A couple of months ago my wife asked me whether she could listen to her favourite internet radio station on the HiFi stereo system that we have in our living room, rather than having to have the speakers on the PC in the office turned up to maximum volume. This is a UK radio station that only streams on the internet in Real Audio format. Easy I said, leave it to me. However as with all engineering problems there were several solutions. These are the ones that I came up with;
I was getting more and more frustrated. Surely it must be easier than this. Finally the most obvious and simple solution dawned on me and I kicked myself for not having thought of this earlier...
The stereo already has a built in receiver. Build an FM transmitter! So I did. I bought one of these beauties which was on offer at the time for $110, took out my trusty soldering iron, multimeter and pointed nose pliars and built this in a day when my wife was out. Needless to say I double checked the solder joints, configured the jumpers to be at the lower end of the FM frequency spectrum, plugged it in and it worked first time. I bought an audio switch box, wired this up to the back of my PC and now enjoy glorious synthesized FM stereo throughout my house on anything that I play on the PC, including mouse clicks. The quote that I love from the manual that comes with this FM transmitter is this.
"many Caribbean folks use a single FM25B to cover the whole island! "
Now I have my wife's Christmas present done, the only problem being that, like software, it is not that tangible so I am going to have to supplement it with something else. Also like software it shows that we can create complex solutions to many problems that often have simpler solutions and without having to convert between numerous different data types and formats.
Disclaimer: If you have not built many electronic things before consider a flashing LED first as a Christmas gift to your loved one and then work your way up.