Crystal Radio
stay tuned crystal radio and tube radio website
crystal set

Build A Crystal Radio
for the "Beginner"

Radio #1

Photos of completed radio at the bottom of this page.

Crystal Radio simple

You will need the following items

1   Quaker Oats box (4" Diameter size)

1   Mounting Board (Wood)

1   100 foot spool of #24 or #22 solid plastic insulated wire 
      Ocean State Electronics   Part No. HWS24BK-100
      Radio Shack    278-1224  (also in store)

1   Germanium Diode 1n34, 1n34a, 1n60 etc.
      Ocean State Electronics   Part No. 1N34A
      Antiques Electronic Supplies   P-Q972 
      Dan's Small Parts and Kits
      Computer Controlled Automation

1   47K resistor 1/4 or 1/2 watt
      Ocean State Electronics   Part No. RQ47K
      Antiques Electronic Supplies   R-A47K
      Radio Shack    271-1342  (also in store)
      Dan's Small Parts and Kits

1   alligator clip
      Ocean State Electronics   Part No. 269B
      Antiques Electronic Supplies   S-H301-103

<>1   Ceramic Hi Impedance Earphone
     (Please remember: A earphone or headphones or "ear buds" from Radio
      etc will not work.  They must be Ceramic "HI Impedance" earphone. NOT the
      kind used on transistor radios)

      Ocean State Electronics   Part No. CE748
      Antiques Electronic Supplies   P-A480
      Computer Controlled Automation

4   Fahnestock Clips (You could use a machine screw up through the bottom of the board
     and a nut. Then a knurled nut or another nut to tighten the wires down.
      Ocean State Electronics   Part No. 2090
      Antiques Electronic Supplies   S-H11-4034

All the parts can be purchased at Ocean State Electronics



Take the Quaker Oats container (empty of coarse) and on the open side, come down about a 1/2" and poke two holes (careful). Poke the wire through the right hole and back through the second hole like shown below at the top. Pull about a foot of wire out. On the inside of the oats box, place a piece of tape on the wire and the two holes. This will keep the wire from slipping out.

Wrap 5 turns of wire around the oats box and make a "tap". See the illustration below on how to make a tap. Twist the wire a couple of times and remove the insulation at the twist (see below).

Continue making wraps and every 5 turns make a tap until you get to 40 turns.

At 40 turns, poke two holes next to the last turn of wire. Cut the wire off the spool of extra wire about a foot long. Poke the wire into the first hole and back out the second hole. Place a piece of tape on the inside like on the top. This will keep the wire tight on the oats box.

You now have your coil wound like in the illustration below.

sciencfair crystal radio

The rest is just assembly and wiring to look like the illustration below. 

You will need an antenna and ground. 

The antenna can be any wire covered or bare, as high and long as possible. Make sure you don't get around electrical wires for your safety and the performance of the radio.  Also don't let the antenna "ground out" to trees or the earth (ground). You can make insulator (see below) from plastic water pipe or couplings.

Please don't leave this antenna up during lightning storms!

crystal radio antenna

The ground can be made by connecting to a water pipe, or to a metal rod pounded into the ground (at least 2 feet deep).

Hook it all up and put the alligator clip somewhere in the middle. You should hear something!

beginners crystal radio

If you have problems with your set when it is done,
please try the "Troubles" page by Clicking Here

Want to "Do It Fast"?

(To see if it works?)

Go buy some alligator test leads at Radio Shack

 24" (60.9cm) Insulated Test/Jumper Leads  Catalog #: 278-1157
14" (35.3cm) Insulated Test/Jumper Leads   Catalog #: 278-1156

Leads on test leads are shown shorter. Color does not matter.

Find a water pipe to hook the ground to. String a 100' piece of wire in the air as high as possible
Remember to not let the antenna wire ground off to things like trees or bushes.

simple oatsbox crystal radio

Have Some Photos Of Your Set You built?

Please send them in so others can see it can be done!
Email address is at the bottom of the page.
Don't have a digital camera or scanner, email me and I can do that for you.
Please click on the photos to enlarge them.

Dave Boudreau

dave boudreau 1dave boudreau 2

dave boudreau 3
This great looking set was made by Dave Boudreau.
He's using a short antenna strung across the inside of the garage for right now and it works great!
Also he substituted magnet wire for insulated wire (that's perfectly OK!)

Wayne's Set
Wayne's first attempt at building a radio!
Very nice radio!!


Crystal Radio
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