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.

Steve McDonald, VE7SL, is a regular contributor to and writes from British Columbia, Canada. Contact him at [email protected].

3 Responses to “The Crystal Radio DX Contest”

  • jerry buchanan:

    this looks like fun i would like more info please? and some schematics…

  • Steve ve7sl:

    What info are you seeking Jerry? There are literally hundreds of plans on the web regarding crystal radio construction.

  • Dave KF7JAF:

    I built that exact radio from that exact book (that I got from the library) when I was a kid of around ten years old. One summer night, I was listening to it while adjusting the loopstick ( to get some idea of the tuning range) I turned the screw so it was all the way out ( I assume minimum inductance?) and I hear in my headphones; “This is The Voice Of America, Greenville, North Carolina…” I almost fell off my chair! Greenville North Carolina was some 700 miles from my location in Peabody, Massachusetts!!!

    That incident started a lifelong interest in radio and electronics that continues to this day, over fifty years later!


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