Instructables
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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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)  voningraham3 days ago
Good one! Thanks for sharing it. Tesla said that shape had special levitation characteristics when activated properly! :)
AncleD7 days 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!

voningraham10 days ago
cool little radio. sounds loud for a crystal set but very cool
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Brockjay10 days 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)  danceswithghosts16 days 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!17 days 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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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.141 month 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.
vazquezl312 months ago

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

mrfixitrick (author)  vazquezl312 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!3 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!

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mrfixitrick (author)  The Peddler3 months ago

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

mbernal994 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.

Missy6664 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...

Rickmick4 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 Rickmick4 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!

"

lexlarson5 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

mrfixitrick (author)  lexlarson5 months ago
Try using a mono cord instead of stereo one, that might help with the hum. Or, try soldering together the ring wire and the shield/ground wire mesh to ground it.

On my Mac, the computer acts as the ground. You might try a separate ground wire to a known good earth ground or the AC plug ground.

You can use a ac filter on the audio line. Some audio cords have that built in ( a bulge in the line where a transformer is)

You can also try a usb audio input device.

Once most of the hum is gone, you can use the software to tune out the pitch of 60 hz and harmonics of that. I used to alter the pitch control to higher or lower frequencies.

Make sure you use lots of gain. I used several gain modules in a row to increase amplitude to point of being able to hear well the small disturbances to the electronics.

Try hooking up a separate 20 foot long bare copper wire antenna for much greater sensitivity to begin with.

Well, there's a few things to go on!
Let me know how it goes...

Okay, i got the mono plug installed, and rewired the whole thing, soldering this time and with insulated wires..

Yes, changing to mono, and rewiring to solid connections really reduced the hum, almost silent now, and i know its still working because i get feedback when i touch an antenna, or any component on the circuit, including the ferrite rod

Still however i can't get any reception or any variance from what is basically static(44.1kHx) (been from 600 Hz to 60kHz) , regardless of how many times i amplify or change pitch and/or frequency, tested with presenting a laser to the diode as well as introducing an electromagnetic field around the antenna, and adjusting the capacitor.... still nothing, well i see very slight changes, but nothing more than what random changes happen from a blank run... Any other suggestions? i could send pics of wiring/set up in case i made a dumb mistake

On a side note I did already try a couple of those recommendations..

1. At least the way i had it wired, grounding the ring to the sleeve in a TRS audio cable makes it unreadable/unusable by the cpu and offered no output.

2. 20 foot antenna is really hard to support without it falling over and grounding itself making a VERY loud noise when speakers are turned up (might try again later with proper supports, idk like silk from the ceiling?)

Anyways, basically i THINK i have it all together and operating properly now, soo i guess... whats the best way i can test if its working properly? how do i tune into specific stations? and what am i looking for to amplify in these specific sound waves, like if i shine a laser through the diode, what sort of noise, or pattern should i expect in the waveform, and how soft/loud should it appear?

AllenMcG5 months ago

Working on getting all the parts together. I got 14 gauge wire and am trying to make the pancake antenna, but 14 gauge seems flimsy to me. Did you mean to say maybe 12 gauge or 10 gauge?

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mrfixitrick (author)  AllenMcG5 months ago
You can use 10 or 12 gage. I used 14 gage.
onewheeltom5 months ago

wire gauge shouldn't matter, right? all I have in thick wire is 10 gauge. Was going to leave the insulation on it, though I could remove it.

mrfixitrick (author)  onewheeltom5 months ago
The wire gage doesn't matter very much for this application. It's best to remove the insulation.

I tired using 14 gauge wire and it is way to flimsy to make a pancake antenna like you are showing in the pictures. Am I doning something wrong or do I need thricker copper?

mrfixitrick (author)  AllenMcG5 months ago

My 14 gage antennas are quite springy and somewhat flimsy, but retain their shape. There may be different alloys of copper wire available. The closer to 100% copper, the softer and more flimsy it will be.

1.) Are you sure it is 14 gage (1.5 mm / .060 inch minimum) and not 16 gage (1.3 mm / .050 inch)?

2.) You can strain the wire first by pulling it over a couple of pipes. The idea is to work-harden the wire, so that it is more stiff to begin working with it.

3.)When making the antenna, pull the wire into a spiral circle on a flat surface, beginning in the centre. The tighter the circles, the better, as it will help harden the wire.

3.) Try using 12 gage wire instead. :)

onewheeltom5 months ago

I'm using a plastic lid from a jar of Trader Joe Mayo. They have other jars with lids that also fit a standard mason jar thread (Sunflower Seed Butter) perfectly. I'll probably mount the diode through the top of the lid between the banana jacks so it is exposed.

onewheeltom5 months ago

Which of the kits from comtrolauto is the one with the right parts? The only difference appears to be the taps on the coils...I ordered the CRK-1.

mrfixitrick (author)  onewheeltom5 months ago
The CRK-1 kit should work fine for you. good luck with your build!

@onewheeltom, I suspect you'll be fine, but please let us know so we can compare notes. I ordered the CRK-3 kit as it had didn't have the tap. I believe it's all the same as long as you don't need the taps, don't use them, but it would be nice to confirm. The PDF file that's associated with the CRK-1 kit makes mention something to the effect of "If you're not using the long antenna connection, don't cut the wires." so in this case you're not going to. I believe by using the taps you're just changing the inductance. I waffled on the decision quite a bit, since the loopstick without the taps is a different shape I worry it might not fit into a container as nicely, but I believe without using the taps they're all functionally equivalent. I'll definitely report back my findings once it all arrives. Please do likewise.

amikolajczyk5 months ago

Question regarding the spiral pancake antennas...does the wire need to be insulated "magenet wire" with the enamel coating to provide insulation against itself, or will any plain stripped copper wire do? If the antenna wire touches itself, like where the vertical section heads up, is that a problem, or do we want to keep it insulated against itself? Thanks! Really looking forward to the parts arriving so I can get started on this project!

tree965 months ago

Brought 788 uh Ferrite Loopstick Antenna you said would work to me in a recent post, but the ferrite rod is a lot bigger and I have trouble fitting it into most jars! Is it possible to trim down the rod?

mrfixitrick (author)  tree965 months ago
Sorry, I didn't realize the ferrite rod was bigger.

I hate to give advice again, but ferrite rod will break fairly easily...perhaps you can break a piece off?
jsmock26 months ago
This looks like a fantastic project! I appreciate all of the time and effort you took to post this. Is it possible to post directions on how to make it work without using a computer? Or perhaps direct me to another site that has these instructions? (I tried to find it myself, but Google has thus far failed me) Thank you
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