A couple transmitters have found their way into my hands recently– a nifty AM transmitter with built-in tape player, microphone, and volume control which was a birthday gift; and an FM transmitter that plugs directly into a cigarette lighter area of an automobile, also featuring a USB port for thumb drives, etc..
Naturally, this gets me thinking of all the cool projects I can do with these simple, but well-functioning transmitters. I should mention that these aren’t the first of my transmitters– I have a USB-powered FM device that I can use to send a radio signal from my computer into my kitchen’s radio, as well as another FM device that is often sold to guitarists to plug directly into the 1/4″ jack of an electric guitar. A neat feature of this device (which is no longer sold, I realize, following an extensive online search for it’s photo) is that it has a scalable distortion, as well as an “echo” effect setting. Handy!
One project I am currently working on is creating a loop between various transmitters and radios. Although I have managed to get it to work, the results have been a little less than spectacular so far– but there seems to be real promise that future results will be more interesting. Right now, I can get a really nice low hum going by sending an AM signal to one radio, outputting this signal to the FM transmitter, which is received by the first radio… with it’s output directed into the original AM transmitter. My hope is that I will be able to complicate this a bit with additional signals, and possibly more radios sending and receiving these signals.
The idea of FM becoming AM becoming FM, etc is also really appealing– and it’s fun wondering if a car that happens to be driving by my house has ever picked up on these experiments for a few short moments!
In case you’re interested, both of the transmitters I mentioned in the first paragraph work very well. The AM model has a lot of features that give it tremendous flexibility, including the option for incoming audio from either the built-in microphone or a 1/8″ jack, the ability to mix between both sources simultaneously, some built-in sound effects, a tape player source, universal volume control, a grounding wire, and a substantial antennae. It runs on batteries, which I am content with– AM transmitters will often react unpleasantly with AC power transformers.
The automobile unit is also quite nice. I don’t own an iPod, and I’m generally annoyed at the cassette-adaptor-and-Discman setup that passes for an in-dash CD player in my car. My tape player tends to make a nasty grinding noise, and having all those wires hanging about simply begs for me to accidentally yank something loose, ultimately damaging some component.
The automobile unit has a USB port right on the front, so I can easily attach a thumb drive with mp3s, and play directly from it. It’s got a shuffle mode, volume, and FM channel select (which would be handy in a larger city, I suppose). Additionally, this device also has a 1/16″ input for external audio sources. A super-nice touch was the included 1/16-to-1/8″ male/male audio cable
Most manufacturers would have neglected this, so it is worth mentioning when a company goes the extra mile to include one of these. A neat feature, however unintended, is that the device will actually play from your thumb drive AND an external audio source simultaneously. If one were to use the volume control on a Discman, and also play from a thumb drive, some interesting possibilities for mash-ups and unconscious mixing could easily arise… Anyhow, if you see me driving, tune to 88.7 FM– you might get to hear what I’m listening to!