1 February 09

Crystal Roots

The tradition of building one’s own equipment is as old as the hobby of radio. Originally this was by necessity, but the tradition still continues, especially in the building of low-power and often quite portable transceivers. I like the notion of going hiking with a rig packed into an Altoids tin and making a Morse Code contact or two with it, so this angle of the hobby appeals to me. There is no shortage of high quality kits to put together as well.

One does have to know how to solder to build these things, which hitherto has been an stumbling block for me, but last weekend I took the plunge and bought a 25-watt soldering iron, and managed to solder a couple of wires onto an RF connector. This weekend I moved onto an actual kit. This was a very simple crystal radio kit put out by The Xtal Set Society. A crystal radio is a very simple radio receiver, quite popular in the early days of broadcast radio in the 1920s, that derives all its power from the energy in the radio wave, no batteries or amplification is involved.

I built the kit pretty quickly yesterday evening, but didn’t manage to hear anything on it last night. So this morning I took it out and tested it with a better antenna and ground. With a bit of tuning, I could hear tinny voices from its special earpiece put well into my ear. Amazing! The radio is unpowered, remember. I was picking up KHTK 1140 AM, a Sacramento sports radio station. I even heard a bit of the Sacramento Kings’ game (not that they are worth listening to for very much this season.) Changing to the lower tuning band of this radio, I also heard KSTE 650 AM, a Sacramento news/talk station.

It’s all quite fun. More kits await me.

Posted by at 08:47 PM in Radio | Link |

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