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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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 days 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
julesjjv4 days 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!

Brockjay1 month 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)  Brockjay1 month 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!1 month 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.wood1 month 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
bry521 month ago
Is it possible to buy one on eBay premade? I'm not so good with building things
HannahW11 month 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)  HannahW11 month 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.
voningraham2 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)  voningraham2 months ago
Good one! Thanks for sharing it. Tesla said that shape had special levitation characteristics when activated properly! :)
AncleD2 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!

voningraham2 months ago
cool little radio. sounds loud for a crystal set but very cool
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Brockjay2 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)  danceswithghosts2 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!2 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.143 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.143 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.
vazquezl314 months ago

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

mrfixitrick (author)  vazquezl314 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!5 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 Peddler5 months ago

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

mbernal996 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.

Missy6666 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...

Rickmick6 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 Rickmick6 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!

"

lexlarson7 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)  lexlarson7 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?

AllenMcG7 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)  AllenMcG7 months ago
You can use 10 or 12 gage. I used 14 gage.
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