Bookmark Us

Read Articles:

The Benefits of Inflatable Fishing Boats
Fly Fishing Gift Ideas – Christmas Presents
Introduction To Fishing
Fishing Equipment And Accessories
What you need to know about deep fishing.
Eel And Eelskin Lures
Fly Fishing Journals – Keep Track of Your Trips
Fly Fishing Gifts for Christmas
Fit The Fishing Rod To The Fishing Task
Fishing By Moon Phase: Increase Your Catch
Bamboo Fly Fishing Rods
Fly Fishing Rods – Getting The Bends
Grunion Runs – Fishing With Your Hands In San D...
Fly Fishing On The Green River - Paradise Lost
Fly Fishing – I Know Knot What I Do
Fly Fishing in Russia
Golf and Fishing what have they in common
Tying Fly Fishing Flies – The Frankenstein Fly
Fly Fishing – Catch and Release Yourself
Halloween Fly Fishing - The Ultimate Bite
Communications Equipment in the Wilderness
Fishing the Fall Salmon Run in Michigan - A Beg...
Fly Fishing - In Search of the Chase
Why We Do It The Motives and Types of Fall Sa...
Outdoors Gifts
Inflatable Pontoon Boats
Rigid Inflatable Boats
Inflatable Boats: An Overview
Surface Fishing Twitch Baits - 101
Fishing Reels 101 - Part 1
What you need to know about - Camping Vacations
Colorado Fly Fishing – Bait Huckin' vs. Fly Fis...
Bird Watching Competitions – I Spy With My Litt...
Sunglasses 101
Nitro Powered RC Cars - Tips for Choosing Your ...
Have Fun With Nature: How To Play Conkers
Skydiving training methods
Get The Most Out Of Your Camera. (Part 1).
6 Winning Strategies Guaranteed to Improve Your...
Bird Watching – Writing What You See
Dirt Bike Racing
Unique Camping Gift Ideas for Christmas
The Kenshiro Abbe 50th Celebrations
Kayaking Gifts for Christmas
The History of Steeplechase Horse Racing
Creating a Baseball Fantasy League
The Irony Of Michael Owen
How To Skyrocket Your Chances Of Winning The Lo...
The Basics of Chess
What you need to know about rodeos
4 Steps to Sure-Fire Basketball Free Throws
The Beauty of an Abstract Painting
Why Go Gold Panning?
Gambling legality basics
Unique Backpacking Christmas Gift Ideas for Bac...
Downloading free audio books or buying other au...
Mountain biking in Bali's Mount Batur
Where To Get Your Martial Arts And Self Defense...
How to choose your road bike
How to Increase Your Fish keeping Fun
Motorcycle's Fatal Crash Formula
Sports Massage - An Introduction
Crystal Radio Sets are Alive and Kicking
Croquet is Cool
San Diego Beach Hikes – Cardiff to Carlsbad
Mountain Croquet
Online shopping for bike accessories
Backyard Croquet
The Gwynne Jones Misleading Article in MartialA...

Crystal Radio Sets are Alive and Kicking

Crystal Radio Sets are Alive and Kicking

I was brought up under strict conditions. Bedtime was at a certain rigid time every night. Lights out meant no reading; it meant sleep. It certainly did not include listening to radio broadcasts.

But as a child of thirteen, I discovered the delights of thecrystal set. It was a frustrating affair. The workings of ithave remained a complete mystery. How, I wondered then, could a lump of gray mineral possibly capture radio waves and do so without a battery?

Now, several decades later, the answers are easy to find on the Internet – here I quickly discover that crystal sets, and the parts to make them, are readily available today – even though they look vastly different from the crude thing I had. In comparison, today’s look…well…positively modern.

To my amazement, according to Google there are 81,200 pages that contain the phrase “crystal set”.

There is even The Xtal Set Society which says it is "dedicated to once again building and experimenting with radio electronics.” It advertises books, parts and kits. One kit is called the Quaker Oat Box Radio Pack. It contains one roll of 24-gauge hook-up wire (100 feet), one germanium diode, one 47,000-ohm resistor, one alligator clip, and one crystal earplug. Sounds just about as basic as my old set…but I don’t remember the otherinstructions that come with this kit: “You will need to provide your own antenna wire and oatmeal box.”

The advertised price is $8.95. Do some reverse inflationcalculations and you will know better than I now remember roughly how much I paid for my set back in 1947. Any money I had in those days was ‘earned’ by not spending my lunch money at school, so I know the set I had was dirt-cheap.

Radio Shack sells starter kits too. Describing a project for“beginning experimenters” at one reviewer said “the Radio Shack crystal radio kit Cat. No. 28-178 is a pretty fair starter set. It does work, and some simple modifications will enhance its performance.” When he wrote four years ago, the price was $9.99. After some modifications, which he describes, he was able to listen to New York, Netherlands Antilles, Cuba, Charlotte NC, Chicago, “and a few others”. What a difference acoil of wire for an antenna makes!

For some fascinating photographs, you might want to take a look at With their knobs and dials for tuning in a favorite station they make me positively envious!

There was no simple method for tuning my set. I remember there was a contact of some sort, and that by moving this minuscule distances across the crystal you could, with much patience, tune in a radio station. Usually, it was faint. Fiddle with the contact and the signal would be lost and found again many timesbefore a signal strong enough to enjoy came in. And it would often disappear in the middle of a show for no obvious reason.

“He aims and fires, but he misses…and that was his last bullet. The killer reaches for him, the axe raised in his other hand, and …” fizzle, crackle, silence. Mutter, mutter (the latter being me)!

Now I understand I needed to pay much more attention to installing a good antenna – a 50-foot piece of wire outside the house and as high as possible – and that I needed a good ground. But as a 13-year-old, I simply wanted to listen under the bed covers in the dark to my favorite radio thriller.

It almost didn’t matter what the program was. Each had the compelling signature music, sometimes just single musical notes, the voices with their sense of urgency, the suspense, the climax, the scripting formula. I also remember the screech of car tires in chase scenes. It was pretty gripping stuff for a small boy.

Remember how shoes were always soled in hard leather? Rubber didn’t make enough noise. Doors always squeaked; silent ones would not have been much use on radio. And do I remember correctly that detectives were always men and that secretaries were always women?

Today, when I recall those days long ago, I remember the crystal radio set with its finicky connection that would fade to almost nothing at the crucial point in the story. Then it would come back just as the announcer was saying something like: “So long! See you next week.”

This article is also available as a .pdf file at the following url:

(c) Ned Norris. This article can be reprinted, used in newsletters or on web pages as long as it is credited to Ned Norris of, it appears in its entirety and the resource box below is included.

Travel back in time to a land where classic old time radio shows live-on to be enjoyed once more by young and old. RUSC is an Aladdin's Cave of classic radio broadcasts for you to download and listen to at your leisure.

Copyright © 2016 - Free Outdoors Articles. All Rights Reserved.