A Homemade Radio

You'll be able to tune in to the airwaves without paying for electricity using this homemade radio.

| March/April 1981

068 homemade radio - boy using radio

A boy using the radio.


I call my homemade radio receiver the "Homestead Radio" because once it's built it can provide entertainment and information indefinitely, with no operating costs. Additionally, it's the ideal receiver to use outdoors—or during emergency situations—anywhere at all... since it eliminates any dependence upon utility company power or batteries.

What's Involved

The Homestead Radio is actually a modified crystal receiver. Such devices, which were common in the 1920's, later gave way to today's more sophisticated instruments that require access to electrical power sources in return for their superiority. In most folks' eyes, the newer units are worth more because they offer selectivity (the degree to which a receiver allows desired signals to be heard and rejects interfering signals) and sensitivity (the ability to amplify weak, distant broadcasts and to "fine-tune in" the nearby stations). But though my homemade unit has neither amplifiers nor selective circuits, it does have the advantage of being able to pick up all the power it requires from the very radio waves it receives!

Furthermore, the few parts needed to build it are usually available at Radio Shack or other electronic equipment supply stores for a cost of $5.00 to $8.00. [EDITOR'S NOTE: 365-pF variable tuning capacitors, which are not always readily available elsewhere, may be ordered from All Electronics Corp.). Write or call for prices.] Better yet, if you can find a "junk" radio or two, you'll probably be able to build the receiver, as I did, from mostly recycled components. Little soldering is necessary to complete the project, and construction time is only about two hours.

Please read all directions before you start building your radio, and don't be concerned if the electrical items you acquire appear a little different from those I describe. As long as the parts match the designations given in the list, their appearance won't make a bit of difference!

Radio Coil Construction

Even though constructing the coil is the most time-consuming portion of this project, it's really not a difficult task. Begin by scrounging up some material to serve as the radio's base (mine is 1/8"-thick fiberboard) and a plastic container of approximately the dimensions suggested in the list of materials (I used a cylindrical pill box).

Remove the cap from the container and center the lid, top down, about 1 inch from one end of the board. Now drill a small hole through both the cap's center and the board, then fasten the two together using a small nut and bolt.

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