Several years ago, National Semiconductor came out with some very high performance, easy to use audio power amplifier ICs. I was in need of an extra amplifier so I could biamp some of my home-built electrostatic loudspeakers so I tried the LM3886 chip.
This part was chosen because of the ease of use, power output, turn-on and off thump suppression, low distortion, and built-in protection against shorts and thermal runaway. There isn’t much more to ask of a power amp than that. When driving electrostatic speakers, you can’t have too much protection!
A tutorial on making an LM386 audio amplifier circuit from Afrotechmods:
A tutorial on how to use the popular LM386 class AB audio amplifier IC to build a simple mono 1 watt audio amplifier. It costs less than $3 in parts! There is also a brief discussion of how to use high pass filters to prevent op-amp oscillation and subsequent noise.
Many years ago I’d read about the type of tube that is now often referred to as a “Gammatron” – a “gridless” amplifier tube of the 1920s, so-designed to get around patents that included what would seem to be fundamental aspects of any tube such as the control grid. Instead of a grid, the “third” control element was located near the “cathode” and “anode”. As you might expect, the effective gain of this type of tube was rather low, but it did work, even though it really didn’t catch on. It was the similarity between the description of the “Gammatron” and these “rod” tubes that intrigued me.
[curcuz]’s BoomBeastic mini is a Raspberry Pi based smart connected speaker. But don’t dis it as just another media center kind of project. His blog post is more of a How-To guide on setting up container software, enabling OTA updates and such, and can be a good learning project for some. Besides, the design is quite elegant and nice.
The hardware is simple. There’s the Raspberry-Pi — he’s got instructions on making it work with the Pi2, Pi2+, Pi3 or the Pi0. Since the Pi’s have limited audio capabilities, he’s using a DAC, the Adafruit I2S 3W Class D Amplifier Breakout for the MAX98357A, to drive the Speaker. The I2S used by that part is Inter-IC Sound — a 3 wire peer to peer audio bus — and not to be confused with I2C. For some basic visual feedback, he’s added an 8×8 LED matrix with I2C interface. A Speaker rounds out the BoM. The enclosure is inspired by the Pimoroni PiBow which is a stack of laser cut MDF sheets. The case design went through four iterations, but the final result looks very polished.
On the software side, the project uses Mopidy — a Python application that runs in a terminal or in the background on devices that have network connectivity and audio output. Out of the box, it is an MPD and HTTP server. Additional front-ends for controlling Mopidy can be installed from extensions, enabling Spotify, Soundcloud and Google Music support, for example. To allow over-the-air programming, [curcuz] is using resin.io which helps streamline management of devices that are hard to reach physically. The whole thing is containerized using Docker. Additional instructions on setting up all of the software and libraries are posted on his blog post, and the code is hosted on GitHub.
There’s a couple of “To-Do’s” on his list which would make this even more interesting. Synced audio being one: in a multi-device environment, have the possibility to sync them and reproduce the same audio. The other would be to add an Emoji and Equalizer display mode for the LED matrix. Let [curcuz] know if you have any suggestions.
Mullard 3-3 is quiet popular 3W tube amplifier introduced by Mullard Ltd in 1956. A schematic and design detail of this amplifier is available in “Mullard Circuits for Audio Amplifiers” book and in National Valve Museum article. This amplifier is based on EF86, EL84 vacuum tubes and EZ80 full wave rectifier tube. In this project we decided to construct this original Mullard 3-3 Amplifier with some slight changes and commonly available electronic components.
In our prototype we replace EZ80 tube with 400V 5A bridge rectifier which is commonly available in many electronic spare parts shops. Also we replace EL84 with 6P14P pentode and EF86 with 6J8 pentode. Both of these valves can directly use with this circuit and those values are available for lesser price than EL84, EF86 tubes.