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• Changes have been made to this instructable, these changes are denoted by asterisks ( * )

A single station 555 timer radio from a few simple and common parts. Switches between an oscillator and AM radio receiver. A few things I should warn you about before you get too excited...

1. This is a simple circuit I built by accident, it does not mean it is the best way to build it.
2. I'm still new to circuit mathematics so it have a few problems or calculations that could help find a better solution for this circuit.
3. It's currently a single station radio (I don't actually know the range because I think I live within a 1/4 mile of the station I'm receiving from)
4. It's really static-y and voices are a bit garbled (the first time it worked i thought it was just the capacitors discharging and having the trimmer resistor in between resistance values), I believe you can get it in a better quality with a few more electronics but i haven't tested that theory out.

Also note: I do in fact know the pics are pretty low quality, I'm still getting used to my new camera.

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Step 1: The Parts You'll Need

*3 resistors - *220 ohm, *100 ohm, *1 Megohm
*3 capacitors- 2 x .01 microFarad, *10pF ( .00001 microFarads = 10 picoFarads) You can use a 10 microFarad capacitor if you do not have a 10 picoFarad capacitor (you can get them in a value packs at Radio Shack)
• approx. 6 or more inches of single solid-strand wire (or an antenna)
1 LED (optional)
1 555 timer IC chip
*2 trimmer resistors or potentiometers- (It's ok if this isn't exact) 83 kilohm
*1 8 ohm speaker (not a 'beeper', a piezospeaker will work but it's not really worth it because it's very quiet)
1 9v battery and 9v battery connector (note: What I'm using is a 5v (wall) power supply from a different breadboard but a 9v will do just fine)

Step 2: Putting It Together

Let me remind you the pin with the dot/depression next to it is the 1st pin and you will count counter-clockwise around the board to the 8th pin (across from the 1st pin).
Below is the actual schematic for the circuit.

Ok first to start off, we'll apply our power and ground to the respective 8th and 1st pins. *After close inspection of a rather dangerous difference in circuit functionality I found it urgent to add that if you're using a 9v battery you need to put a trimmer resitor or potentiometer between the positive side of the battery to either the power rail on the breadboard or to the 8th pin on the timer chip due to the fact that a 9v will begin to heat up your 555 timer chip incredibly fast, and if left exposed to the overdose in voltage, could lead to a burned out chip or fire. All you need to do with this "power trimmer" you just need to resist enough voltage for safe operation (trimmer should resist about 1.8 ohms). For this step you may want to use a multimeter, but you don't NEED one to trim it well, simply place your finger on the chip when you apply voltage and use a screwdriver to trim the power down (increase the resistance of the trimmer). If you're voltage is too high you will burn your finger so i suggest having cold water somewhere nearby for that. You will also need to disconnect the power and turn up the resistance and let the chip cool before trying again.

Next we connect our *220 ohm resistor to our power (you can also use the 8th pin) and 7th pin. Then connect the 100 ohm from the 7th pin to the 2nd pin. Then connect a jumper wire from the 2nd pin to the 6th pin.

Third we'll add the *10pF capacitor to the 2 pin and ground.

Fourth we take our .01 microFarad capacitor and connect it between the 5th pin and power.

After that we will connect a jumper wire from the center pin of our trimmer resistor/potentiometer to * the 4th pin. Then we connect one of the other two outside pins of the trimmer resistor to *ground (either trimmer pin will work).

Before adding the fun stuff we will need to connect our *antenna (which allows the radio to work without having to touch the circuit physically) to the 4th pin by way of a .01 microFarad capacitor as then connecting the 1 Megohm resistor to the 4th pin and power.

Finally we connect our speaker and LED to the 3rd pin of the 555 timer chip by way of jumper wires and connect the two negative terminals to ground.

EDIT- Added two paragraphs: Alright so I've received a comment about needing to explain how this works. I can give an explanation as to how it works but it's not the most likely to be right. You may wonder "Why?", which I simply by saying, this is the first 555 timer radio I've found on the internet and I'm not the most advanced electronics person so I'm still learning the ins-and-outs of this circuit. Therefore I'm giving only my GUESS as to how it works. (To those can explain this better please post comments so I can get this following statement corrected).

Theory:

Sorry, that took so long to read but that's as detialed as I could think of to explain how it works.

Step 3: Testing It Out

All you have to do is connect your power and ground to the respective terminals of the 9v battery connector. If you're lucky you will get an AM radio signal in a crackly fashion over your speaker. Like I said before, it definitely needs improvement, so leave a comment and I'll change it as soon as I can.

Tip: I got a fairly good signal by tuning my trimmer to 55.5 kilohms.
The reception will be pretty much the same throughout a building but you will need to do a LOT of work positioning the antenna ( works almost like positioning rabbit ears)

(I'm trying to put a video of it working here but I'm having trouble, I'll put it in as soon as I can.)

If you aren't so lucky and can't get a radio broadcast on it, it still works as an oscillator, you may need to pull switch some things around to get a nice frequency that you can see working. I recommend pulling the 1Megohm resistor and just connecting pin 4 to power.
If you want to learn more about 555 timer circuits you can go to the following site.
http://home.cogeco.ca/~rpaisley4/LM555.html

If you want to try and get other radio stations I suggest you read the info at the following site as well as the one above so that you can tune your radio to different stations. This is unconfirmed but I have tried other frequencies from the low AM radio bands to high FM bands but i still get the same signal, so if you get different stations let me know and I'll add that here.

• Changes made on the potentiometer position (July 26th, 2009) is credited to 8bitprodigy

Happy building!

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26 Discussions

sorry for my english but but I speak spanish but I will try to tell you something to improve me what I would do outside make a small rf amplifier and connect it to the pin 4 and also make an oscillator and connect it to pin 5

Piezo is a crystal. When it is squeezed it gives off electrical current. It is also possible to apply current to piezo crystal and get sound.

I made it, and i can get about 3stations by messing with r1, r5 and c2, all in the am band

Update!, i now get almost 20 stations by making r1 variable 1-100 kiloohms, r5 34kiloohms and c2 variable 2-500 nanofarad!, and also my sound quality was greatly increased by putting a .001 picofarad capacitor between output and ground on the 555!

Amazing ! I've seen many different uses for the 555 but not a radio !
I Tried it myself with some different resistor and trimmer values cause i had no other ones around and i managed to get some sort of signal but it was crackling a lot , a tlc555 instead of a ne555n makes any difference ? ( other than the power consumption )

The difference is very small, same basic components inside, the only eception to this is if you are using the cmos-555 version, in which case theres a massive dufference

I have some NE555,what can I make?I also have TL494 SG3525 LM386 TDA2030.I have alreadly use an SG3525 to make a thing to light a lamp with220VAC.

I pulled out the parts box and put this together in about half an hour (including interruptions). It was a nice diversion on a Saturday afternoon. I, too, could only receive one station but it's good as a proof of concept device. Unfortunately, the only station I could receive was Spanish language and my Spanish is limited to ordering in restaurants.

Fun project.

hi for your receiving capacitor you should use a variable on that should change stations

In a NE555 chip i think you just need to change the capacitor to change the frequency. try adding a trimer cap. =)

what is exact frequency of this radio? can u provide me a simple circuit for transmission also?