How to Build a Shortwave Radio

Kits and Homebrew Radios Have Character and Quality

There are two ways to build a workable short wave radio. The choices involve building a radio from scratch or purchasing a kit with parts and plans included. Each technique has its own merits and its up your personal preference to decide.

Choose a Kit for Convenience or ‘From Scratch’ for Cost

Building from a plan is less expensive but a design must be chosen and parts have to be ordered and tested. Make a copy of the old Zenith “Oceanic” model with most parts available from Radio Shack. Those desiring a kit project should investigate the Ten-Tec series of kits at The are wonderful, easy to build radios.

Get a Copy of the Plans

Download and print all plans and diagrams from Most parts are available from Radio Shack though some parts may have to be ordered elsewhere. Check that you have access to all the tools listed. This kit can be built in a weekend. Have an unobstructed work area.

Build the Cabinet and Wind the Coils

Prepare the cabinet by copying and printing the face decal. Glue it onto the face of the plastic cabinet. Wear eye safety wear and drill the cabinet holes as necessary. Test that the knobs will fit comfortably about the radio.

Build and wind the coils that switch frequencies. This is the most sensitive part of the project. Winding coils must be built exactly as prescribed or reception will be adversely affected. Make certain that the winding is even and tight. Take your time and proceed carefully. Check your work.

Solder Your Work-Carefully!

Solder carefully with lead-free solder. Avoid cold soldering a joint and test every connection immediately after it is made. After completing a section retest the connections. Bad soldering will be the most likely cause of problems when testing the completed project. When assembly is completed review the entire project and make certain connections are correctly formed. File any rough edges.

Use the Best Antenna You Can Find

The choice of antenna should fit your surroundings. The best reception will come from an outdoor piece of long random wire. A very respectable indoor antenna will come from a six foot telescoping antenna mounted to a bracket. Tune the station and test the radio by tuning stations on the AM and Shortwave bands.

A Few Last Points to Consider

Order the parts and check them carefully for proper specifications and damage before beginning construction.

  • Separate all parts by type and capacity.
  • Proceed carefully.
  • Do not attempt to finish the project without checking your work.
  • Do not use lead based solder.