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Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Gregorian Chants on a Crystal Radio

Last week I was telling Billy about crystal radios, and I followed-up by digging up the one we built in London. I don't have my really good, HI-Z headphones, but even with fairly LO-Z cans, I could pull Vatican Radio's 1530 kHz signal out of the ether using just a Germanium diode, a coil, a variable cap, and my all-purpose end-fed wire antenna.
I live very close to Vatican City (see above), but I think their AM transmitter is out of town, to the North of Rome. I visited the Wiki on Vatican Radio. Very interesting. Turns out that the Jesuits run the radio stations. Go here for a virtual tour:
It took me a few minutes to hook up the 4 parts of my crystal receiver; it seemed kind of fitting (and a bit eerie) to be rewarded with the faint sound of Gregorian chants.


  1. Wow! That brings back some memories, Bill.

    When I was about 8 or 9 my grandparents gave me a Japanese crystal set in my Christmas stocking. I still vividly remember lying in my bed and tuning in the Dodger baseball games (they'd just moved to L.A.) broadcast by station KOXR (now Spanish language) a few miles from our house. With nothing powering the thing, it all seemed like magic at the time.

    Although the 'rig' wasn't one of the famous 'Rocket' sets, it was unique in that it was shaped like a tiny alien space ship; a plastic, two-inch or so diameter two-toned sphere with three feet to keep it upright and two springy antennae on top with the loopstick adjuster sticking out between them. The aerial was simple chunk of wire maybe three feet long and the earphone was the typical Japanese 'stick-in-the-ear' tan colored crystal job. The round housing separated at the hemisphere, held together by threaded sections on each half.

    Sure wish I'd kept the thing but alas, the set was scrapped during my subsequent forrays into electronic expirementing.

    73 from Oxnard.......Steve Smith WB6TNL

  2. Steve: Checked on ebay and those little space ships are now selling for about $23,000!!!!
    (Just kidding.)
    Surprised they worked with such a short antenna. I just ordered a Hi-Z crystal earphone like the one you describe. 73 Bill


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