Credit card crystal radio

What do you think about the feasibility of a credit card sized crystal radio? (Fits inside a wallet) Some possible i though so far are... A simple pcb with a diode, and a capacitor and a coil wrapped(protected by duct tape) around it. The antenna has to be tied to a hole on a corner. Or it is coiled to the card, ready to be unwrapped. The ear piece can either be external... Or can be glued to the card itself, but you must put the card near you ear... Instead of a winded coil, maybe it can be part of the pcb design itself... and to tune it, you unhook a beady wire and place it in the holes placed in a interval. What do you think? Any more ideas? In fact. a competition can be made for this idea.

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dcripe6 years ago

Here is one that looks pretty good. The coil is a spiral trace on a PCB. Antenna, ground and earphone connect using alligator clips.

73 Dave NM0S
LasVegas10 years ago
The size of the coil necessary for a simple unpowered crystal radio would be too large to fit on a credit card. What I'd suggest is that you search Google for a simple transistor radio circuit. With modern components you may be able to squeeze something like that on a credit card sized board.
gmoon LasVegas10 years ago
I dunno about this one, LV. Like a lotta kids, I built a xtal set w/ a germanium diode. The coil was wrapped around a toilet paper tube. But I don't think it had so many courses that it couldn't work on a credit card size form (especially if very fine wire were used.) I think this one might be worth a go... But if I recall correctly, the antenna length was pretty hefty...
Goodhart gmoon10 years ago
The coil is only half the problem, the antenna has to be substantial too if I remember correctly. I had to stretch over 50 ft of wire across my back yard to get anything decent (unless you like local AM stations :-) .
akimbo m (author)  Goodhart10 years ago

Might be a problem, however you can make the antenna optional using this extremely simple design.

By the looks of the coil, i'm am quite confident that there is a way to compact the Coil/Antenna.

To keep the coil folded for storage in wallet, we can use fridge magnets or a simple binding string.

Also another useful idea, is that you can get rid of the capacitor itself and it may still work. This is because you can use the coil spacing as the dielectric itself. according to the plans i seen, the coil can still be tuned without a cap, by inserting a tap into the coil at various intervals.

So in essence, a credit card crystal radio would only need:
- A flat and foldable ribbon cable(as a coil/antenna), connected to a preferably thin pcb circuit.
- A crystal diode
- A resistor
- And a crystal radio headset
- A thin short wire for tap selection

- (Optional) a capacitor
- (Optional) an antenna and ground hole
gmoon akimbo m10 years ago
That looks worth exploring. You think this might work without the variable capacitor, eh? Don't see why not, as normally a coil 'slider' is used for tuning. And those vari cap things are usually at least 3/8 in thick (I destroyed many small radios as a kid.)
Johenix gmoon6 years ago
Actually, you could make a variable capacitor from two thin sheets of PCB material. Last night I designed one that was just one plate on the 'credit card' and another plate on a rotating disk of PCB material.
The simplest would be a vari cap that had capacity proportional to its angle of rotation.
Just to be different, I wanted one that would when paired with a coil would have a frequency proportional to its angle of rotation (or a capacity with a square root proportional to its angle of rotation).

I got the idea from the radio in the book "Cache Lake Country" by John J. Rowlands. He slid squares of foil over each other along their diagonal axies.
The design is perfectly linear.

Oh, by the way, some commercially made PCBs have multiple layers of copper foils on each side. So we could print quite a coil on part of the 'credit card'.
Yep, I made one out of a book and some aluminum foil sheets once :-)
If you were really careful at laying out a circuit board you could print a multiple turn pancake coil on one or both sides of the card (just keep the electrons going clockwise on one side of the card and counterclockwise on the other side so their magnetic fields aid each other).
Tuning might be by coil taps or by sliding or rotating second card that formed a variable capacitor using a thin insulator (such as split mica).
Brass eyelets could form tip jacks for old style headphones.
Holes might have to be made in the card for mounting wire lead diodes such as the 1N34A.
vtwins19589 years ago
Novel approach! Yes it can be done using prewound RF Chokes or Inductors. Possibly wound torroids would work here. For AM you would need roughly 33 microHenries and 220 microHenries. You would have to build it off the card. The easiest way may be by using a cc sized piece of either pefr board, poster board, a 3x5 card or thin coardboard using brass thumb tacks for solder points. Before assembly or gluing to the credit card carefully remove the magnetic strip 'cause this will interfere with your radio working. Use only a glue that is not metal based. Hot clue will work. Let me know how it goes, and if you need help I would be glad to share what little I know since I am new to crystal set building myself. Your idead gives me an idead. GOOD JOB AND GOOD LUCK!
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