Crystal Radio Resources 

Providing a "pretty good set" of resources and ideas for the crystal radio enthusiast

  By Owen Pool  WB4LFH

(Latest site update:24 Oct 06)

XSDX 2007 - The Ninth Annual Crystal Radio DX Contest
 Also Dates for The 1AD and next Sprint contest
XSDX 2006 - The Eighth Annual Crystal Radio DX Contest

XSDX 2005 - The Seventh Annual Crystal Radio DX Contest
Also see the results of the "one-tuber" contest
XSDX 2004 - The Sixth Annual Crystal Radio DX  Contest
(here are my logs)
XSDX 2003 - The Fifth Annual Crystal Radio DX Contest Results
 Here are my logs
XSDX 2002 - The Fourth Annual Crystal Radio DX Contest Results
XSDX 2001 - the Third Annual Crystal Radio DX Contest Results
2000 Crystal Radio DX Contest Lessons Learned   13 Aug 00
1999 Crystal Radio DX Contest Lessons Learned 8  Sep 99
Here are my 2000 Logs (#2 in Open Class, #1 in Hobby Class
My 2001 Logs HERE
This is my 2002 log
  2001 Xtal Set Building Contest

 Some really nice looking sets.

     My introduction to crystal radios was in the early '50s when I received a Cub Scout crystal set with a slide tuning coil and a galena detector.  I built a couple more after that,  using both the 1000 ohm single headset and the receiver from a telephone handset.  I also got, for 25 cents, another galena crystal from an outfit which I think was called R.L. Allen, which brought with it a nice little booklet with a variety of crystal set plans.  Life got in the way after I reached puberty, and I pretty much forgot about crystal sets for the next 40 years or so.
        I found my way back into crystal radios in 1996, right after I finally broke down and got a "dumputer", and started looking for web resources I could use with my physics students.  First, I resurrected my almost extinct ham ticket and then started building crystal radios-my first attempt was the Oatbox Radio from plans the Xtal Set Society posts-had so much fun with it that I got my physics students to build them, and am still at it.   This site reflects the stuff I have learned and relearned, and also lists the resources I found on the web that might be useful to you as well.
(updated 7 Mar 01)

How they work - a brief explanation

A First Crystal Set for the Kid (in you) - a nice starter project using the Radio Shack Crystal Radio - no soldering required.  A good alternative to the Oatbox.

(1 Jan 02)

Some thoughts, tips, and resources

The Project Crystal Radio
(updated 23 Nov 00)

How about a low cost entry into this neat hobby?  Here is a series of radio  building projects using a minimum of low cost components, in which everything is 100 % recyclable for the next project.  Start with a simple oatbox radio and continue on to a set capable of real dx performance.

Off The Shelf
(25 June 03)
A real DX crystal set for the beginner using readily available parts
Part two now posted (4 July 03)

(updated 4 June 01)

Here is a neat little tuned rf radio that needs no antenna, but really pulls them in.  Uses a single 3 lead IC.

(26 Nov 00)

    This is a nice little flexible one transistor set that lets you get away with cruddy phones, short antennas, non-critical construction, and a very few cheap parts.  I think this one is a great low-effort set for kids of all ages, and loads of fun for further experimenting.

( 22 NOV 00 )

        A simple (4 more parts) modification to the MK 484 receiver for real dx, and still no outside antenna.

Try a Little Shortwave Listening
(updated 21 Jan 02)
    Here is a simple shortwave receiver with enough fun and variations to keep you going for awhile. Good kid radios when you haven't got any locals.  Includes a "convertible" version.

Some more of my efforts
(16 Mar 01)

If you're tired of trying to "tune" the Oatbox Radio , try modifying it to the Peanut Special   or the Peanut Special II .

If you need to add a little oomph to your crystal set, here is a very simple amplifier, using only 3 parts, a switch, and a battery clip.  I've incorporated it into a crystal set my students build and it is selectable between crystal detector mode and "triode" detector/amplifier mode.  I call the rig the Convertible Crystal Radio. (with pix)

    Add just two (yes two) parts and a little wire to the Convertible and you get the Superconvertible - from xtal set to a hot regenerative receiver with the flip of a switch.  Also shown is a straight regenerative receiver which is about as simple as it gets.   Then go look at an even simpler one , courtesy of WN6Q.

On a nostalgia trip?  Here is some stuff I have done with "Sliders" - slide coil tuning.

For those days when you're not hearing anything, or your antenna broke and you're reduced to a hank of wire strung around the room, you might try this RF Signal Booster in front of your crystal set.

Looking for a new design for the hobby class in the next dx contest, I came up with this single (?) tuned  xtal set.   It is my best effort yet for sensitivity and selectivity using one knob tuning, and is even good for dx without a separate antenna tuner. (but it's not what I ended up with for the contest)

    A mineral detector stand anyone can build; used this one in the listening contest.

  Construction Tips
(updated 17 Aug 02)
Or rather, how do make do on parts and other stuff you probably know about already
With  pix of a set and detector stands for rocks, all home/handmade

Coil Calculations
 (24 June 03)
A not ready for prime time (couldn't get it published) article on how to
do the calculations for winding "optimum" coils

Operating With Efficiency
Antennas and tuning (13 Jan  02) DX Tips (18 Mar 00) Wave Traps   (13 Feb 01)
  Bandspreading (20 June 99)    Experimenting (17 Sep 00)       Testing (15 Dec  01)

 Questions and Comments
Things I'm working on, would like to do, or what other people tell me.  Anything you send me might go here.
updated 28 Feb 04

Kit Reviews
Radio Shack  '99 model   xtal set
Technokits Crystal Radio Kit
MaxitronixMX-901 xtal set
If you have built a kit, I'll be happy to post a review of it here
updated 18 Feb 02

Links and other Resources
Things found while surfing the web.  Plans, instructions, tutorials, and where to find stuff.
updated 18 Jan 06

You got Questions?  Or Answers?...
Try out these two sites for amateur "rockhead" scientists: more listed on my links page
  Yahoo! Groups : thecrystalsetradioclub - one of the Yahoo clubs, and a great place to talk to the pros.  Email Paul to join in. You need a Yahoo! account to join.
Rap 'n Tap Discussion Group where anyone can post comments or questions, such as "where are the batteries in this radio?", and "why doesn't this sucker work?", and get 4 responses, all different.  Courtesy of the Xtal Set Society.  A new mailing list/discussion group.  Log in and give it a try.

This is a no longer a very active web site, but  I  add to it over time as something new pops up; sometimes I even change my recommendations if I learn something new. If you have any of your own ideas, links to add, questions, comments, or what have you, drop me a line.


© 2000-2009 O.Pool