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Inventing the clockwork radio

The design story

Trevor Baylis wanted to make a radio that ran without mains electricity or batteries.

In his workshop at home - the classic inventor's den - he set about experimenting. Armed with the knowledge that a current is produced if you turn an electric motor by hand, Trevor tried coupling a hand-drill to a motor and connecting the wires to a small radio. When he turned the handle for the drill, the radio worked!

But having to stand and turn the handle to make the radio play was tiring and time-consuming. Trevor realised that he needed to find a way to store the energy and tried adding a clockwork mechanism. In his new clockwork machine, the handle wound up a spring. As the spring unwound, it released energy to power the radio.

The first working prototype ran for 14 minutes after 2 minutes of winding. Trevor Baylis had invented the clockwork radio.

Other clockwork designs

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Practical Action - Technology challenging povertyEuropean Commission - Department for International Development

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