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;

Step 1: Parts List And Schematic Diagram

List of Materials

1- Small Jam Jar, (Mason Jar) with large mouth
1- 3 1/4 inch dia Plexiglas (or polycarbonate) cover lid, 1/8 inch thick
1- C1 - 60/160 pf Variable Capacitor (ComtrolAuto #VAR160-1)
1- Extension Shaft and Knob for above (ComtrolAuto #ExtKnob-1)
1- L1 -  680 uh Ferrite Loopstick Antenna (ComtrolAuto #LSA680-1)
1- D1 - Germanium 1N34A Diode (*Allied Stock#: 935-0301) $2.16 ea
1- C2 - .001uf Capacitor (marked 102) (*Allied Stock#: 507-0822) $.21 ea
1- R1 - 47k Resistor (*Allied Stock#: 296-6641) $.05 ea
1- Chassis Banana Jack Red - (*Allied Stock#: 528-0158) $.53 ea
1- Chassis Banana Jack Black - (*Allied Stock#: 528-0159) $.53 ea
2 - (or more for each antenna) Banana Plug (*Allied Stock#: 528-0302) $1.21
2 -3.5 mm Mono Chassis Jack (*Allied Stock#: 932-0260) $1.16
a few inches of 20 gauge hook-up wire
1- Audio Patch Cord, 1/8 inch plug ends

Total Cost less than $30.

Note1: Most of the above crystal radio parts are available in kit #SC-Kit-1 from ComtrolAuto 
Note2:Complete crystal spirit radios that can be adapted are available from EJ Gold at YoyodyneIndustries

Note3: For Each Spiral Pancake Antenna,
6 feet of #14 gauge solid copper wire
Banana Plug

Note4: For the Football Style Antenna,
4 feet #10 gauge solid copper wire.
40 feet of #30 gauge coated magnet wire.
Heavy Paper
Scotch Tape
Hot Glue
Banana Plug

Needlenose pliers
Wire Cutter
Soldering iron
Computer w/ Audio Hijack audio software (Mac), or equivalent

Crystal radio parts and kits available at http://comtrolauto.com/
<p>As best as I can determine the 60/160 pF variable capacitors no longer exist. Nothing on google, eBay, Aliexpress, or any antique radio supply that I can google. Does anyone know of a source?</p>
I'm absolutely lost on how you've got the cone antenna wired to the device... Can you draw a diagram or something? Thank you so much!
Hi again, so we have the radio made but can't get anything out of it except a very low static signal. And the variable capacitor does not seem to affect anything. We have the radio going into a sound card so we can connect to active monitors as the built in output on the computer was too low volume. So all we seem to be doing is getting cool effects off a very small amount of static, no am radio or variable with capacitor or light diode! I've read all the comments so not sure if there's much you can suggest but let me know if you have any more tips. Thanks, Hannah
There may be a problem with a burnt diode or bad connection. The diode can burn from the heat of soldering it. (Note: Use a pliers as a heat sink when soldering. )<br><br>To see if things are working properly, you can try using a long antenna to get more gain on local radio signals. I use a 20 foot piece of copper wire strung across my living room ceiling! :) Otherwise without antenna, may be hard to hear local am radio.<br><br>You should be able to hear an electric motor for example as a test. A Dremel tool or electric drill close to the radio should be easily heard. Use multiple &quot;Gain&quot; modules if necessary to increase the volume. To hear laser, needs a delicate setup with lots of gain. The radio must be &quot;on the edge&quot; by being very sensitive.<br><br>You might be better off using the built-in output of the computer, and then amplifying that. (As the sound card may be cutting off and may use a different grounding system.) <br><br> What computer do you use?<br>
<p>You must use Audio Hijack Pro or comparable Windows software to amplify the signal and give it texture. I use three levels of gain, and other modules to modify the sound. Then, static takes on a whole new dimension.</p>
hi there - yes we are putting it through audio hijack and using your screenshots for reference - and yes the static does sound good! but i don't think the variable capacitor is working - should this change the sound of the static too? we get no change when turning the knob... also no change with electromagnetic interference or with shining the light on the diode...<br>thanks, hannah
How can pay you to make me one of these radios?
<p>You can call me dumb dora are anything you like but what is this spirit radio for.? I have seen the video's and post. Is it a listening device of some kind. Like a micro phone? That is what I am understanding. And if it is why go to all the trouble? Please email me because I will probably not remember how to get back to this site. I really would like to know what it is for. Also my great great great grandfather invented the radio receiver is this what this is.? Here is the link that explains his invention, his diagrams on how he built the receiver are there also. </p><p><a href="http://www.wdrcobg.com/doolittle.html" rel="nofollow">http://www.wdrcobg.com/doolittle.html</a></p><p>Here is my email address if someone could explain to dumb dora please I am interested on what it is and what it is for. Judykdoolittle@gmail.com</p><p>Thank you !!</p>
<p>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??</p>
<p>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.</p>
<p>&quot;Tesla's spirit radio&quot;? :-) Are you for real? :-)</p>
<p>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?</p>
<p>How can we trace down the original parts list that Nikola Tesla himself used?</p>
<p>You can't. Tesla simply didn't do this.</p>
Has anyone successfully built one? <br>Im willing to pay someone to build one for me.
<p>People are naive, Tesla never did this nor it is any &quot;spirit radio&quot;. This is disinformation and I think the creator of this joke is laughing at the ignorance.</p>
<p>People really believe this is &quot;Tesla's spirit radio&quot;! Ridiculous! :-)</p>
<p>How can one use this with a PC instead of a MAC? Thanks :-)</p>
<p>Hiya friends! I've got mine hooked p to a Macbook Pro, which means I had to use a USB external sound adapter since I don't have a sound input jack. Nothing is being picked up by the radio, and I haven't had any luck with light or touch altering the sound. I just get static. Any advice would be hella appreciated and returned with a good joke and a digital wink!</p>
<p>Hi, I've just received this loopstick antenna from ComtrolAuto - it has one black (knitted out of two) and two thin wires (on far left and far right end). Does it matter which thin (non-coloured) wire do I take to solder with non-ground C1 capacitor? Thank you so much for helping a newbie :) Kind regards!</p>
can I plug in headphones ... directly into the jar...
<p>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? </p>
<p>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?</p><p>Thanks.</p>
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.<br><br>A wooden base is fine...but then it wouldn't be a Spooky Tesla Spirit Radio ! :) Cheers, Rick<br>
<p>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!</p>
I created the spirit radio and It picks up higher frequency waves. Doesn't change a whole lot though. <br>I am unable to get light to affect it. Different types of lights even. I'm using a PC voxal software program.<br>Did I wire something wrong? Or is it my sound settings?
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 )
<p>I have played around with all of the settings that I know of. Tried AC and DC lights on the diode.<br>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. </p>
<p>Hello! </p><p>Objective: build one Spooky Tesla Radio. (see Photo)</p><p>Outcome: Successful! Build time: about 4 hours once I had all the parts.</p><p>Turned out a little different than the instructions, different size jar (no idea what impact this has...I'm guessing purely aesthetic?) </p><p>Variable Capacitor: same as spec</p><p>Downloaded patch and using Hijack for Mac</p><p>Results: AM radio station test ok</p><p>Spooky noises test = Yes but hard to tune in (still working on it) Sounds like a lot of people all talking at once! </p><p>Lighting noises = Success! </p><p>Still need to make the cone antenna</p><p>Questions: Is there a specific set of filters in Hijack required to hear the spooky noises?</p><p>Is there a patch for this or do you only hear them once you've made connected the cone Antenna? </p><p>Cheers....great kit! :)</p>
Excellent! <br>I am always happy to see a new Spooky Radio come into the world!<br><br>Try these Spooky patches for Audio Hijack. <br><br>Spooky Radio Patch 1 https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B1ty3oeDN9qvVzlqdkxOSmxYdTQ/view?usp=sharing<br><br>Spooky Radio Patch 2<br>https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B1ty3oeDN9qvTk55bS1xbEZvSWs/view?usp=sharing<br><br>Cheers, Rick
Hi Rick,<br><br>Appreciate you sending the patches, let you know how they go.<br><br>Cheers <br>Grenville
Is it possible to buy one on eBay premade? I'm not so good with building things
<p>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!</p>
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.
The Tesla antenna. Great fore RF hunting , It was a tricky thing to wind but had a lot of fun.
Good one! Thanks for sharing it. Tesla said that shape had special levitation characteristics when activated properly! :)<br>
<p>Hello !<br>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. <br>I have looked through the references given in this article, aswell as the comments and the internet without luck I'm afraid.<br> <br>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.<br><br>I need this information to prove that this is a do-able project.<br>If anyone can help me, please send an e-mail to Whirlz2300@hotmail.com <br>Thanks in advance!</p>
cool little radio. sounds loud for a crystal set but very cool
So I have all the parts except the plexi glass. I got all the recommended parts.<br>But I can't figure out how to cut the jokes properly on the glass and how many
<p>Hi guys I took a small handheld am/fm radio to bits to remove the loopstick and antenna as this saves you money .</p><p>I am playing with different antenna shapes using solid copper wire .</p><p>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 . </p>
You are taking apart a radio, and building a radio. It will likely <br>sound like a radio unless you have a computer to produce the special sounds.
<p>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 &quot;line in jack&quot; or where that is on the circuit diagram. </p>
<p>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?</p>
<p>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 </p>
ComtrolAuto is my favorite, but they no longer ship outside of US. Here is an Ebay crystal kitl that could work for you...<br> <br> <a href="http://www.ebay.ca/itm/Crystal-Set-Radio-Kit-Of-Electronic-Parts-Diode-Wireless-Project-ff-/111235841381?pt=UK_Sound_Vision_Other&hash=item19e62c3d65" rel="nofollow">http://www.ebay.ca/itm/Crystal-Set-Radio-Kit-Of-Electronic-Parts-Diode-Wireless-Project-ff-/111235841381?pt=UK_Sound_Vision_Other&amp;hash=item19e62c3d65</a><br>
Thank you :) i think this will work fine for me
<p>I only found a 60/141pf Variable Capacitor, it will work? </p><p>Thanks!</p>
I think that cap will work for most purposes of the Spooky Radio.
<p>Is it possible to replicate the design using laser cut acrylic box in place of a glass mason jar?</p>
That should work. The may be some electrostatic effect from the plastic, but that will likely add to the fun!<br>

About This Instructable


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Bio: I am re-inventing myself as an inventor, after too many years as a mechanic! I enjoy learning from Tesla disc Turbines, magnetic motors, and Crystal ... More »
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