Since I’m still waiting for a few more parts to finish the WSG (they shipped today, at least) I decided to build something else in the meantime. Something that would be useful with or without the WSG. I decided to build the "Crackerbox" amplifier (aka the Little Gem) as seen in Make #9.
I have heard that others who have tried to build this circuit have failed. I found it to be quite simple. Amazingly, it worked the first time that I hooked up the battery. A pleasant surprise, to say the least. Sure, the sound was a little tinny, but I was using a speaker that I found in a fax machine. It sounded quite a bit better when I hooked it up to an orphaned stereo speaker.
Other folks have said that the "$5" in the title of the article is misleading. I agree to a point. I couldn’t find the 25-ohm rheostat anywhere but Radio Shack, and that alone had to have cost around $3. I went to Fry’s for three other parts and spent about $5 .there also. If I had gone to a real electronics shop, I’m guessing that I probably could have got the pots for about $1.00 each, the chip for maybe $0.50, and the resistors and capacitors for something like $0.10 each. I don’t know if I could have got a battery, battery clip, and speaker for $2, but I suppose it’s possible. So yes, it’s not a $5 amp if you shop at a chain, and especially not if you shop at Radio Shack.