Sunday, 24 October 2021

The Crystal Radio DX Contest


I first became intrigued with Crystal Radio DXing several years ago when I happened across the above image showing the Crystal Radio DX Contest setup of Al Klase, N3FRQ. I was immediately surprised to learn that 'DX' could actually be heard on a crystal radio ... I could never hear anything but two strong locals on my own crystal set as a kid. I also knew immediately that I wanted to learn more and hopefully get into the next Crystal Radio DX Contest!

Back then, the contest was organized by the Yahoo Crystal Radio Group and then later, by the Alabama Crystal Radio Group. These contests were exceptionally popular and always sparked a huge amount of discussion, spurred new construction and seemed to create a lot of ‘crystal radio’ excitement in the months leading up to the contest.

Crystal radios can be as simple as a 'single-tuned' set like this, built by Mike Simpson from plans shown in Alfred P. Morgan's "The Boys' Third Book of Radio and Electronics". Read the nice back-story from Mike about this project! In the right location and with a good antenna, even simple sets like this are capable of hearing skywave signals.

(courtesy Mike Simpson

At the other end of the spectrum are elaborate DX sets like this one, built by Mike Tuggle in Hawaii.

Mike Tuggle's 'Lyonodyne' DX set  


Mike regularly hears AM broadcast band stations in Canada and the USA on his crystal radio from his location in Hawaii ... he explains the details here.

Recently, along with Doug (K4LY) and Dave (N1DAY), I discussed how we might be able to again  resurrect this popular contest activity and after countless e-mail exchanges, we’ve now put together just such an event!

Accordingly, we invite any and all crystal radio builders and users to participate in the upcoming Crystal Radio DX Contest to be held from January 1 through January 8th, 2022!

This date period should provide ample time for new construction to take place or to make improvements to present radios, while hopefully finding some nice mid-winter propagation on the broadcast band … half the battle when it comes to DXing with crystal radios.

Some ideas have been gleaned from previous contests to provide a minimum set of simple rules that will hopefully accommodate crystal radios of all types.

There are two entry classes, ‘OPEN’ and ‘HOBBY’ with guidelines for each. You will only be competing against others in the same category or maybe only against yourself if trying to reach a set goal.

In the true spirit of previous contests, it’s more about having fun, optimizing your passive receiving system and creating some great discussions, both before and after the contest … this really makes every participant a winner in the end.

As an anchor point for discussions regarding this and future such events, the Facebook ‘Crystal Radio DX Contest Group’ has been created and anyone that might be curious or interested in possible contest participation is encouraged to join.

In no way is this group intended to usurp activity from any present groups and it should not. It will be a focal point where members can find and discuss activities generated by the upcoming event. What are you building or improving for the contest? What are your plans? Share your crystal radio DXing strategies. Any thoughts or comments related to the upcoming event are fair game!

The Crystal Radio DX Contest Group can be found here where you can find discussion as well as the rules.

As well, the rules in pdf form, may be found here if you are not on Facebook.

Hopefully you will consider entering the contest ... it was always an enjoyable event.


Dick said...

Great entry. Crystal radio, he purest form of audio. Nothing gets in the way. Good luck and long live crystal radio. 73 de F8WBD

Anonymous said...

The "Lyonodyne" set caught my eye. Back in the '80's, I made a similar set that used coils wound on ferrite rods instead of the air coils shown. You could vary the amount of coupling by the spacing of the rods in parallel with each other, as shown in the pic. I see that the outer coupled coils are wave traps. Also see the constructor using a ferrite rod/coil for air coupling pickup to the middle main coil.

I was amazed at the selectivity and audio quality from a properly performing/designed xtal set. Back in the 60's BCB dx'ing was fun. I gave up on it awhile back because of the way that gov/business has taken over the content allowed on stations. Nothing worthwhile to listen to anymore. The hobby was fun while it lasted.

Steve McDonald said...

Tnx Dick!

Regarding content...the last thing I care about when looking for Crystal Radio DX is content :-)

Unknown said...

One day years ago I used jumpers and clipped my wire antenna and ground to the tickler coil on coils from my ocean hopper. A tuning cap and trying some diodes, surprised to hear many shortwave bc stations. Used a crystal earphone.