Kids in Uganda improvise a junk-radio

Kids in the Ugandan town of Masindi kludged together this awesome homebrew radio, scavenging parts from a broken set and improvising the speaker and power supply with a lot of verve and ingenuity.

Genius strikes again: kids in village build radio from scrap parts


  1. Not as impressive as I was hoping. They connected batteries and a speaker to a radio board. I was hoping they had built a radio from scratch or at least from basic components.

  2. They made a radio from a radio?

    “They say he carved it himself … from a bigger spoon.”

  3. I call “bastards” on the first four commenters. Try seeing this from a different world perspective, where there aren’t manuals for every gadget you own, and there sure as hell isn’t a Radio Shack down the street.

    You probably wouldn’t be terribly impressed if they built a rocket out of spare rocket parts and orbited the earth.

    1. Yeah, there are a lot of “meh-sayers” around these parts. For a child to with no electronics training to rearrange existing scrap electronics is still pretty impressive. Think of how many adults can’t figure out how to set up a computer or stereo system with parts that simply plug together.

  4. This stuff is always great to hear. People everywhere can adapt and re-use – it’s a testament to the human spirit.

    In this case I find a couple for slightly unsettling things. The narrator sounds like he’s from Michigan and while they had to improvise a radio – apparently they have a pretty decent video recorder and internet connection?!

    Also – a basic radio can be made from almost nothing but wire and a crystal so why bother with that big board?

    Still – kudos where kudos are due.

  5. Any body else notice the fresh mushrooms sitting on the table by the radio circuit? Yum!

  6. I suffered from the “I can fix it” curse for many years, still suffering, and while my tv doesn’t look like that any more , my car, computer, espresso machine …..

  7. The world is weird. MacBook Pro, broadband, light, sound, warmth etc and watching kids so poor they have to scrape together a radio from other people’s junk. Something isn’t right.

    1. Don’t worry Patrick. There have been significant oil and gas discoveries in Uganda this year. Operation Ugandan Freedom can’t be that far off.

  8. I was myself a little worried about the used jerry can as the speaker enclosure. Hopefully , those wires don’t short out.

  9. i’ve made a crystal radio from scratch several times in the past. they are surprisingly easy:

    These kids didn’t make a radio or in any way modify the radio circuit. all they did was hook new wires to the exact same place as the existing wires. the power is hooked where the power always was, the tuning knob was already there, the speaker is hooked to the same place the speaker previously was. this can all be done with virtually no understanding of how it works. just hook everything up in the same spots and voila.

    it is good to see parts that otherwise would be considered broken junk restored to working condition.

    the log cellphone charger, now that was cool:

  10. There are some drawbacks to making a foxhole radio. The parts have gotten really scarce, if there’s more than one station you hear them on top of each other, you have to be fairly close to the station and it’s hard to build it so that more than one person at a time can listen. The advantage is you never need a power source.

    I wonder how those kids figured out where the power goes and how they soldered the connections. I suppose you could use a fire and a nail sticking out of the end of a piece of wood. But no matter what I’m pleased they figured it all out. Good job!

  11. #17 – Actually, the parts are super common and most of them can be substituted with other super common parts. Granted they only pick up AM stations, which do not broadcast in overlapping frequencies/ranges. You tune to a specific frequency. when tuned in, i’ve never head overlapping stations even in the city.

    Even if you don’t have to remove stubs of the original wire or just twist onto them, it is very obvious on most boards it is really obvious where the power and speakers connect.

    Don’t get me wrong, I’m super happy to see resourceful folks taking something that otherwise would be garbage and returning it to a condition that works for them. Kudos for reusing/recycling parts. That is the most impressive part of this story.

    This isn’t in any way technologically impressive, at least to me. If I took a working car that didn’t have a battery or gas, and put a battery where the battery goes, and the gas where the gas goes, and it worked, no one would say i created a working car from scraps. that is essentially what they did.

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