[Table of Contents]People old and young enjoy waxing nostalgic about
and learning some of the history of early electronics. Popular Electronics was published from October 1954 through April
1985. As time permits, I will be glad to scan articles for you. All copyrights (if any) are hereby acknowledged.
If this article was
written today, the title would more likely be, "One IC Pocket Radio," and rather than a couple dozen resistors,
capacitors, and inductors (and a transformer), the might be one or two decoupling capacitors. Everything else
would be contained within the integrated circuit. There are plenty of single-chip radio circuits available from
distributors like Digi-Key, Newark Electronics, etc. Oh, and how many of you even know what a phenolic board looks
like? Better yet, how many of you you identify the unique smell of one heating up or burning due to component
overheating? If you can't, then consider yourself lucky, because the probably means you're 30-40 years younger
than I am, and you have that much longer to live then me ;-)
See all articles from
Reflex and regenerative circuits are combined in this sensitive and
One Transistor Pocket Radio
and constructing a one-transistor pocket receiver is a challenge to any experimenter. A good many "pocket"
receivers are either too large or too bulky for true "pocket" operation. Or they simply don't possess enough
sensitivity and gain to pull in stations without an external antenna.
The little receiver described here gets around both of these weaknesses. It uses a combination of reflex
and regenerative action to cut size and components to a minimum and increase sensitivity to striking proportions.
The complete unit measures only 4" x 2 1/2" X 3/4". And it's powerful enough to pull in every local station on the
dial with no external antenna at all! Reflex Circuit
. Because of the "reflex" action of
the circuit, a single transistor is made to amplify the signal twice - once at radio frequencies and again, after
detection, at audio frequencies (see "How It Works"). To simplify the circuit, a diode is used as a detector,
leaving the transistor free to do nothing but amplify.
Also acting to increase the circuit's simplicity and stability is the regeneration hookup. The circuit is designed
so that the amount of positive feedback or regeneration doesn't control the overall sensitivity as is usually the
case with regenerative detectors. What's more, there is no regeneration control or annoying oscillation to contend
Since the remarkable efficiency of this little set doesn't depend on regeneration alone, only a
limited amount of regeneration is used. Its stability is evidenced by the fact that, once adjusted, the set is as
stable as most non-regenerative detectors.
B1-15·volt battery (two Eveready 404E's or . equivalent in parallel)
C1-365·µµf. variable capacitor (Lafayette MS-445 or equivalent)
C2-10-µf., 25-volt miniature electrolytic
capacitor C3-30-µf., 25-volt miniature electrolytic capacitor C4-.0005-µf., ceramic capacitor
C6-Gimmick capacitor (see text)
L1-Antenna coil for C1 (Superex 2004
or equivalent) L2-Six turns of #26 insulated wire wound on L1 (see text)
R2-22,000 ohms All resistors 1/4 watt
R4-10,000-ohm volume control with
s.p.s.t. switch S1 (Lafayette VC-28 or equivalent)
S1-S.p.s.t. switch (on R4)
T1-Coupling transformer (Philco 32-4763-2 or equivalent-see text) 1-2000-ohm
impedance earphone (Lafayette MS-368 or equivalent)
1-4" x 2 1/2" x 3/4" plastic box
1-4" x 2 1/2" x 1/16" phenolic board
Misc.-Tuning dial, knob for
volume control, wire, solder, etc.
One transistor does the work of two in this highly efficient circuit. The signal is amplified twice-once at
radio frequencies ,and, after detection, at audio frequencies.
HOW IT WORKS
One transistor and one diode are employed in a circuit that combines the
advantages of both reflex and regenerative action. Because the signal passes through transistor Q1 twice - once
as r. f. and once as a.f. - the transistor is properly described as operating in a "reflex" circuit. Adding to
the already high efficiency of this circuit is the regeneration furnished by gimmick capacitor C6.
operation, the r.f. signal picked up by antenna coil L1 is tuned by coil-capacitor combination L1-C1 and induced
into secondary coil L2. Fed directly into the base of transistor Q1, the r.f. signal is amplified and passed to
transformer T1. A portion of the signal from Q1's collector is returned to Q1's base by capacitor C6 to provide
additional gain through regeneration , The signal induced in T1's secondary is detected by diode D1, smoothed by
capacitor C5, and returned to the base of Q1 through volume-control R4 and coupling capacitor C2.
Transistor Q1 again amplifies the signal, this time at audio frequencies. The audio signal from Q1's collector
is fed through the primary of T1 to the earphone.
Although a Philco r.f. transformer was used as T1 in the model, this particular transformer is available
only from authorized Philco distributors and may prove hard to get. However, T1 is in no way critical - a number
of transformers were substituted for the Philco unit, and most of them worked satisfactorily.
AR-162 (available from Lafayette Radio, 165-08 Liberty Ave., Jamaica 33, N. Y., for $2.95) seems to be a good
substitution. A miniature output transformer measuring only 1" x 3/4" x 3/4", the AR-162 has identical
center-tapped primary and secondary windings of 500 ohms with a d.c. resistance of 18 ohms. You'll have to remove
the transformer's strap and laminations to fit the unit in the small plastic box specified in the parts list. But
you'll find that this bit of disassembling proves no problem (see illustration on next page). The windings are
light enough to be held in place with a strip of transparent tape. The center-taps are not used.
. The chassis is a piece of Formica or phenolic board about 4" x 2 1/2" x 1/16".
Depending on the size of the components, the chassis should fit into a small plastic box measuring about 4" x 2
1/2" x 3/4". Homemade printed circuitry was used on the model, but standard wiring will do just as well. Most of
the component leads are long enough to permit point-to-point wiring, but a transistor socket was used to prevent
possible damage to the transistor when soldering.
Coil L2 consists of six to nine turns of No. 26
insulated hookup wire wound on the "ground" end of L1 and spaced 1/16" from it. "Gimmick" capacitor C6 is made up
of two 1/2" lengths of insulated hookup wire twisted together several times to form a small capacitor.
It's a good idea to layout all parts and drill most of the holes in the chassis before starting assembly. Since
the wiring is relatively simple, you should be able to take your time and do a good job. As with any construction
project, time spent in careful wiring will payoff in the long run.
Parts are mounted on a phenolic board; R2 and C6 are on the reverse side.
. After ail parts have been mounted and soldered in place, double-check all connections. Now,
with the switch off and battery B1 in place, plug in the transistor. Turn on the set and rotate the volume control
to full on. Select a station, preferably the strongest one on the dial. Listen for distortion. If necessary,
either loosen the coupling in capacitor C6 by untwisting the leads slightly or by snipping off the leads bit by
bit until the distortion disappears.
Once adjusted, the set should be nearly as stable as the superhet in
your living room. And it's a safe bet that in sensitivity and portability this little unit will have few equals.
Coupling transformer T1 must be a miniature unit.
If Arqonne Type
AR-162 is used, it can be reduced
in size by removing the strap and laminations.