Veronica 50mW FM Transmitter – Review

It arrived as stated, 3 days after ordering, in a jiffy bag, which contained the board, and a comprehensive set of instructions. I ordered the assembled version, as I didn’t imagine that I would have the time (or the inclination!) to assemble a kit myself. (Plus it has been about 12 years since I last picked up soldering iron!) So everything I say about this device refers to the assembled version.

The PCB dimensions are: 102mm x 104mm. It is supplied with 4 wires dangling off it: – a pair of red & black power supply wires, about 6 inches long, terminated in a PP3 battery connector, and a pair of longer yellow wires (about 26 inches long), one of which is the antenna, the other is a ground. (The wires are not shown in the pictures, although you can just make out the ends of them in the 2nd pic). There are adjustments for both the Audio level and the transmission frequency on-board, via a pair of Variable resistors and an adjustable capacitor. The instruction leaflet is four sheets of printed A4, and includes a complete component list, a circuit diagram, a PCB layout diagram, construction and testing instructions, Troubleshooting guide, and even a couple of paragraphs of soldering tips!

No power supply is included, but the board can run off anything between 6 to 16 VDC, (the specifications state 12VDC), so I used the closest thing that came to hand which was a PP3 9V battery, which is handy really as the board is supplied with a PP3 battery connector ready soldered on to the power supply leads. (Not shown in the picture). I connected this up to the battery connector, and immediately the green LED in the centre of the board illuminated to indicate power. Then I hooked up a phono lead to the two on-board phono connectors, and plugged the other end into a PC’s soundcard. I started an MP3 playlist going, and went off to try to tune into it.

Obviously I didn’t know what frequency it was transmitting on, but I know from the documentation that the possible frequency range is 88 – 108MHz, so using the Hi-Fi in the same room, I just used the auto-seek feature of the digital tuner to search for it. After about 2 minutes I was listening to the MP3’s on the HiFi in that room! – Success!

Next test was to see how far away I could pick it up, so I proceeded to repeat the same exercise on all the other tuners in the house. – Every one of them was able to pick up the broadcast clear & clean. (Now my house isn’t particularly large – just an average-sized 3-bed semi), but all the tuners in the house were receiving it OK, the farthest one being about 30 feet away through several solid brick walls. I also tried to pick it up from my car, but that was less successful, – even though my car was parked right outside the house (about 20 feet from the front door, and about 50 feet from the transmitter), the car tuner would not lock onto the signal in auto-seek mode, and I had to manually tune to the right frequency. Once I had done this, I could just about make out the MP3, but it was very faint & crackly. (Note that range can be increased by upping the supply voltage to a max 16VDC) Also note that all of the tuners I tested it with in my house only have the cheap ribbon FM aerials on them that are usually supplied free with the kit. (That’s another upcoming project!)

I then needed to make a more permanent fixture of it, so I bought a project case from Maplins, along with several panel-mount connectors to bring the boards interfaces out to the front of the case. (Note: – the on-board phono connectors are mounted on the PCB such that the connector barrels do NOT overhang the edge of the PCB, therefore it is not possible to mount the PCB with the phono connectors “poking out” of a case)

I bought the following:

2 x panel-mount phono connectors
1 x 2.5mm panel-mount mono jack socket } for
1 x 2.5mm mono jack plug } power
1 x universal power supply (wall-wart)

I had a couple of problems with this, – firstly, Maplins did not have a case anywhere near a “good” fit. – I had to get one that was considerably larger. Secondly, I purchased an el-cheapo wall-wart, not realising that the board >requires< a regulated supply. (This is clearly stated in the instructions, so that was my mistake). I spent a good few hours struggling with that PSU before giving it up as a bad job and buying a better regulated PSU (I got the Uniross Uni 1200R from Maplins for £14.99, although I believe Argos do the exact same one for £9.99). Using the correct PSU solved all the problems I had been experiencing, and it all worked perfectly. – A word of warning though, that particular PSU is HUGE, – it’s the size and weight of a housebrick, so you may prefer to seek out a much smaller one – Maplins have a range of both variable and fixed voltage regulated PSU’s that are a much smaller size, I plan to get one of these shortly.

All in all, I am very happy with this unit, – it certainly has much better range than the Scan “Car DAP” device, (which I also have), and the audio quality, while obviously not to audiophile levels, seems perfectly acceptable to my ears. – And whilst I’m not an audiophile, I can certainly discern reasonably small levels of hiss/hum/squelch/interference etc. and I cannot stand them!. Using this makes whole house audio a breeze, as I already have reasonably good tuners in just about every room in the house, all I have to do is save my transmitters’ frequency as a preset station and voila! Within about 10 minutes of receiving this board, I had my laptop playing MP3’s to every room in the house..

Approximate Price £25.95 (Kit)
£35.95 (Assembled & tested)

Available From Veronica   :   Inexpensive USB FM Transmitter Here

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