Monthly Archives: March 2016

Make Your Own Radio


Nothing says household appliance like a homemade radio; everything from app-powered pizza ovens to universal remotes uses a radio, after all. You may be surprised, but engineering your own radio from scratch takes a lot less effort, money and expertise than you might expect.

You will need quite a few different materials to bring your own radio transmitting and receiving creation to life. Materials include three pennies, a tuning coil, a tuning capacitor, a piezoelectric earphone, an MK484-1 AM radio integrated circuit, a 100,000 ohm resistor, a 1,000 ohm resistor, two 0.01 microfarad capacitors, a 1.5 volt battery, and some brass polish.

hm radioOnce you have your materials together, you’re ready to go. Start by placing your materials on an organized work board. You’re going to need to do some soldering, so you will want to make sure you’re ready to deal with what could end up being a big mess.

Then you’re ready to polish your pennies with some of the brass polish. They’ll have to be clean and shiny for the solder to stick! Once you’ve done your polishing, bend two of the MK484-1 AM radio integrated circuit wires into a 90 degree angle. Place the circuit on the table with the rounded side facing up and solder one of the integrated circuit’s wires to each penny using a solder iron. Be sure to put a bead of soler on each penny before you prepare the wire. Push the wire into the bead of solder until it begins to melt and fuse together. Your two pennies should be parallel to each other, though one should be slightly lower.

Now it’s time to move on to the tuning capacitor. Place it on your materials board upside down, then solder the capacitor’s leftmost left to the bottom penny using the same bead method as described earlier. Place one microfarad capacitor onto the table and solder one leg to the tuning capacitor’s middle leg and one leg to the rightmost penny.

At this point you may want to check and ensure that the resistor is only touching the leg and the penny. If this is the case, solder one of the microfarad capacitors to the two parallel pennies by soldering one of its wires to each of the pennies. It’s especially important during this step to ensure that the capacitor’s wires do not touch the circuit’s middle wire.

hm radio2If all has gone well so far, you can connect one of the earphone’s wires to the other microfarad capacitor. Connect the other earphone wire to the 1,000 ohm resistor and wrap the second capacitor’s wires around the resistor’s wires. All three pieces should now be connected. You’re ready to solder the resistor’s wire to the leftmost penny, in essence connecting the two remaining pieces or chunks of your radio.

That means you’re nearly finished. Solder the battery’s black wire to the rightmost penny and wrap the battery’s red wire around the unsoldered end of the resistor wire. Your battery as officially entered the equation. Now if you just solder the tuning coil’s wires to the tuning capacitor’s two legs, you have yourself an upside-down-radio. Turn it over and you’ve done it!