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“My first observations positively terrified me as there was present in them something mysterious, not to say supernatural, and I was alone in my laboratory at night.” – Nikola Tesla, 1901

With Halloween just a few weeks away, it’s time to start laying out those devilish decorations for one of the more festive holidays on the calendar.  So for Patrick’s Picks this week, we’re going to look at some cool tech-inspired gadgets that you can use to spice up your home or office.

To start things off, here’s something that the kids will love.  It’s the DIY Spooky Tesla Spirit Radio, and here’s what it sounds like:

Now, admittedly, this one takes a steady hand and a good deal of patience to build, but when complete provides an awesomely creepy experience.  Basically it uses a simple crystal radio circuit connected to a computer sound-in jack to generate spooky sounds from all kinds of electromagnetic sources.  So creepy sounding, in fact, that it scared Nikola Tesla himself, saying in 1918:

“The sounds I am listening to every night at first appear to be human voices conversing back and forth in a language I cannot understand.  I find it difficult to imagine that I am actually hearing real voices from people not of this planet.  There must be a more simple explanation that has so far eluded me. “

As I mentioned, this will take a bit of time to make, and no shortage of materials.  However, anyone who fancies himself/herself a do-it-yourselfer shouldn’t have too much trouble making it happen.  The material list is as follows via Instructables:

  • 1- Small Jam Jar, (Mason Jar) with large mouth
  • 1- 3 1/4 inch dia Plexiglas (or polycarbonate) cover lid, 1/8 inch thick
  • 1- C1 – 60/160 pf Variable Capacitor (ComtrolAuto #VAR160-1)
  • 1- Extension Shaft and Knob for above (ComtrolAuto #ExtKnob-1)
  • 1- L1 –  680 uh Ferrite Loopstick Antenna (ComtrolAuto #LSA680-1)
  • 1- D1 – Germanium 1N34A Diode (*Allied Stock#: 935-0301) $2.16 ea
  • 1- C2 – .001uf Capacitor (marked 102) (*Allied Stock#: 507-0822) $.21 ea
  • 1- R1 – 47k Resistor (*Allied Stock#: 296-6641) $.05 ea
  • 1- Chassis Banana Jack Red – (*Allied Stock#: 528-0158) $.53 ea
  • 1- Chassis Banana Jack Black – (*Allied Stock#: 528-0159) $.53 ea
  • 2 – (or more for each antenna) Banana Plug (*Allied Stock#: 528-0302) $1.21
  • 2 -3.5 mm Mono Chassis Jack (*Allied Stock#: 932-0260) $1.16
  • A few inches of 20 gauge hook-up wire
  • Solder
  • 1- Audio Patch Cord, 1/8 inch plug endsTotal Cost, less than $30.

As far as tools go, you’ll need:

  • Needlenose pliers
  • Wire Cutter
  • Soldering iron
  • Computer w/ Audio Hijack audio software (Mac), or equivalent

Crystal radio parts and kits are available at

Full instructions on building and completing the radio can be found HERE at the Instructables website.

Once you’ve gotten your radio put together, check out the video below for all of the wild effects you can create on your own.  This is a perfect little DIY gadget for Halloween!

Halloween DIY: Nikola Tesla’s Spooky Spirit Radio  was originally published on