Top 3 FM Broadcast Transmitters for Kids

When I was kid (here I go again), bla bla bla… <read the story here>

Any kid, especially boys, will always have a fascination for electronics.  What better way than to introduce them to fm microbroadcasting.

I can still feel that warm fuzzy feeling I had when the contraption I made based on the Xandi schematics sent squealing sounds to our fm radio.

<woooosh><high pitched squeal><buzzing noise>

My hands were literally shaking as I slowly turned the green inductor coil I scavenged from an old am radio. Then the x-marks-the-spot-oh-yeah moment…

Hello? Hello? <woooosh><tap><tap> Red Leader <radio static> this is Blue Leader.

(yeah I’m a fan of Starwars)

[This is the transmitter you are looking for. Buy it now.  Do not under estimate the power of the airwaves]

But then not all kids were like you or me. Not every kid has the burning desire to go where no kid has ever gone before. Some are content with pulling girls hair, hunting toads and just plain making our lives miserable.

Yet every kid finds joy in hearing their voice out of an fm radio.  Trust me.

They don’t have to go where I have gone.  There are kits and boxed sets ready to hijack the airwaves once they reach your doors. Well of course you can assemble an fm tranmitter with your tot and have some quality family bonding time.  Or get the boxed set and hit the airwaves immediately.

So let me introduce you to three FM Broadcast Transmitters that I think are for kids.

<ehem>

[These are the transmitters you are looking for.]

Ramsey FM10C

This is the cheapest of the three.  But it’s performance is nothing to laugh about.  As long as you operate it under its rated power you and your kid are set to go.  Lottsa fun and no rules broken (FCC?).  The FM10A is actually a simple implementation of the BA1404 FM stereo transmitter. So simple that it works beautifully.  Plug in the power supply, audio source, a good microphone…  their’s this wee little bit of a problem though, the Ramsey FM10C is guilty of frequency drift.  I built a transmitter around this BA1404 when I was in high school and was never able to solve the frequency drift.  It was a joy to build and operate.

But HEY!!! With a price like this?  Who’s going to complain?  Just keep it under the FCC limit and you’ll be fine.

Ramsey FM25A

Honestly just souped up version of the FM10C.  Ramsey advertises it as “Professional”.  Really now.   It’s too good for a kid but still a toy for us “experts”.  Like I said, this is just a souped up version of the FM10C.  They added a PIC microprocessor to easily shift frequencies with the use of dip switches ( I call them piano switches).  Plus a rudimentary PLL control to minimize the drift I was talking about that plagued the FM10C.   But at least they replaced the BA1404 with the newer BH1415F.  This accounts for the noticeable stereo separation.   Or perhaps this is just the  “cutting edge stereo generator”  Ramsey is boasting about, which in my opinion, is only so so (2/5 stars).

This is a true blooded build-it-plug-it-play-it fm transmitter kit with a barely acceptable price tag.



Synthesized FM Stereo Transmitter Kit ...
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 Ramsey FM30B

The FM30 could well be the pinnacle of all Ramsey Transmitter.  Well of course that’s debatable if we put the FM100BEX into the picture.  Yet the FM100BEX minus its higher power output is I think just a souped up FM30B.   By the way I have all this three sets one time or another.  I kept my version of the FM10C since it was my design.  The others went to a garage sale.

Anyway, the FM30B is definitely not for kids.  I mean from seasoned kit builder’s point of view.  It’s a lot more complicated than the others.  It does sport a 2 line LCD panel  that show all the FM transmitters setting.  It also has a PLL lock indicator using led lights.  A non volatile memory to store the settings and enough bells and whistles to blow the first two kits away.  It still uses BH1415F chip but the implementation is perfect.  Perfect ion the sense that it virtually eliminated the problems of the FM10C and FM25A.   The blue circuit board looks very professional and sturdy.  I did have a few problem soldering one of the chips. So I soldered first a modifed ic socket.



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So does it sound good? You bet it does.  One thing is for sure: no squeals or high pitch tones or other noise.  I hate to say this but it is almost squeaky clean with the good inputs.  Now if you use crappy inputs… that’s another story.  I used a small Behringer XENYX 802, a laptop, a, MXL condenser microphone and a diy op filter to complete the setup.

The transmitter housing was sturdy as it can be.  I added a 1 stage RF amplifier based on the 2N386 which boosted the range to something beyond two miles with the antenna sitting on top of a bamboo pole strapped to a tree.

So is it for kids? You bet it is.  (just don’t let them assemble it)

CONCLUSION

It’s for kids remember? So I’d go for the Ramsey FM10C if the transmitter is for family use only.  Like a weekend barbecue party and the likes when we adults drink beer and the kids run around planning to destroy the world.

If it is for the cub scout troop, jamborees, school affairs:  I’ll get the FM30B.  It’s sturdy.  It sounds great and probably good until the kids reach high school.  That’s a good investment for a kids toy.

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