Letter Re: Crystal Radios

Something I’ve often wondered about prepping, but have never seen addressed is the use of Crystal Radio sets for after TEOTWAWKI. Small, portable, and they don’t require any electric source. There are some high performance sets out there that get not only AM [broadcast band 560-1700 KHz], but also shortwave.

I’d love to have some input from a knowledgeable individual as to the “best” unit from a prepping standpoint. The variety and cost spans the spectrum from under $10 at Radio Shack, to antique reproductions for over $500. Confusing to a novice, to say the least. But the technology seems to offer some terrific advantages. Here is a crystal set that seems to focus on purchasing performance, rather than nostalgia, or a beginners set (which seems to be most common).

It is ideal to input into “best” headsets and used the “best” antennas–possibly “best” complete package? Your input would be greatly appreciated.

I know there are receivers out there like the Freeplay that use dynamo / spring power. But the crystal radio is completely passive. There is no way for it to break it , with regular use. – Jack J.

JWR Replies: That is a good suggestion. Not only will this provide an EMP-proof back up radio, but it is a great way to teach youngsters the basics of electronics, detector designs, and radio wave propagation. The crucial spares to lay in, in depth, are headphones of the properly-matched impedance. Headphones are by far the most fragile part of the receiver. Also, be advised that in the long term, germanium crystals will eventually develop “dead spots” after contact with a cat’s whisker, so it is a good idea to buy some extra crystals or germanium diodes. These are also good “second order” barter items, for those dreaded multi-generational scenarios.