Crystal Radios Of The 2009 Contest Entrants
James Gallant, Open Class
Due to a dispute with a former landlord (NOT related to the radio), I lost my previous office, radio loft, and 5 story high, 115 foot long-wire antenna for this year's contest. I also used the same mediocre "throw together" 100/46 Litz wire dual-tuned set that I whipped up last year. I still used my simple Bogen T-725 transformer driving a pair of 1925 vintage Western Electric 509-W headphones. I had to run it all off a long-wire antenna only 20 feet or less off the ground, bent around all over the place to fit my back yard.
Strangely, this year the radio seemed to work FAR better with the antenna (series) matching capacitor moved from the antenna line above the ATU tank, to the ground wire BELOW the ATU tank; most likely due to the vast differences between to two antenna sites used with the set in 2008 and 2009. This gives further evidence of how two different builders with two basically identical sets have been getting different results as to where to put the ATU series capacitor. With the same radio, radically DIFFERENT results, depending on the antenna used).
My only other change was the replacement of the approximately 46K fixed resistor in my "Benny" with a 250K audio taper pot - a noticeable improvement.
I assumed the set performance would be much worse overall than last year, but I was pleasantly surprised. Although it did have poorer overall reception of New England area stations, it did as well or BETTER on DX. In fact, I raised my total station count this year from 62 to 68 stations, with fewer of them being locals (Nashville was my furthest hit, I believe). It raised my points from 42,000 to over 64,000 - a 50% increase. I attribute this to the fact that this is my second contest.
I am getting more capable with the "spotter radio" in identification of stations, as well as hunting stations down on the Crystal Set after first isolating them with the spotter. Hopefully for next year I will have a 660/46 Litz “dream set” hooked up to a nice set of SP phones and a decent 30 foot high, 50 foot long 4-wire flat top antenna squeezed into my yard. My overall goal is fairly modest. Massachusetts is notoriously BAD for crystal radio DX. The glaciers in the last ice age pushed billions of tons of our topsoil down into the Atlantic Ocean south of Connecticut. As a result of this, we have poorer and less efficient grounds than other regions.
Assuming a 450 mile average maximum DX "listening circle" for the average set, over half of MY circle here in coastal Massachusetts is to my east, over the wide open empty ocean. If I can ever manage to break a 100 station level count, I will consider that winning my own personal gold medal!
James D Fletcher, Hobby Class
I built the MRL No. 2A "Long Distance Crystal Set" from plans I got from Mr. Elmer G. Osterhoudt. I used parts from what I had on hand and wound the coil on PVC pipe. This was in 1979 and my oldest son was 10 years old, so this was a project we worked on together and gave him some practical experience he still uses today.
I put the works in a 8" x 5" oak file box that office supply stores used to sell. I use a type "C" Baldwin headset that really makes a difference compared to regular headsets. This is the same set that I used in the 2008 Contest.
Lem Morrison, Open Class
I used the same set that I have used in the last several contests, but did change out one of the coils. This year there was not much time to work on the contest, since I was getting ready for a mission trip to Honduras. This is part of the "Happy Feet" ministry to supply shoes to needy children. Four bucks buys a pair of shoes for a needy child.
(Editor's note: if anyone is interested in helping out with this ministry, drop me a note, and I will forward it to Lem. Thanks, Jack)
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