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Old 11th September 2019, 11:37 PM   #1
bobberner is offline bobberner  United States
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Another silly question
Default Another silly question

How difficult is it to design an amplifier? I've been looking at plate amplifiers at Parts Express. There seems to be a void in a feature rich 2.1 BT plate amplifier. I'm thinking of something with moderate power, smallish size, BT, and perhaps WiFi (though I don't know how that works) along with 5V usb out to charge a phone, or even take audio signal via the USB while charging.


It doesn't have to be a plate amplifier either. I do like the fact that plate amps do take up any real estate and if you really need any LEDs or indicators they could be mounted remote from the plate, like on the front or top of the cabinet.

This could almost be put together from existing off the shelf parts. there is a lot of inexpensive and probably crappy little things out there, and there is expensive high end stuff. Isn't there a market for mid budget quality components?
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Old 12th September 2019, 03:52 AM   #2
Ian Finch is offline Ian Finch  Australia
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There is a constant stream of new and recycled power amplifier designs turning up here and many would meet the the criteria of mid-fi sound but the inclusion of consumer features you mention, such as a charger circuit and wireless connectivity are really another matter. Designing and producing a PCB to suit the microscopic size digital control circuitry for the features wouldn't be much fun for the majority of us either. 'Better to buy finished, cheap add-on boards for these and treat them as separate projects.

At the end of a DIY approach to building you would probably find the cost and effort of essentially copying existing products isn't worthwhile when you can already buy similar at affordable prices. Just fitting high grade or high price parts does not make a design better when your PCB layout sucks, wiring and assembly is bad or it suffers from speaker vibration, unreliable connectors etc.

Note that BTL amplifiers are not necessarily a good thing. They are just a way to make 2 amplifiers rated for low supply voltages do the work of a larger amp that would need higher voltages and more expensive parts. The downside is that they can't drive low impedance speakers as well as conventional designs so damping factor and power into typical 4-6 ohm speakers will probably be a compromise. 8 ohm speakers are becoming a thing of the past now, despite the labels saying whatever the marketing dept. thinks is cool to tell you so it pays to use power amplifier designs that cope with low impedances easily.
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Old 12th September 2019, 04:40 AM   #3
JMFahey is offline JMFahey  Argentina
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bobberner View Post
How difficult is it to design an amplifier? I've been looking at plate amplifiers at Parts Express. There seems to be a void in a feature rich 2.1 BT plate amplifier. I'm thinking of something with moderate power, smallish size, BT, and perhaps WiFi (though I don't know how that works) along with 5V usb out to charge a phone, or even take audio signal via the USB while charging.
YouŽll need to be a very dedicated University student, probably 5 years for the main Degree and probably 2 or 3 years widening your focus (you are talking Analog + RF + Digital + a couple more areas for what you mention).
Then apprentice at some Factory which designs their own or maybe a Design Studio who does that for third parties who "just want to manufacture and sell".
Besides the purely Electronics side, youŽll have learn to work to a budget, find parts and suppliers, also people who can make the PCB - enclosure - graphics - packaging , etc. and then find a Distributor which will carry it.

Somebody must do some Advertising, either him or you, unless you accept making just commodity level generic stuff, which can be sold under various house brands.

How would I know?
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Old 12th September 2019, 05:56 AM   #4
CBS240 is offline CBS240  United States
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Dedicate efforts towards the amplifier/power supply, don't fret about things that are already done, mass produced, and are cheap. BT is easy. Go to Walmart and get a BT receiver device that is labeled for car use, comes with USB charger, standard 3.5mm audio output jack, cost is $7. Disassemble and remove cheap Chinese lithium battery. Solder bridge momentary switch so it only operates when powered, and reassemble.. Place USB charger after mains power switch.
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Old 12th September 2019, 09:45 AM   #5
DF96 is offline DF96  England
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bobberner
How difficult is it to design an amplifier?
Not too difficult if you are a well-educated electronic engineer and you are not aiming too high in performance. A degree from a reasonable institution might be enough.

If you are starting from scratch then it might take 3-7 years to learn enough, depending on how much maths and physics you already know and how bright you are.

It gets more difficult to design something better, so many people design something worse and then convince themselves that the flaws are actually desirable features.

Or you can just cobble together bits of other people's designs.
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Old 12th September 2019, 09:55 AM   #6
cumbb is offline cumbb
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Quote:
How difficult is it to design an amplifier?
How difficult is it to design an AUDIO-amplifier;-?

...the most do confuse amp and audio-amp; the most do desing an amp, but not an audio-amp;-)
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Old 12th September 2019, 10:08 AM   #7
jan.didden is offline jan.didden  Europe
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Also depends on your definition of 'design'. On one end there's ground up design from scratch, and for that DF96 hit the target well. That's engineering.

Often 'design' is used for the process of cutting and pasting bits and pieces of other people's designs, change a transistor here, a cap there, often for the worse, and proudly announce your 'design'. This requires less knowledge and experience and is a source of great fun for many. Often results are not bad at all.

Jan
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Old 12th September 2019, 12:23 PM   #8
kevinahcc20 is offline kevinahcc20  United States
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Originally Posted by DF96 View Post

It gets more difficult to design something better, so many people design something worse and then convince themselves that the flaws are actually desirable features.
A most succinct summary of the "tweak" branch of DIY Audio!
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Old 12th September 2019, 03:39 PM   #9
PRR is offline PRR  United States
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> This could almost be put together from existing off the shelf parts.

Exactly. And if Parts Express thought they had a void in mid-range feature-rich amps, they would call their Asian suppliers and wish for a product sales-sheet. Scaling an existing product to a specific market size is trivial. BT/USB are tack-on features.

The question is: Can you SELL it?
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Old 12th September 2019, 08:45 PM   #10
rsavas is offline rsavas  Canada
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There seems to be a void in a feature rich 2.1 BT plate amplifier.
Silly in that one needs to define features, costs. I find the chassis/appearance to be the biggest challenge and expense.
Reading Bob Cordell's book is a good place to start. Chapter 4 describes what it takes, but even then it does not address the chassis design.
You design me a chassis, I have power amps designs to trade.

Last edited by rsavas; 12th September 2019 at 08:55 PM.
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