In this circuit, a 74HC14 hex Schmitt trigger inverter is used as a square wave oscillator to drive a small signal transistor in a class C amplifier configuration.

The oscillator frequency can be either fixed by a crystal or made adjustable (VFO) with a capacitor/resistor combination.

A 100pF capacitor is used in place of the crystal for VFO operation. Amplitude modulation is accomplished with a second transistor that controls the DC voltage to the output stage.
The modulator stage is biased so that half the supply voltage or 6 volts is applied to the output stage with no modulation. The output stage is tuned and matched to the antenna with a standard variable 30-365 pF capacitor.

Approximately 20 milliamps of current will flow in the antenna lead (at frequencies near the top of the band) when the output stage is optimally tuned to the oscillator frequency.

A small ‘grain of wheat’ lamp is used to indicate antenna current and optimum settings. The 140 uH inductor was made using a 2 inch length of 7/8 inch (OD) PVC pipe wound with 120 turns of #28 copper wire.

Best performance is obtained near the high end of the broadcast band (1.6 MHz) since the antenna length is only a very small fraction of a wavelength. Input power to the amplifier is less than 100 milliwatts and antenna length is 3 meters or less which complies with FCC rules.

Output power is somewhere in the 40 microwatt range and the signal can be heard approximately 80 feet. Radiated power output can be approximated by working out the antenna radiation resistance and multiplying by the antenna current squared.

The radiation resistance for a dipole antenna less than 1/4 wavelength is R = 80*[(pi)^2]*[(Length/wavelength)^2]*(a factor depending on the form of the current distribution).

The factor depending on the current distribution turns out to be [(average current along the rod)/(feed current)]^2 for short rods, which is 1/4 for a linearly-tapered current distribution falling to zero at the ends.

Even if the rods are capped with plates, this factor cannot be larger than 1. Substituting values for a 9.8 foot dipole at a frequency of 1.6 MHz we get R= 790*.000354*.25 = .07 Ohms.

And the resistance will be only half as much for a monopole or 0.035 Ohms. Radiated power at 20 milliamps works out to about I^2 * R = 14 microwatts.

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