Back to Basics

I know that the blog updates have been a bit light over the last week or so. Although we have been in our new house for three weeks now, it seems like the chores just keep piling up. However, I have done a little bit of work in the homebrewing department. Inspired by messages from WB9VTB and KB9BVN, I decided it might be nice to create a simple code practice oscillator based on the twin-T sidetone oscillator from the Willamette. The discrete component CPO published by the ARRL is really neat because it is very simple and has a unique build method. However, the circuit is your traditional astable multivibrator, which produces a near-square wave. I guess I’m spoiled, but I like listening to a clean sine wave. It certainly doesn’t take any more components to build a twin-T compared to an astable multivibrator.

I experimented with a few different ideas for simple, discrete component audio amplifiers to pair with the oscillator, but settled on perhaps the simplest of all: an emitter follower. The twin-T oscillator puts out a waveform with a fairly large voltage, so all I really needed to do was tack on an emitter follower to provide some high impedance buffering for the oscillator. The entire circuit is extremely simple and produces a pleasant tone at 600 Hz, which you can sample here. The circuit can easily drive low impedance headphones, but if you wanted to listen on a speaker, you would need more amplification. An easy solution would be to plug in a set of amplified speakers, but it wouldn’t be hard to add another stage of amplification.

I’ve created a Manhattan layout for the circuit, and I think that I would like to develop a complete kit with full build instructions at some time in the future. Something that would make it easy for the complete homebrewing novice to successfully build. I know that CPOs are a dime-a-dozen, but I think that the simplicity of this design (2 NPN transistors, handful of resistors and caps, a few 1/8″ phone jacks) is a bit unique.

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