Build radio yourself

Radio waves surround us since more than 100 years, we have a construction manual from the early days of the radio for you: With a so-called detector receiver Walk in the footsteps of radio pioneers of the 1920s. Unlike current receivers, the device needs no power, and the structure is very simple and easy to produce even by electronic lay people.

We'll show you how to build a simple detector receiver and listen to the widths of mid and shortwave.

Schematic of detector receiver

Build radio yourself: radio

Schematic of detector receiver

Tinker materials to the radio


  • 1 wooden board, about 15 x 25 cm
  • 2 toilet paper rolls
  • 13 meters of copper wire strand (for medium wave reception (MW))
  • 3.5 meters copper wire strand (for shortwave reception (KW))
  • 10-20 meters of copper wire for the antenna
  • a 150 p-turn capacitor
  • a DS-60 diode
  • 8 banana plugs
  • 8 banana sockets
  • 1 high-impedance headphones


  • soldering iron
  • solder
  • Absisolierzange
  • side cutter
  • Hot glue gun
  • small steel nails
  • hammer

All items can be ordered well Electronics stores refer - of course except for the toilet paper roll. As a strand are also excellent old speaker cables.

The antenna cable does not have to be stripped: The radio waves do not care much for the insulation. However, no metal should be in between - antenna cable with shielding is therefore unsuitable!

Winding the coils

The radio waves, coming from the ether, are amplified by the coil. The coil is wound differently depending on the intended receiving range.

Become in our detector receiver two coils used: Wrap one coil each 100 turns for the medium wave range and a coil with 25 turns for the shortwave range with the copper wire around the toilet paper rolls. Fix the ends of the strand with a drop of hot glue on the roll, but allow about 8 cm of wire to protrude.

At the ends of each strand a banana plug, depending on the design of the plug, soldered or screwed.

Install coil, ground and antenna on the board

As shown in the circuit diagram, now the switching elements must be installed: First, top and bottom of the coil (left) two banana sockets attached, here is the coil used later.

Behind it, connected and soldered with a short piece of wire, connects the banana plug for the antenna socket. Below, the same structure is being built for grounding. The banana sockets are each glued to the board with hot glue.

Connect diode and variable capacitor

To the right of the coil section, a wire is now drawn to the right side of the tabletop: A jack for the headphones is attached to the upper right corner. Also on the lower side, a wire is pulled, which also ends in a socket.

The wires are now soldered to the short wires on the left and right of the coil. The diode is inserted into the upper wire in the direction of flow.

The last thing to do is glue the rotary capacitor between the two wires and connect it to the top and bottom of the diode with the two headphone cables and solder it.
Thus the detector receiver is finished after classic model!

Use detector receiver

  • Wait for the night. The mid- and short-wave reception is considerably better at night due to the light radiation in the ionosphere.
  • Depending on the desired reception range, first insert the MW coil or KW coil into the detector receiver.
  • Then the antenna must be connected to the antenna socket and then set up as far as possible outdoors. The longer the antenna, the better the reception. Pay attention to the weather conditions: Lightning strikes in the antenna were at the Radiopionieren the biggest risk!
  • Then the ground connection is connected to a faucet or to the heater - never to ground the socket! Now the receiver is ready for use.

By turning the knob of the rotary capacitor now takes the vote. Do not expect too much: A precise tuning and selectivity of the transmitters depends very much on your catchment area and the materials used. Building a functioning radio is also a matter of experience.

Yet, in the headphones, you will almost certainly, though vaguely and perhaps confusedly, perceive "the voices of the ether" - much as your great-grandfather did over 100 years ago.

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