Simple Wireless Communication

Students will use their knowledge of the electromagnetic spectrum to build a spark gap transmitter. The device generates pulses of radio waves that are detected by an AM radio receiver.

NGSS Standards

HS-PS2-5 Plan and conduct an investigation individually and collaboratively to produce data to serve as the basis for evidence, and in the design: decide on types, how much, and accuracy of data needed to produce reliable measurements and consider limitations on the precision of the data (e.g., number of trials, cost, risk, time), and refine the design accordingly.

HS-PS2-4 Forces at a distance are explained by fields (gravitational, electric, and magnetic) permeating space that can transfer energy through space. Magnets or electric currents cause magnetic fields; electric charges or changing magnetic fields cause electric fields.

HS-PS4.C Information Technologies and Instrumentation. Multiple technologies based on the understanding of waves and their interactions with matter are part of everyday experiences in the modern world and in scientific research. They are essential tools for producing, transmitting, and capturing signals and for storing and interpreting the information contained in them.


small boards (12"X12")

small blocks of wood

thin, bendable metal strips

magnet wire

3 inch iron screws

9 volt batteries

alligator clips


wood glue

duct tape

RTL-SDR dongle

morse code board

Key Words

Spark gap transmitter

radio frequencies



Downloadable Materials




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