Sunday, January 25, 2009

Postcard Crystal Radio - Station X

My buddy got back from visiting Westminster Abbey and Kings College not too long ago an upon his return brought me a gift. Namely, a "Make your own Postcard Radio" from "Station X". I have had it sitting on my desk for quite some time now, in the box, undisturbed... Tonight, I decided to whip it out and slap it together.

It comes in a small cardboard box. When you open it up, there is a small bag containing the components and a pamphlet that has a detailed description of the device.

The pamphlet gives you a run-down on how it functions and how to assemble it. This all makes me feel like a kid again :-) You should be able to zoom in on the photo a bit to read it (if you're interested).

On to the assembly, first thing I had to do was remove the bread board and slap on some stickers. Back in the day, one would have made this device using an actual postcard... now in 2008/9 we use environmentally friendly, cost-effective PCBs :-) This is what it looks like pre-assembly.

You have to slap on a postcard sticker, to give it that 1930/40's look... There's four leads exposed for earth, antenna and earphones.

So, what else is in the box? Let me take a quick step back and show the details below. You have the now-postcard-sticker'd bread board, four alligator clips, two wires (one for antenna one for earth), a microphone and a tuner.

Next step of the instructions was to attach all the alligator clips... See my brilliant work below:

Not much else to it, so let's make some noise! This is a shot of the unit fully assembled and prepared for use. Notice, my earth lead is not hooked up yet and my antenna is sitting up in a bundle on the desk... not ideal operating conditions.... So, let's get this show on the road!

Here, you can see the unit set up for operating conditions. Earth lead is attached to the metalic leg of my desk via alligator clip. The antenna was propped up in the blinds and is actually hanging down on the other side (which you can't see very well).

It took about 10 second to get tuned in to a station (note: it was 20:54 local time (GMT-5) during testing). Here's a picture of one happy Joe and his crystal radio during its first test.

I was able to tune into 1030AM and get some reasonably good reception. I used a portable am/fm headset to determine the station. Brace yourself, you are about to experience the world of crystal radio live!


Ok, you may now return from the edge of your seat. I did a little search into the source of the radio and came across this site. The site appears to have a rather diverse selection of educational materials. Awesome.

So, how do I rate it? I give it a 10 out of 10. I'd highly recommend it for kids who want to get into radio or adults who just love to have interesting stuff sitting around. I'll definitely be leaving this device by my desk, most likely pinned up on the wall... since it does make an excellent conversational piece.

1 comment:

David said...

That is REALLY cool! How about a companion Ham transmitter? 73 - Dave NM0S