[Dept. of Computer Science]

The EF80 Radio (1996)

Our Department and University.
See my other radios too! (Here is the next one.)

A radio of my own design and construction.

Data for this radio
Type Tuned Radio Frequent Radio (`Rechtuit' in Dutch)
Band Medium Wave, circa 600-1400 kHz.
Cabinet Wood, size 36.5x28x17 cm
(former loudspeaker box).
Tubes 6x EF80 (1st and 2nd RF,
det., 1st AF, 2x out), AZ1 (Rect.).
Controls Volume/off, tone, tune, attenuator.
Produced 1996, The Netherlands.

The Design

A friend moving out of town cleared his attic and gave me a box of 50 electron tubes, among which there were 18 of type EF80. This inspired a radio-building project, aimed at constructing a radio containing EF80 as the only tube; but as the EF80 does not make a good rectifier, I included one other tube (the AZ1). I didn't have to economise on tubes so I planned for seven of them.

Besides the tube line-up, I aimed for two more design criteria. Second, I wanted to do myself as much as possible: so I chose for handwound coils. Third, I wanted to use recycled parts as much as possible to allow many scrapped apparatus to donate some organs to the project. This explains for the cabinet (scrapped loudspeaker box) and the power cord (three-prone from refridgerator).

It was a real headache to design the thing (Henk Tattje was a great help in reviewing the schematic), but designing and constructing your own radio is a lot of fun. This thrill when it plays for the first time!

The Schematics

The schematic diagram shows two radio-frequent amplification stages (V1 and V2), followed by a plain and simple diode detector. Coupling between antenna and each of these stages is through a transformer, of which the secondary is tuned (there is a three-gang tuning capacitor). The diode detector is, of course, an EF80 penthode, V3, but simulating a diode with all electrodes except the kathode connected together. Because there is no Automatic Gain Control (the EF80 is `straight'), there is a manually adjustable attenuator P1 between the antenna and the first tube.

The audio-frequent pre-amplifier is an EF80, and the output stage is planned for two EF80's connected in parallel to increase output power. The power supply is fairly standard but noteworthily it uses 50 year old electrolytics from a Philips radio, that still had their original capacity and almost no leakage.


With the three abovementioned disign criteria in mind, it would alomost be a miracle if the performance were particularly good. It took me several evenings to actually build the chassis as shown here:

It was very difficult to keep the radio from oscillating; I had to bend a few wires in the HF section, and the LF part always oscillates if I place EF80's in both output tube sockets. So I use the set with only one output tube.

The radio plays and receives about 20-30 stations in the evening. Selectivity is rather poor, especially on the lower part of the MW band. This performance results from the handwound coils; their Q is lower than that of factory coils, and it is difficult to match their inductance precisely so that the synchrony between the three tuned circuits is difficult to achieve.

After all, the performance is hardly better than what can be achieved with a single tube, but to build this thing was a lot of fun.

Gerard Tel, gerard@cs.uu.nl