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The guts of my own Matsui PR37 pocket radio — I’ve had this guy for nearly a decade!


Working on the latest Weekend Projects Newsletter, about the Aircraft Band Receiver, sparked my own interest. Of course, like other readers, I had questions about hearing amplitude modulated (AM) sound on a FM-expanded receiver. And like any good blogger, within minutes, I had more opened tabs than I could deal with. I saved some as bookmarks, to filter through later, but then it dawned on me that the best place to ask questions would be at the forthcoming World Maker Faire next weekend in Queens, NYC. I did some quick research (more tabs!) and found several Faire projects all using radio to one degree or another.


The go-to source for my questions will be New York’s own Hall of Science Amateur Radio Club. Using homemade antennas, this group has successfully communicated with over 300 countries around the globe, bouncing their voices via AM radio off of the planet’s ionosphere (which FM can’t do). Look for them as a standalone project in Zone C at World Maker Faire.


Bring a radio with you or find one at NYSCI’s own Deconstruction Lab, located in Zone A in the NYSCI Village, at the Rocket Park. For ages 6 & up, find a radio there and actually take it apart. See its guts and then rip them out! One of the few projects at the Faire where “making” means deconstructing.


This iTrip was originally made to broadcast on FM radio (88-108MHz) using a since-discontinued line of iPod Nanos. When that hardware got replaced, these devices became obsolete. However, artist-hackers Ed Bear and Lea Bertucci have found a way to hack the devices, turning each one into an FM radio station for any device, using a standard stereo mini plug. Look for them giving workshops in Zone B, near the hackerspaces.


While you’re over near the hackerspaces, stop by North Brooklyn’s own Alpha One Labs and make a coin deposit in their Laser-duino-FRS. Your coin will interrupt a laser which triggers an Arduino to give a call-out over Family Radio Service (FRS), operating at 49MHz. They’ll be happy to tell you how they made this work.

And lastly, the Table for Electronic Dreams (inside the NY Hall of Science, 2nd floor, in the Viscusi Gallery) will visually respond to your radio’s electromagnetic “personality,” revealing hidden electrical activity. This project more than any other makes me imagine how happy Tesla would be to see that our devices really are alive.

And don’t forget, we want to see YOUR hacked radio projects here online. Especially if you hack an FM radio to tune into the aircraft band, we want to hear about it. Take photos of yourself in the field using it and tell us your stories. Send to the Weekend Projects email address.

Sign up below for the Weekend Projects Newsletter to access the projects before anybody else does, get tips, see other makers’ builds, and more.

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More:
See all of the RadioShack Weekend Projects posts (to date)

Nick Normal

Nick Normal

I’m an artist & maker. A lifelong biblioholic, and advocate for all-things geekathon. Home is Long Island City, Queens, which I consider the greatest place on Earth. 5-year former Resident of Flux Factory, co-organizer for World Maker Faire (NYC), and blogger all over the net. Howdy!


  • Travis Fredericks

    There aren’t even 200 countries in existence, let alone over 300.

    • Anonymous

      Travis, there are currently 341 different countries and “entities” recognized in the ham community:
      http://www.arrl.org/country-lists-prefixes

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=193107932 Elliot Murphy

      There are approximately 200 countries in existence, depending on how you define “country”. There are 193 member states of the UN and a few other “disputed” nations. Either way, 300 is certainly an error.

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=193107932 Elliot Murphy

      There are approximately 200 countries in existence, depending on how you define “country”. There are 193 member states of the UN and a few other “disputed” nations. Either way, 300 is certainly an error.

      • Anonymous

        Elliot, see the above link for a list of the 341 contacts that you can make….

      • Anonymous

        Elliot, see the above link for a list of the 341 contacts that you can make….

      • Anonymous

        Elliot, see the above link for a list of the 341 contacts that you can make….

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1015122985 Tom Moretto

    Hi, The people from the second photo are using homemade ‘arrow’ type antennas, these are made to work on 145 and 435 MHz. They must be having fun with one the amateur radio transponder hosted on satellites orbiting our lovely earth. Have a look at amast.org for more info about it.
    As amateur radio, we don’t use much AM anymore,except for contacts with old equipement,  more likely SSB (single side band) on shortwave, but here on these photo, definitely VHF/UHF range, FM or SSB.
    Amateur Radio is a whole new world to explore if you don’t know it. 
    Check http://www.arrl.org or http://www.rsgb.org or http://www.ref-union.org for you (including me) french people.
    Have fun !

    • Peter Simpson

      Tom meant to type “amsat.org”…

  • http://www.facebook.com/AC2AM Chris Drzewiecki

    Actually SSB is a form of AM.  AM has two sidebands and a carrier signal that is always there, even when there is no audio being transmitted.  SSB, or also known as SSB-SC (Single Sideband Suppressed Carrier), has the carrier removed and uses half the bandwidth of a normal AM (aka Double Sideband) signal which is more efficient and can be up to 4x as more power than a standard AM signal.

    -Chris (AC2AM)

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_54MQ5JEEFUVLQDTR2MBLS6FGDQ Ramona Fuller

    i cant believe this!! me and my sister just got two i-pads for $42.77 each and a $50 amazon card for $9. the stores want to keep this a secret and they dont tell you. 
    Go here, http://tinyurl.com/3qa436v

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_54MQ5JEEFUVLQDTR2MBLS6FGDQ Ramona Fuller

    i cant believe this!! me and my sister just got two i-pads for $42.77 each and a $50 amazon card for $9. the stores want to keep this a secret and they dont tell you. 
    Go here, http://tinyurl.com/3qa436v

  • http://www.facebook.com/aangotti2 Antonio Angotti

    Molto interessante, 73  cordiali  de  antonio