WWII: British Spy Radio “B2”

The British Spy Radio 3MK2 or “B2” – photo by N6PF

My good friend Elliot, N6PF (who has one of the best callsigns going – “Pico Farad”), sent me a couple of pictures from a museum he visited in Paris.

Photo by N6PF

It is the British B2 spy radio used by the Allied Forces to send and receive messages during the final days of the German occupation of France (and other countries).

Naturally, being a Ham Radio operator, a radio historian of sorts, and having a German and British immigrant parents whose lives were partially defined by WWII, you might not be able to find something that gets all my gears going at once. OK, maybe throw in Man Ray and Henry Miller and the “Lost Generation” frequenting the cafes and bars leading up to WWII in the 30’s, and, well, I digress….

Elliot astutely posited that I might be able to find some inspiration in this spy rig, and holy moly was he right.

Leeds and Northrup RN-1 Wheatstone Bridge

When I saw the spy radio photo, my mind quickly went straight to the basement – (literally, my basement), where an RN-1 Wheatstone Bridge has been sitting quietly waiting for me to do something with it.

I purchased it a year or so ago, just because it looked too cool for school.

Its now going to be “re-purposed” as a spy radio. Maybe I will use the original B2 circuit, or maybe use a 1 or 2 watt modern circuit, but the look of the radio will be 100% vintage look and feel. Here is a “paraset”. One tube with 4 watts output – crystal controlled:


The Wheatstone Bridge uses industrial dials and equipment underneath that I’ll have to modify – most likely just use the knobs. I MUST use the meter, it is the coolest looking.

Next step will be to start studying QRP radio circuits and also look at the various “paraset” schematics. I especially like the idea of a 1 tube paraset circuit.

Funny how all these different facets line up where the sun and the parts are all equally fascinating. And more and more I think radio has to be the most revolutionary invention ever. Yes, at least as revolutionary as computers and the Internet … Maybe more.


One Comment on “WWII: British Spy Radio “B2”

  1. Being a fellow radio historian of sorts I feel so free to leave some links to my blog that are related to this subject. You’ve probabely read them already but other readers of your blog might not….


    One of the “items” I inherited from PA0DR is a typed “manual” how to work with a paraset.

    73, Bas PE4BAS

    Liked by 1 person

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