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George Smith (Mthe2nd)
New member
Username: Mthe2nd

Post Number: 1
Registered: 1-2007
Posted on Thursday, January 18, 2007 - 7:16 pm:   Edit PostDelete PostView Post/Check IPPrint Post   Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only)Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Hey, everybody. I recently came across this site while searching for a good first electronics project, and it seems to be perfect for my needs. I decided to build the laser communicator, and the instructions were comprehensive enough even for this electronics newbie. However, I am having a small problem.

I believe the transmitter works, since when I talk into the microphone attached to the amplifier the bicolor surge protector LED shines. However, when I point the laser onto the tiny silicon solar panel (from your catalog), I get no noise at all no matter how high the amplifier (Radioshack # 277-1008) is turned up. The cable connecting these is Radioshack # 42-2434. I am quite certain the problem lies in the way I attach the two wire leads to the solar cell. I have tried taping them on in various positions as suggested with the piezoelectric earpiece in the instructions, but it does not seem to work with the amplifier. I have also tried connecting the leads to the cell with alligator clips. What is the proper way to make the connection? Do I need to solder? Will it work with this cell, or should I use the one from Radioshack suggested in the guide?

Thanks so much!
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Simon Quellen Field (Sfield)
Senior Member
Username: Sfield

Post Number: 1620
Registered: 12-2004
Posted on Friday, January 19, 2007 - 10:11 am:   Edit PostDelete PostView Post/Check IPPrint Post   Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only)Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Use a voltmeter to see if the cell is producing current in the light
and not producing it in the dark. If you see the meter change from
close to zero to over 0.4 volts, then your connections are OK.

If you are using a piezoelectric earphone, there is one other consideration.
The piezoelectric earphone may have received a static electric charge
that locks it up. Dropping it onto a hard surface from about 6 inches
will generate enough electricity in the element to uncharge the device
and make it sensitive again.
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George Smith (Mthe2nd)
New member
Username: Mthe2nd

Post Number: 2
Registered: 1-2007
Posted on Friday, January 19, 2007 - 5:38 pm:   Edit PostDelete PostView Post/Check IPPrint Post   Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only)Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Unfortunately, I do not have a voltmeter. When I hooked it up to a milliamp meter, however, it was at 0.

I am assuming the connection does not work, so could you explain how to connect the cable (Radioshack # 42-2434) to the solar cell (either the one in your catalog or the one they sell at Radioshack)?

Thanks for the fast reply!
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Simon Quellen Field (Sfield)
Senior Member
Username: Sfield

Post Number: 1622
Registered: 12-2004
Posted on Friday, January 19, 2007 - 5:52 pm:   Edit PostDelete PostView Post/Check IPPrint Post   Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only)Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

The solar cell has a top side and a bottom side.
The bottom side is all metal.
Tape one wire to that side.

The top side has a strip of metal on one edge, and some thin fingers of
metal extending from it across the cell.

Tape another thin wire to the front side of the cell, so that it touches
only the metal on the top of the cell, at the edge.

Make sure the two wires do not touch one another.
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George Smith (Mthe2nd)
New member
Username: Mthe2nd

Post Number: 3
Registered: 1-2007
Posted on Saturday, January 20, 2007 - 7:19 pm:   Edit PostDelete PostView Post/Check IPPrint Post   Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only)Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Thanks so much! It must take a lot of dedication to monitor these forums so often. I really appreciate the work you do. This was a really great project, and it has really inspired me to continue working with electronics. Last question - do you know of any other sites with good ideas for do-it-yourself electronics?
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Simon Quellen Field (Sfield)
Senior Member
Username: Sfield

Post Number: 1623
Registered: 12-2004
Posted on Sunday, January 21, 2007 - 2:13 pm:   Edit PostDelete PostView Post/Check IPPrint Post   Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only)Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Google is your friend.
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George Smith (Mthe2nd)
Junior Member
Username: Mthe2nd

Post Number: 4
Registered: 1-2007
Posted on Monday, January 22, 2007 - 10:20 pm:   Edit PostDelete PostView Post/Check IPPrint Post   Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only)Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

K, thanks again.

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