Home-Brew Transistor Radio
By Joseph Chambers
Successful high school projects make fond memories. When accompanied by a photo, they become even more vivid. (Editor)
In 1962, I built the transistor radio, proudly displayed in my hands in Figure 1. This home brew was created from a Casa Blanca cigar box, a car radio antenna, and junk radio parts. I had wound all the coils myself, built the circuit board, and used transistors and parts from junk radios. The primary ingredients were two PNP type transistors, one germanium diode-detector, a 9-volt battery supply, a 4" PM speaker, a reflex-type circuit, and a telescoping antenna. The radio played very well with plenty of volume to drive a 4" speaker.
I used the set in my Physics project in high school and received an "A" with the comment "Impressive." The project was featured in Radio-TV Experimenter magazine. Though I still have the complete circuit board, the cigar box has been trashed.
Building this two-transistor radio and being successful with it inspired me to begin collecting antique radios and related items. My first radio was a Radiola II given to me by a neighbor. In the process of moving, he found it in an out-building that he had been clearing. Today my collection includes over 250 antique radios, about 50 transistor radios, some novelties and unique radios, 33 horn speakers, 50 cone speakers, and 10 loop antennas.
During my years working as a union electrician in Atlanta, Georgia, I didn't do much collecting. But since my retirement, my interest has been revived. I have also built many other items since my experience with the two-transistor radio. Among them are tube and crystal sets, electric motors, telegraph sets, intercoms, and stereo amps. I have also assembled many kits.
That two-transistor, home-brew project in high school certainly led to a lifetime of pleasure in antique radios and related items.
(Joseph Chambers, 6967 Kimberly Ln., Lithia Springs, GA 30122)
Figure 1. The author, in a vintage photograph, showing his home-brew, cigar-box transistor radio.