Make Your Own Hyperlocal Radio Station
By modifying an FM transmitter for MP3 players
Ever dream of becoming a radio personality? While tinkering with an FM transmitter for MP3 players, engineer Denise Lee realized she could boost its range to turn her music into a radio show. “This is the cheapest form of broadcast technology,” she says. Her build lets you share your NPR voice with neighbors, the college quad, or fellow campers—up to about 100 feet away.
- Time: 30 minutes
- Cost: $15
- Difficulty: Medium
Tools & Materials
- Belkin TuneCast II FM Transmitter
- Soldering iron
- 70 mm of copper wire
- Telescopic antenna
- Electrical tape
- Hot-glue gun
- Wire cutter
- Remove the screw above the transmitter’s battery compartment and gently pry open the seam near the DC input.
- The inductor to the left of the transmitter’s screen is soldered at two points along the edge of the circuit board. Carefully heat the solder to remove and discard the inductor.
- Solder one end of the copper wire to the inductor’s right contact point and the other to the antenna’s base. After the solder cools, cover the connection with electrical tape.
- Glue the antenna into the hole opposite the auxiliary cable. Remove the original antenna (de-solder and trim the blue “ANT” wire on the circuit board) and seal up the transmitter again.
- For more details, check out the photos of the build process below.
This article was originally published in the September/October 2016 issue of Popular Science, under the title “Make Your Own Hyperlocal Radio Station.”