Electronic – easy to construct FM low-pass or band-pass filter

filterraspberry piRF

Suppose I wanted to filter a Raspberry Pi's (or other similar) GPIO digital output (running pifm or rpitx or similar) to be clean enough to not splatter RF harmonics outside of FCC Part 15 (or equivalent for other countries) unlicensed RF broadcast allowances. What might be some suitable FM broadcast band low-pass filter or band-pass filter designs that could be constructed out of the easiest-to-procure and manipulate components and materials (e.g. something suitable for a kid's student project, nothing tiny surface mount, etc.) Is this possible?

Best Answer

If you dont care about bulky and messy construction, a DIY filter made with hand wound coils and copper clad is the way to go. Get yourself some enamel wire and a ceramic capacitor kit from ebay.

However, in my opinion do not bulid the doubly tuned band pass filter suggested by one of the answers, atleast not the form shown. The filter shown, couples the resonators using capacitors only, this introduces a "zero" in the frequency response. Simply put, the filter roll off for frequencies greater than the resonant frequency is terrible, so it is not a sensible choice for harmonic suppression. Furthermore, aligning it without variable (expensive!) capacitors is difficult. (The filter is however an excellent choice for an IF filter)

Build a 7th or 9th order Butterworth Low Pass filter using similar techniques, they are much more well behaved and easier to construct.

Here a 9th order LPF I built. The bandwidth is 100Mhz and at 200Mhz I get > 70dB attenuation.

Use the calculator found here: http://www.wa4dsy.net/filter/hp_lp_filter.html

EDIT: How to wind the inductors:

At these frequencies the inductors are small enough to be air core and hand wound. So start by some enamel wire, wind a few turns around something like a pen and measure the inductance produced. This will give you a standard to refer to in terms of inductance per turn for a certain diameter. Now take it from there. You do not need to be spot on, just get close enough and then tweak the inductance by varying the coil separation. This is how I did it.

You might not have a LCR meter capable of measuring such small inductances (I didnt have one either). So simply, build a fast edge square wave (or use the TTL output of your cheap signal generator) and feed it into a test circuit with a known capacitor and unknown inductor. Probe it using a X10 probe and measure the ringing frequency and calculate the inductance. Careful about the length of coax you use in the above setup as that is going to have comparable capacitance to your test circuit.

EDIT: The wire I've used has a 0.6mm diameter and the coil diameter is about 7mm. So this is a good starting point for you to use for building inductors for this frequency range.

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