Crystal Radio Circuits

Posted on Feb 7, 2014

The crystal radio gets its name from the galena crystal (lead sulfide) used to rectify the signals. A `cat`s whisker` wire contact was moved about the surface of the crystal until a diode junction was formed. The 1N34A germanium diode is the modern substitute for galena and most other germanium small-signal diodes will also work well. Silicon diod

Crystal Radio Circuits
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es are not a good choice because their much higher barrier potential requires larger signals for efficient rectification. Certain silicon Schottky diodes with low barrier potential will work well but most small-signal Schottky diodes will not perform as well as a garden-variety germanium diode. The circuit is quite simple but many pitfalls await the novice. The first precaution is most important! The crystal radio works best with a long, high outdoor antenna but the beginner may not fully appreciate the danger of bringing such a wire into the house. Lightning strikes to the antenna will probably destroy the crystal radio but if precautions are not taken, much more damage will result. The best strategy is to incorporate a commercial lightning arrestor with a straight, heavy gauge ground wire leading down to a buried water pipe. It is not sufficient to disconnect the antenna from the receiver during thunderstorms. Other pitfalls are less dangerous and relate to the receiver`s performance. A common mistake when building a crystal radio is to load the tuned circuit excessively. The Q of the tuned circuit must remain high to give selectivity or strong radio stations will all mix together. A good design will usually have low-impedance taps on the inductor for connections to the antenna and diode as shown in the schematic. A long wire antenna with a good ground connection will connect to the lowest impedance tap whereas a shorter...

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