When I was growing up I didn’t know anyone involved in amateur radio.  Had I met someone to elmer me I suppose my formative years may have turned out differently.  One of the things we did have were CBs and walkie talkie’s.  I remember playing with them as a kid with my brother and my parents.  My brother and I would run around with the walkie talkie’s in the yard.  Dad would sit in the truck on this CB and Mom would sit at the base CB in the house.  Of course we all had handles to call each other.  Just like Dukes of Hazzard or any good trucker show.  I thought I wanted to be a truck driver just like  BJ McKay and his best friend Bear for many years.  Sometimes we’d caravan down to the cabin and talk on the CBs in the pickup trucks and Uncle Bill’s Blazer.  Ah the good old days of the late ’70s and early ’80s.

While my granddad wasn’t a ham he was a collector (or maybe accumulator would be a better term) of random and interesting cool stuff.  After I finally got my General Class license and earned my HF privileges he gave me a J-38 hand key he’d picked up somewhere.  I’ve even used it to make  a few contacts on the air.  One of the other cool things I got from him was a crystal radio set.  From the best I can remember he must’ve built it pre-1930s.  I think maybe he was between age 10-13.  I remember he had bell wire strung up back and forth in his parent’s attic for an antenna, and he’d lay the headphones in a big dish to help amplify the sound as he listened to it in the evening.  At the family Christmas party my grandma said the thought he built it not long after the first person in their community purchased a radio.  She remembers going with her dad on one of her brothers to hear it.  It was the first time she had ever heard “radio.”

When I was a kid we tried to get the crystal radio working.  I’d found it on a shelf in the basement.  No matter how we arranged the wires it never made a peep.  As I look at it now and compare it with some schematics on the web I can see why…it’s obviously missing some vital parts and connections.  I searched around some on the web and think I found some plans that are similar enough they may get me in the ballpark.  You can check them  out here.  I think I’ll take it all apart and clean it up.  I really want to restore it and make it work.  It’s pretty dusty and grungy but I think I can clean it all up.  I know it’s missing some  pieces but I think I can get it connected in such a way as it retains a period look of the era in which it was built.  I think it’ll be a fun project and maybe I can even interest my boys in free radio that requires no batteries.

Crystal set2

Categories: Amateur Radio | 2 Comments

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  1. That is going to be cool to get your granddad’s old crystal set working.
    You gotta check out this page of crystal radios!
    There are several projects you can click on from “easy” to “advanced”. Very cool!
    73! de Nick N9SJA

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