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Picture of Spooky Tesla Spirit Radio
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News Flash!!!
The Spooky Tesla Spirit Radio and Mrfixitrick are now featured in a PC game called "Tesla".  Monsters and bats are battled, while helping Mrfixitrick find the seven parts of the Spooky Tesla Spirit Radio. Intriguing background music. From GODD Games at: www.goddgames.com/tesla.html

Have a look at the Crystal Quantum Radio devices of EJ Gold that helped inspire this instructable:  http://www.yoyodyneindustries.com/

"My first observations positively terrified me as there was present in them something mysterious, not to say supernatural, and I was alone in my laboratory at night"
- Nikola Tesla, 1901 article "Talking With The Planets

The Spooky Tesla Spirit Radio is more than just a crystal radio circuit in a jam-jar. It's a sound maker that plugs in to a computer, and makes awesome spooky sounds by responding to electromagnetic fields or light sources in real time.

Athough Tesla used different parts, this radio's basic L-C (Inductor-Capacitor) circuit uses a similar schematic to what Tesla experimented with in his early days. The versatile 1N34A crystal germanium diode used here, substitutes for the tricky rotating nickel detectors and sensitive relays, used by Tesla in the late 1800's. 

You can listen to AM broadcasts with this radio, but it was made to have fun with in other ways. (Besides, AM radio wasn't exactly what Nikola Tesla was interested in...in fact, he believed it was a waste of energy to transmit and receive Hertzian waves!) 

By using a program like Audio Hyjack Pro (Mac), the radio's output is tweaked at the computer to give some great real-time sound effects...and you can record them at the same time. 

In the following accompanying movies, I show how the Spooky Tesla Spirit Radio reacts to lightning, radio frequencies, the light spectrum, the computer screen, RF pulses, electromagnetic fields and more!





In the following video, the Spooky Tesla Spirit Radio is used to give voice to a Mac Hyperspace screensaver! The simple crystal circuit is apparently sensitive to the screen synchronization RF frequencies, and so it provides awesome background sounds...check it out:





The next movie shows "Spooky", the radio, beside a Dancing Ghost homopolar motor. The motor emits electromagnetic waves that are picked up by Spooky's antenna coils, and we hear the results translated through computer software in real time...spooky!!






Here's a movie of the action in the new PC game "Tesla", featuring the Spooky Tesla Spirit Radio;



 
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Powertripp26 days ago

Just built this.. I cant get anything but static. No sound reactions to light on the diode or anything. I can get am if I touch the antennas, thats about it.. I quaddrupil checked my connections and even dis-assembled and reassembled.. still absolutely nothing but am radio when touched and static when not touched... Help anyone??

mrfixitrick (author)  Powertripp26 days ago

If you get static and AM when touching, you have done everything correctly. I believe you need to plug into the sound port of a Mac computer running Audio Hijack software set with the Spooky settings... Also, Increase signal by using a 20 foot antenna and ground if you wish.

Been messing with it more.. Still nothing but static.. Diode is non-responsive to light, does pick up my soldering gun though. I used a variable capacitor along with a ferrite loop-stick from an old radio though.. Could that be the problem? What pf does any old radio usually pick up? I got a rad germanium diode by the way; i dont know if that makes a difference?

i hear Nikola Tesla's research was shut down by the government because he posed a threat to their system, can any one tell me why?

lorddoomicus2 months ago

Why did you build it in a glass jar instead of on a wooden base like a more traditional crystal radio? Is there something special about the glass jar, that just building it on a wooden base would not provide?

Thanks.

mrfixitrick (author)  lorddoomicus2 months ago
The glass jar is mostly just a cool idea I thought of, but it does have some scientific basis. The clear glass allows the diode to receive unshielded environmental input such as ambient light, laser, and magnetic and electromagnetic waves without much interference, at the same time protecting the circuit from dust, dirt and young prying hands.

A wooden base is fine...but then it wouldn't be a Spooky Tesla Spirit Radio ! :) Cheers, Rick
julesjjv2 months ago

Hi, thanks so much for this great instructable! I'm just getting to work on mine now, and had a question about the ferrite loopstick antenna. I have a ferrite core (I bought this one, http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/62mm-Rectangular-Ferrite-Antenna-Bar-AM-MW-LW-Radio-Loopstick-Core-/120852688164?ssPageName=ADME:L:OU:GB:3160), but wasn't sure about the wrapping. Is it just a case of wrapping a thin wire around the core 75 times? In the picture it looks like you have the ferrite core, then something (tape or cardboard?) around the core, then another small bar (what is this, iron?) and then the thin wire wrapped around that. If you could clear up what that is, that would be great. Thanks a lot!

Brockjay3 months ago
I created the spirit radio and It picks up higher frequency waves. Doesn't change a whole lot though.
I am unable to get light to affect it. Different types of lights even. I'm using a PC voxal software program.
Did I wire something wrong? Or is it my sound settings?
mrfixitrick (author)  Brockjay3 months ago
I had to use 3 pitch control modules added in the Audio Hijack software, double double gain, and a lot of fiddling and adjustments to get the light sensing to work. Try a laser first or even close to a 60 cycle lightbulb. The secret is that the laser will not read on the diode except when the light moves on and off of the diode. (i.e. With DC laser it is the CHANGE of light, not the light itself that gives the tone. An AC light will work as continuous tone )

I have played around with all of the settings that I know of. Tried AC and DC lights on the diode.
I have iPhones and iPad's but have been unable to find software that I know for sure works. Maybe one day Audio Hijack will release a PC version.

grenville.wood made it!3 months ago

Hello!

Objective: build one Spooky Tesla Radio. (see Photo)

Outcome: Successful! Build time: about 4 hours once I had all the parts.

Turned out a little different than the instructions, different size jar (no idea what impact this has...I'm guessing purely aesthetic?)

Variable Capacitor: same as spec

Downloaded patch and using Hijack for Mac

Results: AM radio station test ok

Spooky noises test = Yes but hard to tune in (still working on it) Sounds like a lot of people all talking at once!

Lighting noises = Success!

Still need to make the cone antenna

Questions: Is there a specific set of filters in Hijack required to hear the spooky noises?

Is there a patch for this or do you only hear them once you've made connected the cone Antenna?

Cheers....great kit! :)

Spooky Tesla Radio.jpg
mrfixitrick (author)  grenville.wood3 months ago
Excellent!
I am always happy to see a new Spooky Radio come into the world!

Try these Spooky patches for Audio Hijack.

Spooky Radio Patch 1 https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B1ty3oeDN9qvVzlqdkxOSmxYdTQ/view?usp=sharing

Spooky Radio Patch 2
https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B1ty3oeDN9qvTk55bS1xbEZvSWs/view?usp=sharing

Cheers, Rick
Hi Rick,

Appreciate you sending the patches, let you know how they go.

Cheers
Grenville
bry523 months ago
Is it possible to buy one on eBay premade? I'm not so good with building things
HannahW13 months ago

hi there - do you know if there is an app that can be used on an ipad to filter out the noise from these radios, as an alternative to using hijack audio pro as you suggest above? many thanks!

mrfixitrick (author)  HannahW13 months ago
You can use Splashtop to access your desktop or laptop mac and Audio Hijack. The new Garageband for iPad may be able to handle the job as well...I need to experiment with it to see.
voningraham4 months ago
The Tesla antenna. Great fore RF hunting , It was a tricky thing to wind but had a lot of fun.
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mrfixitrick (author)  voningraham4 months ago
Good one! Thanks for sharing it. Tesla said that shape had special levitation characteristics when activated properly! :)
AncleD4 months ago

Hello !
My Name is Oliver and i attend to HTX in Denmark and I want to as my final project, to build and explain how the Spirit Radio works.
I have looked through the references given in this article, aswell as the comments and the internet without luck I'm afraid.

But i was wondering if anyone had any sources, or at least pointers, as to where i can find formulas/equations to describe, primarily, the correlation between light and sound, aswell as the part where you use a magnet turn it into a microphone.

I need this information to prove that this is a do-able project.
If anyone can help me, please send an e-mail to Whirlz2300@hotmail.com
Thanks in advance!

voningraham4 months ago
cool little radio. sounds loud for a crystal set but very cool
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Brockjay4 months ago
So I have all the parts except the plexi glass. I got all the recommended parts.
But I can't figure out how to cut the jokes properly on the glass and how many

Hi guys I took a small handheld am/fm radio to bits to remove the loopstick and antenna as this saves you money .

I am playing with different antenna shapes using solid copper wire .

I am going to attach an amplifier and speakers to it rather then the computer will this work ? email me any advice - marktlindsay@hotmail.co.uk Thanks guys .

mrfixitrick (author)  danceswithghosts4 months ago
You are taking apart a radio, and building a radio. It will likely
sound like a radio unless you have a computer to produce the special sounds.
theGNARTeam made it!4 months ago

thanks for sharing this. i have never followed through soldering together a circuit diagram before, but i did with this, and it works. its really weird how when my roommate turns on his florescent lights a few rooms away the spirit radio makes a loud pop sound. i also like listening to the sound of my computer surfing the internet. although, i dont understand how to use the "line in jack" or where that is on the circuit diagram.

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max.wallin.145 months ago

hello :) i am an 18 year old that really would like to build one of those. How ever i have a problem: some of the components i need can't be found in Sweden,( my homeland)and it seems that they can only be found in the us... Does anyone know about a good internet page whit components that ship abroad?

Im interested in making one also i would think copper wire from a old electric fan copper coil and ground wire from a drop cord the thick copper wire and small mason jam jar and a coil post from a 70s era car radio manual adjust type should provide the materials

mrfixitrick (author)  max.wallin.145 months ago
ComtrolAuto is my favorite, but they no longer ship outside of US. Here is an Ebay crystal kitl that could work for you...

http://www.ebay.ca/itm/Crystal-Set-Radio-Kit-Of-Electronic-Parts-Diode-Wireless-Project-ff-/111235841381?pt=UK_Sound_Vision_Other&hash=item19e62c3d65
Thank you :) i think this will work fine for me

I only found a 60/141pf Variable Capacitor, it will work?

Thanks!

I think that cap will work for most purposes of the Spooky Radio.
vazquezl316 months ago

Is it possible to replicate the design using laser cut acrylic box in place of a glass mason jar?

mrfixitrick (author)  vazquezl316 months ago
That should work. The may be some electrostatic effect from the plastic, but that will likely add to the fun!
The Peddler made it!7 months ago

I made this device with great success. Here is a sound sample of my first audio test; http://llama-music.com/docs/TeslaTestTrack.mp3

The audio file was exported directly from the Audio Mulch program into WAV format and then converted to MP3 @320kpbs.

I was able to keep parts cost low thanks to taydaelectronics.com and comtrolauto.netfirms.com. The total for everything was $18.80. I made the copper antennas in a conical shape because to me, it looks better visually. Even when it's not plugged in, it looks great sitting next to synthesizers and other music gear. Lots of fun!

TeslaSpiritRadio.jpg
mrfixitrick (author)  The Peddler7 months ago

A great build with fun sounds! Thanks for sharing it.

mbernal998 months ago

I did make my own, but didn't come out as good as this one. Had problems making the antennas and can only pick up very week signs. I need a good program for the PC to give this more use.

Missy6668 months ago

Well be done Rick now for the one I am going to gain on to cause more hell for this is close to what I am looking for with what I am being given..... damn radios that I pick up and cant turn off...

Rickmick8 months ago

Nice job on this. The instructions are not complete because no one can see how you wired the football coil by your image. Could you please show how it is wired?

Rickmick Rickmick8 months ago

Sorry, I found your answer from a before that I over looked. Here it is for others that might also be looking.

"

mrfixitrick (author)

I'm not sure how to "properly" wire the football coil either!

There seems to be three basic styles...

1.)
Wind the coil starting from one end and right through to the other end,
all one piece of wire. that will give a connection point at each end of
the coil.

2.) Wire one end clockwise and the other anti-clockwise, join them in the middle.

3.) Same as 2 above, but don't join the wires in the middle.

The
original Tesla football coil used high voltage to activate it, so the
purpose here as a crystal radio antenna is different...therefor, there's
certainly room for improvisation.

Besides, by experimenting, you may come up with something interesting that has been overlooked!

"

lexlarson9 months ago

Alright, i got all the parts and got it all together, just bare connections, no solder yet, i have a few questions tho because it doesnt seem to register as an input and i know there's no shorting wires, so i guess first question would be how would i get it recognized on my pc? uhmm second question am i supposed to be grounding everything through the audio jack to the cpu? or is there a separate ground?

well i figured out one of those questions, if using a TRS audio jack with 3 connections, use tip for positive and ring for negative, still dont know about separate grounding, or the sleeve connection, but that solved the cpu not registering the radio, now i cant get any reception, i get a hum tho, and changing the cap seems to do nothing, however when taking a sample from recording on audacity, i THINK i can tell the diode is making signals,by comparing a blank run to shining a laser over it, and i can kinda hear a pattern if i mess with the audio a bit, any tuning suggestions? im using a 5 pf to 365 pf air gap capacitor from xtal, and using the induction method for coils, and im using the pancake antennas

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