Carl Burks is a software developer for a global financial institution. With over ten years experience in technology and software development for financial organizations and over twenty years of software experience, Carl Burks provides articles, musings and insight into technology issues, software development, and other selected topics.

Side Projects


Carl Burks

WW II Radio

My parents came to visit this weekend. He brought oldest boys a radio kit. One was a WW II fox hole radio and the other was a crystal radio. I've hooked up a lot of crystal radios and never really gotten a radio signal from any of them, so I started helping them put together the WW II style one. It uses a pencil lead and a razor to make a diode. A tube slightly larger in diameter from a bathroom tissue roll serves as a winding aid for the air coil. Some sand paper across the coating of coil in a line allows for making a connection and tuning. I hooked it up and once again I could only hear a popping noise. I tried numerous things. Clipping the ground to a cold water pipe. Making a long antenna. Nothing seemed to improve it. So I waited for night and tried to repeat. I've built FM tuners which have a power source and they worked. At least I heard something this time.

Guitar pickup.

I ordered the same wire used fender which was much thinner than my first coil. Since my father was in town and we had made one coil for the radio project I had him hold the wire spool as I rewound the coil with the thinner wire. It took several times to get the tension right but soon we fell into a groove where we didn't break the hair thin wire. Once we had finished I hooked up some crocodile clips and held it over the guitar. It sounded as loud as the built in pickup. I unscrewed the case and looked at the prewired pick guard. The guitar I was playing with was an inexpensive Ammooon guitar I had gotten with the intent to fully customize. I had to clip the strings to take the guard off. I realized when I built the coil originally I had made it for the depth of a cigar box not for a routed strat style guitar. The coil was too big. So now I will probably need to make a smaller one or cut out more of the wood.