The Aristocrat Crystal Set

Tom Kipgen Designer Crystal Radio Main View

Many styles of induction coils are works of art in themselves and it is a shame that most are tucked away out of sight. One of the most spectacular is featured on this new art deco radio which was wound by John Bruckner who is an expert on winding many types of coils. This one measures 3 ½” in diameter which dictated a relatively tall front panel in which to mount it. And the panel is perfectly balanced with a dial scale of the same diameter on the other side of the set and both are mounted under convex glass crystals. Elegance is underscored by the use of Red Wood Burl for the front panel which has a good expanse between the crystals to show it off to good effect.

The top panel is of curly maple as are all three knobs and the glass crystal bezels. The knobs are topped with the same Red Wood Burl as the front panel. All wood surfaces were stained with red mahogany lacquer toner and then shaded with a darker version of the same. Everything was finished with clear nitro cellulose lacquer for a fine shine reminiscent of the high end radios of the 1920’s and 30’s. The tuning scale came from RADIO VOGUE and represents one of the best from 1936.

This is a crystal receiver and the user has the choice of detecting signals using the cat’s whisker stand located in the front-center of the top panel. This detector stand was designed and fabricated by me and features a steel shaft polished to 2,000 grit which is held by a brass ball that was sliced in half and mounted on either side of the shaft and then housed in the brass cap. This cap holds an ‘O’ ring and applies precise operating pressure on the shaft by tightening or loosening the brass cap. An argentiferous galena crystal is mounted in the brass cup although pyrite can be used as well with good results. Detection can also be accomplished with a diode by selecting it with the knife switch located on the back-center of the top panel. This very functional and elegant switch was designed and built by myself using solid brass stock.

The circuit is double tuned using matching 365pF variable capacitors controlled with the knobs located on the top panel. That on the left operates the antenna tuning capacitor while that on the right does the main tuning. Since this knob turns a vertical shaft bevel gears had to be installed in order for this action to be transmitted to the horizontal dial shaft. A 2:1 gear ration was required in order to use the 360 degree dial scale and it was surprisingly difficult for me to figure out if I needed a clockwise dial or counterclockwise. Walking and chewing gum also gives me trouble.

Programs can be listened to with headphones or with the small speaker located below the solid brass speaker grill on the top panel. A low voltage amplifier is powered by a 9 volt battery accessed on the back panel. The radio stands 7 ¼” tall, is 4 ½ inches deep and is 15” long.

Tom Kipgen Designer Crystal Radio Top View
Tom Kipgen Designer Crystal Radio Side View
Tom Kipgen Designer Crystal Radio Rear View
Tom Kipgen Designer Crystal Radio Inside View