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My new, improved The new, improved

One Transistor FM Radio Radio Shack Special FM Radio


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See the new improved version on Patrick's web

A printed circuit board for the original circuit is available through FAR Circuits. Ask them for
"Andy Mitz's One transistor FM radio printed circuit board". The same circuit board can be
modified for the improved one transistor radio.


AM radio circuits and kits abound. Some work quite well. But, look around and you will find
virtually no FM radio kits. Certainly, there are no simple FM radio kits. The simple FM radio
circuit got lost during the transition from vacuum tubes to transistors. In the late 1950s and early
1960s there were several construction articles on building a simple superregenerative FM radio.
After exhaustive research into the early articles and some key assistance from a modern day guru
in regenerative circuit design, I have developed this simple radio kit. It is a remarkable circuit. It
is sensitive, selective, and has enough audio drive for an earphone. Read more about theory
behind this radio on the low-tech FM page.



Except the the circuit board and battery, all parts are from Mouser Electronics. A complete parts
list with stock numbers is listed below. The circuit board is available through FAR Circuits. The
variable capacitor is available through Electronix Express.


Because this is a superregenerative design, component layout can be very important. The tuning
capacitor, C3, has three leads. Only the outer two leads are used; the middle lead of C3 is not
connected. Arrange L1 fairly close to C3, but keep it away from where your hand will be. If your
hand is too close to L1 while you tune the radio, it will make tuning very difficult.

L1 sets the frequency of the radio, acts as the antenna, and is the primary adjustment for super-
regeneration. Although it has many important jobs, it is easy to construct. Get any cylindrical
object that is just under 1/2 inch (13 mm) in diameter. I used a thick pencil from my son's grade
school class, but a magic marker or large drill bit work just fine. #20 bare solid wire works the
best, but any wire that holds its shape will do. Wind 6 turns tightly, side-by-side, on the cylinder,
then slip the wire off. Spread the windings apart from each other so the whole coil is just under
an inch (2.5 cm) long. Find the midpoint and solder a small wire for C2 there. Mount the ends of
the wire on your circuit board keeping some clearance between the coil and the circuit board.


C3 does not come with a knob and I have not found a source. A knob is important to keep your
hand away from the capacitor and coil when you tune in stations. The solution is to use a #4
nylon screw. Twist the nylon screw into the threads of the C3 tuning handle. The #4 screw is the
wrong thread pitch and will jam (bind) in the threads. This is what you want to happen. Tighten
the screw just enough so it stays put as you tune the capacitor. The resulting arrangement works
quite well.


If the radio is wired correctly, there are three possible things you can hear when you turn it on: 1)
a radio station, 2) a rushing noise, 3) a squeal, and 4) nothing. If you got a radio station, you are
in good shape. Use another FM radio to see where you are on the FM band. You can change the
tuning range of C3 by squeezing L1 or change C1. If you hear a rushing noise, you will probably
be able to tune in a station. Try the tuning control and see what you get. If you hear a squeal or
hear nothing, then the circuit is oscillating too little or too much. Try spreading or compressing
L1. Double check your connections. If you don't make any progress, then you need to change
R4. Replace R4 with a 20K or larger potentiometer (up to 50K). A trimmer potentiometer is best.
Adjust R4 until you can reliably tune in stations. Once the circuit is working, you can remove the
potentiometer, measure its value, and replace it with a fixed resistor. Some people might want to
build the set from the start with a trimmer potentiometer in place (e.g., Mouser 569-72PM-25K).


Many of the parts are fairly common and might already be in your junk box. Only certain
component values are critical. The RF choke should be in the range of 20 to 30 uh, although
values from15 to 40 uh might work. The tuning capacitor value is not critical, but if you use
values below 50 pf you should reduce or remove C1. The circuit is designed for the high
impedance type earphone. Normal earphones can be used, but the battery drain is much greater
and the circuit must be changed. To use normal earphones, change R3 to 180 ohms. Q1 can be
replace with any high-frequency N-channel JFET transistor, but only the 2N4416, 2N4416A, and
J310 have been tested. A MPF102 probably will work. C2 is not too critical; any value from 18
to 27 pf will work. C7 is fairly critical. You can use a .005 or .0047 uf, but don't change it much
more than that.



Chris Iwata recommended some design changes that greatly improve the audio circuit, making it
strong enough for regular earphones or even a small speaker. The same FAR printed circuit
board can be used with some modifications. The circuit board is important to make sure the
tuning end of the radio works properly, so the audio amplifier changes can be squeezed onto the
circuit board without fear of wrecking radio operation. Look closely at the new schematic for the
new components and some changed component values.



Click here for a PDF version of the schematic. You can also make this into a simple CB radio
receiver. See this PDF file.

! " 

Click here for a PDF version of the schematic.

!  #


The printed circuit board for the original One Transistor FM Radio is available through:

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+%(,-% './(%01 2


4  # 

Some wiring notes:

’| Unless you have experience with super-regenerative radios, I highly recommend using
the FAR Circuits printed circuit board.
’| Connect the two sections of the variable capacitor (C3) in series to linearize the tuning
somewhat. That is, use the connections on either end of C3 and don't use the middle lead.
’| L2, the RF choke should not be near a ground. The same is true for L1. Capacitance to
ground will disturb the feedback.
The gain is just enough to drive an earphone. If you live too far away from radio stations,
you might have trouble hearing one. There is no option here for an external antenna (that
would require and extra transistor).
’| You can drive a speaker if you add an external audio amplifier.
’| If you want a little more audio gain, or you cannot locate a TL431CLP chip, you can use
some other audio amplifier in the circuit where pins 1 and 2 of D1 normally connect. You
can use an LM386 or a TDA7052 audio amplifier. Quasar DIY project kit #3027 is a
complete TDA7052 audio amplifier kit and it works fine in this application.



!   -

All parts except the RF tuning capacitor can be obtained from

Mouser Electronics

The RF tuning capacitor can be obtained from

Electronix Express
In New Jersey 1-732-381-8020


10 pf, 50 v, ceramic disc

C1a,C1b 140-50N5-100J
C2 22 pf, 50 v, ceramic disc 140-50N5-220J
C3 RF tuning capacitor N14VCRF10-280P
330 pf, 50 v, ceramic disc
C4 140-50P2-331K
0.001 uf, 50 v, ceramic disc
C5,C8 140-50P2-102K
C6 0.22 uf, 50 v, film capacitor 140-PF1H224K
0.0047 uf, 50 v, ceramic disc
C7 140-50P5-472K
22 uf, 16 v, electrolytic
C9 140-XRL16V22
TL431AIZ voltage control
D1 511-TL431AIZ
Zener (shunt regulator)
EPH1 High impedance earphone 25CR060
L2 22 uh RF choke 542-70F225
Q1 2N4416A JFET transistor 510-2N4416A
R1 470K, 1/4 w, resistor 291-470K
R2, R3 1K, 1/4 w, resistor 291-1K
R4 10K, 1/4 w, resistor 291-10K
R5 1M, 1/4 w, resistor 291-1M
R6 100 ohm, 1/4 w, resistor 291-100
S1 Small SPST switch 10SP003
screws for mounting C3 (2
screws for C3 48SS03
#4 nylon screw used for tuning
nylon screw 561-T0440037
battery connector mini battery snap 12BC025

Please feel free to send me questions and comments at

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Last updated 21 December 2004

Andrew R. Mitz
All circuits, text, photographs, and other graphics are copyright (c) 1998-2004 LTJ Designs.