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