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Dave's Homemade Crystal Radios


Spider Coils Galore

Hello crystal radio fans. Glad you stopped by. I always like telling my story. For those that have passed 50, this story will most likely sound familiar. That is, we are yearning to relive our childhood. Well, for a small sum of money I was able to do the same.

A "crystal set" is a radio receiver that requires no batteries, or household electric current to operate. It has no apparent power supply. I will tell you at the end of this article how this radio gets it's power.

The crystal set was the first radio for broadcast reception. Back then, these radios used a galena crystal (a piece of rock that acted as a semiconductor to recover the audio from radio frequency waves). Since then, the semiconductor diode has replaced the galena in most designs as it is one less thing that the user has to fiddle around with.

Since the crystal set is self powered, headphones are required for listening. This ain't your son's ghetto blaster. The sound is quite faint but still easy to hear.

Seventy Crystal Sets In One Picture

How did I get started in this? In March 2002 I had several customers coming in where I worked expressing a desire to build a crystal set. One was for a school science project. Another was teaching a class in electronics to adults and thought a crystal set might be a good teaching tool. A university customer ordered parts to build over 50 crystal sets. This is all it took for me to get started.

I decided that I wanted to build a series of crystal sets. I wanted to start with a basic model and work my way up the performance ladder. I had built several crystal sets in my teenage years. I used parts that were laying around the house. Having grown up in a "ham radio family", coils, capacitors and diodes were easy to find. This time around, I decided that I would research this and use the best components that I could find.

Crystal Radio Display

On this site I will show you the dozens of crystal radios that I have built. Please note that the radios that I have built and are featured on this site are made without regard to any solid scientific basis. They are built from the mind, the gut and what I find in my junk box or on ebay!

Also, please check out my radios main page. There you can see my tube radio creations and some accessories that I have built. No other web site in the world has more crystal radio projects built by one person. Some people have read every project page, but I believe most of you are not so insane.

The latest update (May 2010) is that I'm restyling parts of my website, including this page. I won't get around to restyling all the pages, as there are over 5000 of them now! If you want a larger version of that picture above of 70 of my sets, download it here. I still have the 64 set version with the 4:3 aspect ratio. File sizes are large.

So, have you figured how this radio gets it's power? No batteries, no ac power plug. The radio stations themselves provide the power to a crystal set.

Happy surfing - Dave - N2DS

Crystal Radio Schematics Only

My Crystal Radio Projects


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Dave's Homemade Crystal Sets 01-08
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Dave's Homemade Crystal Sets 17-24
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Dave's Homemade Crystal Sets 25-32
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Dave's Homemade Crystal Sets 33-40
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Dave's Homemade Crystal Sets 41-48
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Dave's Homemade Crystal Sets 49-56
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Dave's Homemade Crystal Sets 57-64
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Dave's Homemade Crystal Sets 65-72
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Dave's Homemade Crystal Sets 73-80
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Set Listing With Descriptions

# 1   Difficult Rating Image  This is where it all began, people.
# 2   Difficult Rating Image  Spider coil set with two capacitors and tap switch.
# 3   Difficult Rating Image  Australian mystery coil set is a square box. Nice binding posts.
# 4   Difficult Rating Image  Another square box set, two coils.
# 5   Difficult Rating Image  Dual capacitor radio with homemade tap switch.
# 6   Difficult Rating Image  Two dialer in a nice big box. Brass link switches too.
# 7   Difficult Rating Image  Big box with a lid. Just like the old days.
# 8   Difficult Rating Image  Cute set in an 8 sided box. Spider coil.
# 9   Difficult Rating Image  My first shortwave crystal set. Nice and simple.
#10  Difficult Rating Image  Set made with a lot of old buzzard radio parts.
#11  Difficult Rating Image  Remler capacitors, variocoupler, and hidden parts. Nice!
#12  Difficult Rating Image  My old time German look alike crystal set. Hier ist Berlin!
#13  Difficult Rating Image  Simple radio that any scout can build
#14  Difficult Rating Image  Variable coupling all in a nice box.
#15  Difficult Rating Image  Another big box with a great pair of knobs.
#16  Difficult Rating Image  Miller crystal radio clone. Open air coils.
#17  Difficult Rating Image  My first contest entry radio.
#18  Difficult Rating Image  Catwhisker detector radio.
#19  Difficult Rating Image  My first loop crystal set.
#20  Difficult Rating Image  High performance radio with Remler capacitors.
#21  Difficult Rating Image   Bandswitched dual coil set. Labeled in German.
#22  Difficult Rating Image  Simple single coil radio.
#23  Difficult Rating Image  Set with moveable coils. Single or double tuned too.
#24  Difficult Rating Image  A 3 knob one or two circuit radio.
#25  Difficult Rating Image  Back to a simple, proven design. Two tuning capacitors, litz coil.
#26  Difficult Rating Image  Beautiful crystal set with a tube detector. Good fallout shelter radio.
#27  Difficult Rating Image  The "Fidel-o-dyne" Cigar box radio.
#28  Difficult Rating Image  Another DX set. Air and ferrite coil. Hobbydyne set.
#29   Cigar box radio with homemade variable capacitor.
#30  Difficult Rating Image  Beautiful large litz loop crystal set
#31  Difficult Rating Image  007 spy crystal set, hidden in a wooden book. Has a tube detector.
#32  Difficult Rating Image  Nice looking set built in a card box. Unusual spider coil.
#33  Difficult Rating Image  Another litz variable coupling set. Old time looks.
#34  Difficult Rating Image  Triangular art radio.
#35  Difficult Rating Image  My first Über DX set. My 2004 contest entry.
#36  Difficult Rating Image  Simple but decent working CD spider coil set.
#37  Difficult Rating Image  A Telefunken circuit 1920's crystal set. Easy and inexpensive.
#38  Difficult Rating Image  The big triangle set. Another art radio.
#39  Difficult Rating Image  Inspired by the early A-K breadboard radios.
#40  Difficult Rating Image  Inspired by Mae West. "Why don't you tune me sometime." :)
#41  Difficult Rating Image  Large litz set with two beautiful old time vernier tuning dials.
#42  Difficult Rating Image  Radio made for the XSS Newsletter.
#43  Difficult Rating Image  Clear box design of my favorite circuit.
#44  Difficult Rating Image  2 piece radio for builders on a budget.
#45  Difficult Rating Image  First toroid set in a beautiful box!
#46  Difficult Rating Image  Spider coil table top set. Unusual knobs.
#47  Difficult Rating Image  Mystery tuner with a very large litz coil.
#48  Difficult Rating Image  One of my best projects. Nice looking large set.
#49  Difficult Rating Image  Enhanced mystery radio design.
#50  Difficult Rating Image  My 2005 contest set. Deutsche version hier.
#51  Difficult Rating Image  A nice simple well working set.
#52  Difficult Rating Image  This Miller clone has the great look!
#53  Difficult Rating Image  A clear view set with old time capacitors.
#54  Difficult Rating Image  Peanut butter jar radio.
#55  Difficult Rating Image  Beautiful radio with detector stand.
#56  Difficult Rating Image  It ain't litz but sure looks nice!
#57  Difficult Rating Image  Again, my single coil circuit set. Acrylic coil form.
#58  Difficult Rating Image  Shortwave crystal set made with antique transmitter parts.
#59  Difficult Rating Image  A classroom demo pyrite detector crystal set.
#60  Difficult Rating Image  This is a budget dx radio. 3 pieces! Single or dual coil.
#61  Difficult Rating Image  What a beauty this is. Wood box radio with detector stand.
#62  Difficult Rating Image  Art and function all on one chassis.
#63  Difficult Rating Image  Tube and crystal modular radio. 2006 crystal radio contest entry.
#64  Difficult Rating Image  This is my first contra wound coil radio.
#65  Difficult Rating Image  Built with a little help from my friends.
#66  Difficult Rating Image  A.K.A. David's DX Driller. My 2007 Contest entry.
#67  Difficult Rating Image  Simple Radio, single coil, single tuning knob.
#68  Difficult Rating Image  Dual coil DX radio. Twin to #69
#69  Difficult Rating Image  Another DX crystal set. Twin to #68
#70  Difficult Rating Image   My 2008 dx contest entry. This is a big dx radio!
#71  Difficult Rating Image   This is a big dx radio!
#72  Difficult Rating Image   Dave's Easy Tuner.
#73  Difficult Rating Image   DX Radio with new features!
#74  Difficult Rating Image   David's Dual Dial Delight.
#75  Difficult Rating Image   The WAYSALOT.
#76  Difficult Rating Image   Double tuned front end for single knob tuning pleasure.
#77  Difficult Rating Image   Budget DX set with some custom components.
#78  Difficult Rating Image   Budget DX set with a contra coil improvement.


The Difficulty Ratings Explained

My difficulty ratings are a little tongue in cheek and a little serious explanations of how difficult the radio was to build. I based this on how difficult the mechanical building was, special tools needed, and the amount of swearing done. The electrical difficulty was also considered. The amount of circuitry, the test equipment needed to make the set right and the amount of tweaking needed to make it perfect.

The ratings are a comparison of only the radios in this section. Please look over the projects carefully before you attempt to build any of them. Try to reach a little but not too far. I am an experienced builder but it well over a year and a couple of dozen sets before I went whole hog! Here are the ratings:

These sets you can do with your eyes closed. Soldering is required on all my projects. This is a good one for the kids to build.

If the radio is more difficult to build, or there is a little more to the circuit, it earned a medium rating. If you are a good materials worker, this type of radio might be good.

The advanced radios require good mechanical and electronic skills. Signal generators are helpful starting at this level.

If you are a Cadré radio builder, with lots of experience and patience, these are for you! Plan to use test equipment and spend time tweaking this one. My plans get you close, but substituted parts make that small difference.




The detector devil

Thank you for visiting.