning can be done digitally.

Think about this receiver [and the Si4835 chipset] when you intent to build a high tech AM – T/RX.

73 ‘ Joris van Scheindelen PE1KTH

What a fantastic home-brew receiver, Joris! I love the simple design of your receiver and the fact that it’s quite portable.  Thanks so much for sharing your notes and documentation.

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Dave unveils the Sproutie MK II regenerative receiver


My talented pal, Dave Richards, has built yet another home-brew regenerative receiver––which he dubs the Sproutie MK II––and wow, it’s a thing of beauty.

Dave tells me has been working on this receiver for many months, and upon viewing the following photos of it, it’s clear to see why he took his sweet time. As in his original Sproutie, a vintage HRO dial has taken pride of place as the centerpiece of his rig; it looks stunning.

But the Sproutie MK II is not only painstakingly-crafted on the outside; like Shaker furnishings, wrought for the eyes of God both outwardly and within, the interior of Dave’s receiver is equally well-crafted.

Okay, maybe that’s a little over the top…but if you doubt me, just join me in admiration of this board:


As for performance?  Of course, with such a clean interior, the Sproutie II performs like a champ.  Dave posted a few videos showing how his new receiver commands the airwaves and aptly handles AM, SSB, and CW.

That’s an amazing piece of kit you’ve created there, Dave!  Hats off to your incredible craftsmanship.

Check out Sproutie II on Dave’s blog, where you can read a full account of how he designed and built this gorgeous regen receiver.

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Dr. Phil’s radio articles: portable SDR and pocket DX

RTL-SDR-001SWLing Post reader, Dr. Phil, recently contacted me regarding a collection of articles he’s written about DXing and radio modifications.

His site actually has a number of useful articles that I’ll plan to convert to future posts, with his permission.

Sony ICF-S10MKIII asked Dr. Phil for links to two of his most popular publications. He replied:

My two big recent articles are shown below. One is about “Pocket Radio DX”: using under-$20 radios to DX (started in 2003). Click here to download as a PDF.

The other is about using an $18 NooElec TV-tuner as a MW and shortwave receiver. Click here to download as a PDF.

Brilliant! Thanks so much for sharing these, Dr. Phil!

I actually have a  Sony ICF-S10MK2, which I consider to be a capable and useful little AM/FM receiver for the sub $20 price. I’ve also been very tempted to purchase an RTL-SDR dongle, so I may go ahead and bite the bullet on one of the NooElec SDR dongles.

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A three transistor homebrew shortwave radio

(Photo source: netZener.net)

(Photo source: Instructables)

SWLing Post contributor, Richard Langley, writes:

Came across this site on building a 3-transistor shortwave radio similar to the kit offered by Radio Shack years ago:


It was featured on the Instructables site:


Very cool!  Thanks for sharing this, Richard.

When I have a little time, I’ll go through my parts box and see how many of these components I already have. The author also supplies an excellent assembly manual for download and print. It would be fantastic if someone would kit up the parts list and offer it as a package. Regardless, this will make for a fun winter project!

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Video: Dave’s “Sproutie” home-brew regenerative receiver in action!


My good buddy, Dave Richards (AA7EE), has just posted videos of his home-brew regenerative receiver–nicknamed “The Sproutie.” [You may recall an earlier post about this very receiver.]

Below, you’ll find a video where Dave tunes in broadcasters with The Sproutie–she certainly has ears!

Dave, that’s a simple, beautiful little radio you’ve built there.  I love the HRO knob–form and function at its best.

Readers: be sure to check out Dave’s full post about the Sproutie along with another video. If you haven’t yet, bookmark Dave’s blog–it’s a good one!

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How shortwaves keep you young…

Remember our recent posts about Dave Richard’s homebrew regenerative receiver?

If so, you can imagine the laugh I had yesterday when I viewed this latest creation by the infamous Jeff Murray (K1NSS):


“Short Wave & Prosper”–? I have to agree!  And I’m completely in tune with Jeff’s sense of humor. If you are, too, be sure to bookmark Dashtoons for more radio fun and whimsy. (Better yet, get Jeff to design your own QSL card!)

As for Dave, follow his blog for the latest on his many homebrew activities (that continue even when his pets are interfering).

Major thanks to Dave for the brilliant write-up about Ears to Our World’s HumanaLight kit. [Want one? Get yours now at Universal Radio, and support ETOW’s mission.]

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Dave’s late night listening session


My good buddy, Dave Richards (AA7EE), recently shared this message with his friends, many of whom do not know a lot about shortwave radio (yet):

“I’m waking up very slowly this morning – was up until 4:30am listening to the 49 meter shortwave band on a new receiver I’m building, dubbed “The Sproutie Regen” after my cat Sprout. “Regen” is short for regenerative, which refers to the type of circuit used in this receiver – it was developed by Howard Armstrong in 1915 and is 100 year-old old technology. Most of the parts are fairly new, with the exception of the tuning dial, which was made by a company from Massachusetts, called “National” – it’s probably around 50 – 70 years old, and the tuning capacitor, which is around 50 years old but had never been used. It was “new” in it’s box.


It’s not finished yet – will look a bit more spiffy when it’s done, but these are what its bones look like. 49M was fascinating last night. I heard an American propaganda station broadcasting to North Korea (The Voice Of Hope), and being jammed by the DPRK, an American propaganda station broadcasting to Cuba (Radio Marti), a very low power broadcaster from Canada, as well as Radio Habana Cuba, Radio Australia broadcast in Pidgin, Radio China International, as well as the Chinese domestic radio service (which Mao Tse Tung wanted all citizens to listen to), and a host of other broadcasters from all over. It was a fascinating cornucopia of signals from our very diverse world – and all on a receiver I built myself using 100 year-old technology.

I had trouble sitting in front of the desk because Jingles the blind kitty had curled up on the circular cushion on the chair and was happily sleeping. I somehow managed to squeeze myself in next to her and she is still napping here on the cushion next to me.

JinglesThe BlindKittie

Dave’s cat, Jingles, in his shack.

I love these late night sessions. It’s just me, a cup of coffee, a shortwave receiver to listen to far-off lands, and a lovely little furry creature slumbering next to me. Perfect. As some people in this part of the San Francisco Bay Area might say, ‘my natural vibrations are perfectly aligned with the planets and receiving much abundance.’

As for me, I’m just having a good time, thank you.”

Like it, too?  Follow Dave, Jingles, Sprout, and all of his homebrew adventures via his excellent radio blog.

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