Crystal Radio DX Contests

Contest cartoon

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Building crystal sets is fun but operating them is more fun. Soon, once you hear a station over a few hundred miles, you think of how much further you can hear. DXing or unknown distance listening has been a hobby ever since radio began. My father did this in his teenage years in the mid thirties. A portion of his collection of qsl cards are on my site. Now it is my turn. He never talked about having a crystal set, but somehow I think he had one at sometime or another.

This page was written to help explain the hobby and perhaps garner a little interest with you, the reader. I have completed my fourth year entry in the Crystal Radio DX Contest. I have learned a lot between the first and fourth contests.

Starting in 2005, a second contest was added. This is the 1AD or One Active Device contest. The active device can be a semiconductor or a tube. Since I have made mostly tube sets, my entry is in that category. I have added the contests that I have entered below, just under the crystal set entries.

Below is my 2008 Sprint Contest Entry. The final view will be available around Oct 14, 2008.

My Entries

Here are the contests sponsored by the BAMA group. I have also partcipated in the RadioContest sponsored by The RadioBoard.

Crystal Radio Contest Entry 2003
Crystal Radio Contest Entry 2004
Crystal Radio Contest Entry 2005
Crystal Radio Contest Entry 2006
Crystal Radio Contest Entry 2007
Crystal Radio Contest Entry 2008
Crystal Radio Contest Entry 2009

Tube Radio Contest Entry 2005
Tube Radio Contest Entry 2006
Tube Radio Contest Entry 2007
Tube Radio Contest Entry 2008
Tube Radio Contest Entry 2009
Tube Radio Contest Entry 2010

2009 Sprint Contest Entry

Below I have prepared a list of what I felt is important to participate in a DX contest. The main idea is to have fun. If you knock yourself out or think you have to be #1, then it will be more like work than play.


Allow enough time. The contest runs for ten days. I recommend starting as soon as it starts. That way, if the conditions are lousy towards the end, you don't lose out. I would spend at least 12 hours headphone time. You can sort out the points later. Staying up after midnight is essential.

Know your equipment. It is important to know how your set tunes, and what happens as you adjust the distance between the coils and make other adjustments. Practice often and take notes.

Know the band. Learn how the broadcast band propagation works by checking your reception during different times. There are differences between the top and bottom of the band at any one time. This is due to the 3:1 frequency ratio between the top and bottom end of the band.

Know the Stations Spend some time listening to the different stations. This can be done with a regular radio. Learn the program networks , the music and even the announcers voices. This will help you find your place while you are tuning looking for a new catch.

Keep a Log. I started keeping a log of stations heard on my crystal set in the fall of 2003. Included in the log is the distance calculations, power level and contest points that would apply. This will help you identify stations during the contest. You need only to confirm that is the station that is coming in at that time.

Have a quiet location. When I am on the prowl, I turn off the computer because the fan masks the signals. Also close the door and do what ever you need to do to have it quiet. If you can, don't even breathe. :)

Share New Ideas One purpose of the contest is to try out new ideas. Perhaps you found a new technique or a diode that works better than the others. Get on the The RadioBoard forums and share the knowledge. If you have a web site, put it there.

Be Patient. After you know your radio is tuned correctly, sit there and wait for the signal to come to you. I have waited 10 or 15 minutes for a signal to come up in strength enough to call it a catch. Sometimes you have to try a different time.

DX at 3 in the morning cartoon

Crystal Radio DX Links

The summer RadioContest sponsored by The RadioBoard
FCC AM Station Database
Radio Locator
AM-LOG Lists of stations in alphabetical order
Clear channel station list
Station list with antenna patterns