Arduino FM Radio Receiver Shield





Introduction: Arduino FM Radio Receiver Shield

This Instructable will show you how to build your own FM radio receiver shield to be used with an Arduino board. The radio chip we are going to be using is the AR1010 on a breakoutboard found at Sparkfun or Electrokit and there will be code to get you up and running provided later on. We are going to use an laser cutter for the shield fabrication. 

Step 1: Eagle 1

First we build up our circuit using eagle. There are many Instructables out there on how to do it such as this or this. You can download my eagle files I have been using when building this board below. Things to consider is that when you are going to be using the laser cutter for doing pcbs you have to remeber that it is one sided pcbs that is be far easiest and also that the traces has to be 15 mil or wider otherwise the laser and etching process might etch them away. 

Step 2: Eagle 2 Layout

Once you have your layout done it is time  to export it to a more laser friendly format. The first picture below is the finished pcb layout and the second is the schematic of the circuit. To get the nice monochrome laser friendly picture (pic 3 below) you have to export it from eagle as png. 

Step 3: Eagle 3 Export

1.  Select the layers that you are interest in laser cutting. I tend to only select the top layer and the pads  since there resides nearly always all the necessary information. 
2. Open the export menu
3. Select that it is an Image that u want to export
4. Select where you want to save it also remember to save it as an monochrome image for the laser to be happy. 
5. Enjoy the finished png. 

Step 4: Spraypaint

Next thing to do is to prepare the copper pcb. This can be found in many sizes and the one I have hear is 160x100x1,6 mm and is pretty standard her in Sweden. 

1/ Clean the copper from any residues, fingerprints, jelly or whatever has landed on them.
2/ Spraypaint the copper with two layers of paint as evenly as possible
3/ Let it dry

Step 5: Laser

Put the exported file into your favorite laser program, in this case Illustrator, and make sure that the size is correct and everything is looking fine. After that it is time to send it to the laser. The settings I use to etch the spraypaint away is the Marble setting on my Epilog 40 w laser. This will change depending on your laser type. 

Step 6: Etching

To etch the copper away you use acid that will eat the copper but leave it where there is paint. Create the correct mix with water and acid depending on your supplier. Mine was 0,7 dl  acid and 5 dl water. 

Step 7: Soldering

When I do Arduino shields I tend to like to put the headers first in an empty Arduino and then the shield on top of that. This aligns them nicely and makes the soldering so much easier. In this step it is just to solder all the components after the pins is in. Remember to align the AR1010 correctly. 

Step 8:

Upload this code from zeropointo found on Sparkfuns forum and it should start playing directly. The commands to control the Radio over serial is

u = volume up
d = volume down
n = sudo seek next
p = sudo seek prev
+ = station increment +2, wrap, filter
- = station deincrement -2, wrap, filter
[ = station increment no wrap, no wrap, no filter
] = station deincrement no wrap, no filter

To set the station by frequency type the freq followed by #.





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    22 Discussions

    the reception is too poor. what should i do?

    Nicely done! Keep it up.

    I have also made this 
    Simle Fm radio with easy to find parts;

    Does the arduino make you unable to build a computer? Does it keep bill gates a billionaire and chip monopoly master?

    so, how do you control the radio without having a computer attached to it? Seems like you could whack this together on a piece of perfboard without all the etching and messing about with Eagle files. Wouldn't be as pretty, but it would still work. Nice instructable, just the same. Thanks for posting, gives me ideas for future projects. DaveL

    4 replies

    well its may be easier but us guys who like o invent tend to make things look nice and not always take the easy "perfboard" way!

    exactly as UziMonkey is sayig below this is only to show the functions on how to create the shield. Of course you would control it from a button or a slider or anything similar and that is what Im going to do in the future also. This is a small part of my thesis where Im trying to document every step I take both for myself and to give back to the community.

    It would be trivial to add a few buttons to control the radio. There are a lot of free IO pins on the Arduino. You can either make this into a true "shield" and stack another button shield on top, or make your own shield with both buttons and the radio.

    You could add tuning controls to this and stuff it into certain casings, like an old NES cartridge, and listen with that.

    *blink blink* Oh, ok, I get it. "Shield" is a term for Arduino gadgets, it doesn't shield you FROM FM. *Forehead smack* Duh. It's a nice Instructable...if someone has access to a 40w spray-paint etching laser table. There's a half-dozen ways to mask a PCB from that pretty picture (especially if the b/w are inverted) without using a laser to etch the paint, a technique that, while incredibly accurate, you must admit is a little bit out of pocket for most hobbyists. Seriously, I'd love one of those. I wonder if you can cobble one out of a TEA laser? I'd rather use something like Techniks press-n-peel, and simply iron on the PCB traces, then etch. After all, the Instructable is supposedly on how to make a radio from an Arduino, not "How to use a laser to etch a PCB". The instructions on the actual making the radio part seemed almost anticlimax..."now that you've finished these 6 detailed steps on laser-etching your board, solder the parts on, upload this program, and there it is." Bwuh? But maybe all this is just me. If you've got a laser, use it. And maybe no one else thought it shielded you from FM radio, not even for a second.

    4 replies

    thats easy first you need to build it , find an old dvd player the laser they use will help you in your etchins , cource all mine just turn out in circals so far but im still learning how to use it. oh an i forgot to mention the glass magnifier lens , mines a bit old school as all i had on hand was one out of an anteak camcorder think its like 78mil zoom , i dont sugest trying at home thou as now i can watch the stars at night threw my new skylight , wich ive to go back up an add more serrandwrap to catch you latter home all goes better ;O)

    A DVD laser is NOWHERE NEAR 40 watts. You might find a 200 milliwatt laser in a DVD burner. A Blu-Ray diode might give you 125-300mw. Maybe. You can get up to a 1W laser diode from laser light shows or projectors, and some sites actually sell harvested diodes of this type. (I know, I have one on its way for a different project.) But a 40 watt laser is most likely a CO2 gas laser used for CNC cutting or milling, not something you can cobble up from salvaged DVD sleds. You MIGHT find one used on eBay for a few thousand bucks, but again, it's a few thousand bucks, and they're not as easy to feed and maintain. That's why I was wondering if a TEA laser might be applicable to this use. It's a transversely excited laser using a high-voltage discharge across an air or nitrogen gap to create a pulsed ultraviolet laser. I don't know how much actual power one has, but it might be worth a try. Properly focused, it might do something. And for one of those, you'd put the work piece on your XY table, not the laser head...and it'd be a YZ wall at that point, not an XY table, I guess...digression, digression, digression... As for the "shield" just took me a minute. After all, there have been BASIC "Stamps" for a long time, little boards with chips on them you program with an abbreviated form of BASIC. The "Shield" nickname is a version of the same thing...calling the prototype board that bears an Arduino a "Shield" like calling the little board with that other chip on it a "Stamp". I just didn't remember the term right away.

    mine for the mos part was a jokeinly put fasion i find usen the oldfastion buck knive to cut just fine , but thats only if im up in the mountains an need to pull off a megiver move

    No, you are not alone. I too had no idea what shield meant in this context. I have little to no experience with Arduinos and so the term was just confusing to me. In fact, I think sister-board, daughter-board, or control-board would have been much more appropriate than shield. (for those who don't know: In the context of radio, the word 'shield' implies that we want to block radio waves, not receive them. In this case, shield is used by the author to describe an FM radio board that sits on an Arduino board like a cover or a shield.) I also agree that this seems to be more about laser etching than it is about actually showing us how to make one. Cool project though!

    When I first saw this instructable, I was expecting the Arduino to have a more active role in the receiver. So far as I understand it, in this setup, the Arduino configures the receiver but has no idea what, if anything, is being received. Given the bidirectional nature of the I2C bus, I would expect the AR1010 to be capable of sending feedback to the Arduino. (However, the datasheet doesn't even specify the protocol!) With such an addition this could be a marketable shield. Nice work, I look forward to seeing future versions, Chris

    1 reply

    It appears to be an exercise in "software defined radio", a new branch of radio design, where software takes the place of a lot of the hardware. It's getting popular in amateur radio as well, and is finding its way into military gear, since it can be reconfigured with a software change instead of rebuilding hardware. If something in a system gets compromised, change the software and it's no longer the same system. Here's a good page describing some of the work being done on SDR:

    I have been building my own electronic equipment since I needed a selection of punches for the tube sockets. Do I need to get a laser engraving tool now?

    I'm missing a stage here. How did you get the printed schema onto the coated PCB? Does it have to do any thing with the paint? O>