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Simple transistor receivers for the AM broadcast band

Especially if you can't or don't want to put up a long wire antenna outside, simple 1 to 3 transistor receivers can be a lot of fun to build for AM reception. They cost very little more than a crystal set and you'll hear many more stations on them and at better volume too. As a rough rule of thumb, a two transistor set can comfortably power headphones or even a speaker in a quiet room.

The simplest transistor type is a crystal set followed by a one or two transistor audio amplifier. But the use of reflexing (making a transistor amplify both radio and audio frequencies) can improve performance. As can introducing some positive feedback or regeneration. ICs can reduce the number of parts required and thus simplify construction.

Below are circuits and demonstrations of some simple AM receivers that you might wish to try.

Crystal set with high gain TL431 audio amplifier


12 part AM radio drives a speaker


Thousand hour AM receiver using an MK484 IC


Building and testing a no coils AM radio


My favourites from the above are the 12 part AM radio (for local reception) and the Thousand hour AM receiver for more distant stations. If you are in an area without many AM stations, I suggest building FM superregenerative receivers instead.


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Books by VK3YE

Ham Radio Get Started (USA)

Australian Ham Radio Handbook (Aust)

Hand-carried QRP Antennas

More Hand-carried QRP Antennas

99 things you can do with Amateur Radio

Getting back into Amateur Radio

Minimum QRP

Illustrated International Ham Radio Dictionary

Make your Passion Pay (ebook writing)


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