a "pretty good set" of resources and ideas for the crystal
By Owen Pool WB4LFH
(Latest site update:24 Oct
XSDX 2007 -
The Ninth Annual Crystal Radio DX Contest
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 2001 - the Third Annual Crystal Radio DX Contest Results
2000 Crystal Radio DX Contest
Lessons Learned 13 Aug 00
Here are my 2000 Logs (#2 in Open Class, #1 in Hobby
2001 Xtal Set Building Contest
Some really nice looking
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
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
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
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.
GETTING STARTED IN CRYSTAL
(updated 7 Mar 01)
How they work - a
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
OH NOOO, IT'S TIME FOR A SCIENCE FAIR!
(1 Jan 02)
Some thoughts, tips, and resources
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.
(25 June 03)
A real DX crystal set for the beginner using readily available parts
Part two now posted (4 July 03)
THE MK 484 RECEIVER
(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.
AN AUDION RECEIVER
(26 Nov 00)
This is a nice little
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.
MK 484 FOR MORE DX
( 22 NOV 00 )
simple (4 more parts) modification to the MK 484 receiver for real dx,
and still no outside antenna.
Try a Little Shortwave
(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
set, here is a very simple amplifier, using only 3 parts, a switch, and
battery clip. I've incorporated it into a crystal set my students
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.
(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
(24 June 03)
A not ready for prime time (couldn't get it published) article on how
do the calculations for winding "optimum" coils
Antennas and tuning (13
Jan 02) DX Tips (18 Mar 00) Wave
Traps (13 Feb 01)
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
Radio Shack '99 model
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
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
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
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