project using a $10.00 doorbell
No kits are available for this project
You cannot beat the Chinese.
The project described in this article is a ready-made item from a $2.00
shop! And it is made in China!
It is a wireless doorbell with a cost of about $10.00.
It is so cheap, you could not build it from components for $10.00!
So, we have to change our attitude to building projects and use items such as
this to learn how things work and modify them to suit our own
This doorbell uses quality components. It's not rubbish. The circuit is
quite unbelievable. You can not obtain some of the components individually and
the effectiveness is magic. We have so much to learn!
The first thing you will notice is the clever
circuitry. Some of the design goes against everything we have learnt in
THE TRANSMITTER CIRCUIT
That's why we have to study other people's designs and realise "the more
you know, the more you realise you don't know."
The oscillator circuit is very interesting, but first we will look at
the RF oscillator.
The doorbell operates on the 303MHz band and the 30 metre range (100ft)
is obtained without the use of an antenna! The circuit is actually
radiating from the printed track of the tank circuit. The Tank Circuit
is a single-turn coil and a
small capacitor (5p & 4p in parallel).
In this project we show how to add a small antenna to the circuit
to get double the range - plus two other improvements to increase the
Some of the improvements will load the circuit and alter the
frequency at which it operates. Others can be done without any effect on
Fortunately, the transmitting stage is what we call "tight" and is not
affected by surrounding "stray capacitance."
Normally, this stray capacitance is a persons hand or body, touching or
coming near the transmitting (output) stage and altering the frequency.
The circuit has been kept near the power rails by the use of a choke in
the positive rail. The positive rail is then reflected to the negative
rail via the battery.
This feature helps us when we want to add an antenna.
A 7cm length of tinned copper wire is connected to the collector of the
transistor and bent around the board so that everything can be put back
into the case.
When the project was tested inside the authors house, the range was
increased to double.
When the transmitter was taken outside, the range was over 60 metres
(200ft) and the full range could not be tested as the sound from the
doorbell was too faint to be heard!
We can learn so much from a product that is already on the market.
Firstly, you know it works, it is reliable and you know what can be
built for $10.00.
Secondly, you know what type of components can be purchased cheaply and what
to expect from them.
In this case the transmitting transistor has the highest gain - so they
have taken a special effort to get a good quality transistor.
Now, let's look at the transmitter circuit:
The transmitter circuit is made up of two building blocks - the 303MHz
RF oscillator and the 32kHz crystal controlled oscillator.
The 303MHz oscillator consists of a self-oscillating circuit made up of
the coil on the PC board and a 9p (9 puff) capacitor (actually 4p and
5p in parallel).
The circuit starts-up by the transistor producing noise. This
rising-and-falling signal on the collector is passed to the parallel
tuned circuit (the tank circuit) and the base sees a very smooth
sinewave at a frequency of 303MHz.
This sinewave is then amplified by the transistor and this is how the
303MHz frequency is generated.
Now we come to the purpose of the 15microhenry choke on the tank
When the circuit oscillates, it takes a larger and small amount of
This current passes through the choke and the turns produce a back-emf
or back voltage that fights against the flow (change) in current. The
end effect is a voltage created at the point where the choke is
connected to the track-work on the board. This effectively allows the
track work to produce a waveform and since the frequency of this wave is
very high, a percentage of the energy is radiated into the air as
The choke allows the track-work to effectively rise and fall while
providing a very low resistance path for the flow of current during
certain parts of the cycle.
The second building block is the crystal oscillator.
This is made up of a two-stage DC coupled amplifier
with feedback via the 2n2 and crystal.
If the crystal is removed, the oscillator is seen as producing very
narrow spikes with a frequency determined by the 2n2, as shown in the
When the crystal is added, the frequency increases (because the effect
of the 2n2 and crystal in series creates a lower capacitance than 2n2) and as it rises, the
amplitude of the feedback signal increases until it reaches a maximum at the resonant
frequency of the crystal. The crystal exhibits the lowest impedance (the
highest capacitance) at the resonant frequency. This is how the circuit stabilizes at the
frequency of the crystal.
When the device is turned on, the 150k on the base of the second
transistor turns the transistor on.
The third transistor has 0.65v on the collector and the base also
receives very close to 0.65v, via the 220k resistor.
The third transistor is not fully turned on and it produces a small
amount of noise. This noise is passed to the second transistor and
appears on the collector. The collector passes this noise to the base of
the third transistor and the noise very rapidly increases to a maximum.
It comes to a point where the waveform above is generated and the reason
why the spikes are so narrow is easy to explain.
When the middle transistor changes from an OFF state to an ON state, the
capacitor will be partially charged and the voltage on the end connected
to the base of the third transistor will drop about 6v and put a
negative voltage on the base of the third transistor. This will keep it
off and the middle transistor will be kept ON via the 150k
The capacitor will gradually charge in the opposite direction via the
220k and 150k and when the base of the third transistor sees about 0.6v,
it begins to turn ON.
This causes the middle transistor to turn OFF and the collector voltage
rises. This causes the capacitor to charge and create a current-flow in
the base of the third transistor. Both transistors are now turned ON and
the capacitor charges very quickly via the 12k and base-emitter junction
of the third transistor. This creates the very narrow high-period in the
When the push button is pressed, the circuit produces a 303MHz carrier
with a 32kHz tone.
The receiver detects the 32kHz and turns on a SOUND chip.
THE RECEIVER CIRCUIT
The receiver circuit consists of a number of stages and we will go
through each one separately.
The first stage is actually a 303MHz oscillator that is operating all
It produces a clean 303MHz signal and this frequency is too high to be
detected or processed by the 4069 chip, as the chip will only operate to
The theory behind using this type of stage is quite simple.
It is easier to "upset" or modify a stage that is already oscillating,
rather than get a non-oscillating stage to begin oscillating.
There are all sorts of electromagnetic radiation at 300MHz and the 2-turn
coil picks up all this noise.
The 303MHz oscillator is firstly set into operation by the noise
produced by the transistor and this is passed to the tank circuit made
up of the 2-turn coil and 2p capacitor as a parallel tuned circuit. The
transistor keeps amplifying this until it gets to a stabilized point
where the collector is producing "hash" (junk) of about 300mV.
When the transmitter is activated, the receiver circuit will detect a signal as small as
a few micro-volts and the 32kHz signal will be included with all the
There is a little bit more behind this receiving stage, than first meets
The stage is actually a transmitter, but we will still call it the
receiver circuit. Yes, it is a very weak transmitter
and it fills the surrounding with a clean 303MHz signal. When the 303MHz
signal from the transmitter enters this space, the signals interfere
with one another and the receiver takes more and less current as
it tries to maintain the signal strength. When the 32kHz
signal is present, the receiver takes a varying current that corresponds
to the 32kHz signal and this is how the receiver circuit produces the
waveform to correspond to the 32KHz.
A low-impedance path to the 0v rail is provided for the emitter by using
a 82uH choke and a 2n2 capacitor across a 560R resistor.
This low impedance path is needed so that the transistor has a high
The circuit is put into very delicate oscillation by using a 1k5 from
the positive rail.
It operates from 3v and the current taken by this stage is less
THE BRASS TUNING-SLUG
The coil in the tank circuit is tuned via a brass screw (or slug or
This is alters the frequency at which the circuit operates, when it is
turned via a small screwdriver.
At 303MHz, you cannot use a ferrite core as it will completely absorb
the magnetic radiation produced by the coil and prevent the circuit
Another choice is air. If you use an air cored coil, you can use a
trimmer capacitor to adjust the frequency. A cheaper approach is to use
a brass core. Brass has a permeability very close to air (µ0
is the permeability of free space) and it has very little effect on
concentrating the magnetic lines of flux or moving them apart.
Materials that cause the lines of flux to move farther apart,
resulting in a decrease in magnetic flux density compared with a vacuum,
are called diamagnetic. Materials that concentrate magnetic flux by a
factor of more than one but less than or equal to ten are called
paramagnetic; materials that concentrate the flux by a factor of more
than ten are called ferromagnetic.
However, at very high frequencies, such as 303MHz, the magnetic flux
causes eddy currents to flow in the brass and this decreases the
available flux so that inserting a brass core causes the frequency to
This is how the receiver is tuned to exactly the same frequency as the
The most critical capacitor in the receiver is the 2p. This sets the
frequency. The 4p is merely a feedback capacitor.
The 2n2 and 1n are
called "pass" capacitors and allow high frequency signals to pass
through them. The 1n actually keeps the positive and
negative rails rigid while the 2n2 prevents the emitter moving up and
down when amplifying the 303MHz signal.
The signal on the collector passes to the first input of the chip via a 5k6 resistor and
1n (pass capacitor).
A lot of the high frequency component is removed with the 1n capacitor
connected to the 0v rail.
The first inverter has a 1M connected between the output and input to
set it to mid rail so it becomes a high-gain amplifier.
The second and third inverters also amplify the signal and on pin 6 we
have a signal greater than 0.6v containing a lot of noise and an
identifiable 32kHz waveform.
The 32kHz crystal only allows the 32kHz signal to pass and the base of
the transistor sees a very clean signal. Any other frequencies will not
appear on the base of the transistor. The 32kHz is further amplified with two more stages and appears at pin 10 of
It is then passed to a diode pump that charges a 47u electrolytic.
Normally, this electrolytic is uncharged and pin 8 is HIGH. The PNP
transistor is not turned on and the sound chip is silent.
But when the electrolytic charges, the transistor turns
on and the sound chip operates.
One of the main reasons for presenting this project is to show how to
get the best range from a transmitter.
Normally you need very expensive equipment to help you, but
a very clever alternative is to use our method.
All you have to do is place the receiver about 15 metres from the
transmitter and in a very poor reception area.
The aim is to get the receiver to be at the extreme end of the range so
that if you move the transmitter away by as little as a metre, the
receiver will not detect the signal.
Now the receiver is a very sensitive RF indicator. By moving the
transmitter to different places, the receiver should
not detect the signal.
You are now ready to add an antenna to the transmitter and determine its
We have already mentioned the transmitter circuit is classified as
"tight" and adding an antenna should not shift the frequency.
ADDING AN ANTENNA
The 7cm antenna is added to the point where the choke touches the PC
coil on the board.
Adding the 7cm antenna
This point is highly active but it does not interfere with the
operation of the circuit, when the antenna is connected.
Bend the wire around the edge of the board and about 0.5cm above it and test the transmitter. You
should get an increase in the range, up to double.
If the range does not increase appreciably, the receiver may not be tuned
exactly to the transmitter. To do this, adjust the brass screw in the
tank circuit of the receiver.
Before making any adjustment, make sure you know the original position
by noting the alignment of the slot.
Only turn the screw about 15° in
either direction and take a "field test." If the range reduces, you
know the screw has been turned in the wrong direction.
INCREASING THE OUTPUT
Another thing that will increase the output of the transmitter involves
rewiring the LED.
At the moment the LED is in series with the positive rail of the
This effectively drops about 1.7v and the circuit only gets 7.3v from a
By connecting the LED between the positive and 0v rail, with a 470R load
resistor, the transmitting section will see 9v and this will increase
One more thing that will increase the output is to add a 220R across the
220R emitter resistor of the transmitter transistor.
This increased the range in our prototype, but the frequency-adjusting screw on the
receiver had to be turned about 15°
clockwise to compensate for the slight change in frequency.
from $2.00 shops
1 - 220R resistor
1 - 470R
1 - 7cm tinned copper wire
If you want to build this project using your own components, but do
not have the 32kHz crystals, here is a modification that does not
The only components you will have to know how to make are the coils.
The size, shape and wire diameter are important as the frequency is
very high and the coil must be identical to those in the doorbell
products we bought for this article.