Portal received one of the most cryptic game patches in history today, simply stating in the changelog “Changed radio transmission frequency to comply with federal and state spectrum management regulations.” Your first thought, like mine, is likely “what the hell?” Well, some gamers quickly noticed an associated new achievement with the patch, titled “Transmission Received.” I’m not going to go into the huge effort to decode all the stuff coming out of this patch, including viral videos, encoded images, and lots of hints at a new Valve game, possibly Half-Life 2: Episode 3 or Portal 2. That’s being dealt with elsewhere (as well as the hard work behind this walkthrough), so here I just plan to provide an easy to follow game guide to walk you through how to obtain this new achievement and unlock a little of the mystery.
To begin, this achievement deals with 26 radios scattered throughout the game. All you have to do is find each radio and bring it to a certain point of the associated puzzle, such as the exit to the next area of a big red button so often used to unlock something. When you do, the radio will cease playing music and begin playing…something else. Sometimes it’s Morse code, other times it’s images encoded using the fax protocol. What exactly the radios are playing is what all the fuss in the above Steam forum thread is about, but for our purposes here, that’s when you know you’re near your goal. Typically by that point you’ll unlock a part of the achievement.
Got that? Find radios; carry them to a goal of some kind; profit. Sure sounds easy. Of course, this is Portal, so we can expect some twists.
Finally, I want to thank everyone in the original forum thread mentioned above as well as everyone who left a comment below for all your help, corrections, and hints at polishing this howto.
Radio 1/26 (Test Chamber 00/19):
The first radio is of course the easiest. When you awake in your cell you’ll immediately hear it and see it sitting on the table. Grab it and carry it with you into the next room. Once you step on the giant red button, the achievement will unlock 1/26 and you can drop it and continue.
Radio 2/26 (Test Chamber 01/19):
After getting off the elevator between the first and second puzzles, you’ll approach a ledge. Before you step off this ledge, peak immediately to your right and you’ll find the second radio sitting on top a security camera. You can either reach this by scooting as close as you can with your left foot seemingly off the edge, or by jumping and grabbing it in mid-air. Either way, grab it and you’ll see a revolving portal in the room below. Drop the radio in the room with the button for the moment and go through the puzzle as normal. After you acquire a cube and beat this puzzle, grab the radio, approach the button, and you’ll unlock part 2/26.
Radio 3/26 (Test Chamber 02/19):
After obtaining the blue portal gun and exiting the orange portal, turn around and you’ll see the radio sitting on top a wall. Shoot the blue portal on the ceiling above the ledge and step through the orange portal to pick up the radio. You’ll unlock the achievement after jumping down and stepping on the platform on the floor below marked with arrows that you originally grabbed the blue portal gun off.
Radio 4/26 (Test Chamber 03/19):
The next radio is easy enough to spot towards the end, and easy enough to grab. Sitting atop the security camera overlooking the exit, you can shoot a blue portal above it and grab it, or grab it while falling. Easiest of all, you can just shoot one behind the camera, which will cause it and the radio to fall to the ground for easy pickings. The harder part is finding the precise location where the transmission unlocks the achievement, which is actually mid-air. It may take a few tries, but put the blue portal where you see it on the ceiling in the second screenshot below and jump through the orange portal and you’ll unlock 4/26 in no time.
Radio 5/26 (Test Chamber 04/19):
The fifth radio is pretty easy. It’ll drop from the suspended box along with the cube you need to complete this puzzle. Just grab the radio and head back to the elevator that brought you to this level. A few steps from it you’ll unlock the achievement.
Radio 6/26 (Test Chamber 05/19):
The sixth radio isn’t hard to find, but it’s tricky to grab at first. You’ll immediately see it in the room you enter after pressing both buttons, which you must enter to complete the puzzle. However, the door locks behind you and any portals you shoot into the room disappear once you enter it, so the trick here is to shoot a blue portal on the floor under the radio after you open the door, letting it fall to the platform hanging under the orange portal. After you grab it, take it into the pit where you found one of the cubes to get credit for this one.
Radio 7/26 (Test Chamber 06/19):
The seventh radio is a little tricky to spot, but not too hard to grab. It’s hidden on top the ledge holding the device that shoots the energy balls. You can see it peeking out in the screenshot below. Just place a blue portal like I did (after completing the puzzle) and you’ll be able to reach through the orange portal and pick up the radio. Take it with you to the exit to unlock the achievement.
Radio 8/26 (Test Chamber 07/19):
Grabbing the eighth radio just requires crouching and crawling under the staircase you walk down to enter this puzzle. Carry it with you to the exit elevator to unlock the achievement.
Radio 9/26 (Test Chamber 08/19):
The ninth radio is another you may simply grab through an open portal. It’s hidden under the ledge shown in the following screenshot, so just shoot a blue portal behind it and you’ll be able to grab it through the orange portal. Just make sure to crouch so the energy ball doesn’t zap you. Once you have it shoot a blue portal back to the entrance area and carry it with you. You’ll unlock the achievement as you near the elevator you came in on, in front of the sign telling you what level you’re on.
Radio 10/26 (Test Chamber 09/19):
Next up is another jumping one. While standing on the platform under the orange portal, shoot the blue portal above the radio as shown in the below screenshot. Quick Save to save yourself some time if you don’t get it on your first try, assuming you don’t enjoy repetitive and frustrating activities. Once you jump through the orange portal, either try grabbing the radio or knocking it off the platform into the room with the large red button. Your enemy here is your alignment to the radio and lack of control while falling. It may take a few tries to orient yourself so you’re facing it properly while falling, but overall this is an easy one. After finishing the puzzle carry the radio with you to the exit elevator to knock this achievement out.
Radio 11/26 (Test Chamber 10/19):
Next up is the puzzle introducing you to portal momentum. In the second room you come across the radio will be readily visible on a ledge on your left side. Place the blue portal as shown below, hugging the bottom of the panel and the wall the radio is on. Jump through the orange portal, and you can either grab the radio or pretty easily knock it off its ledge while mid-air. Carry it to the bottom of the pit, next to the orange portal, to get one step closer to this elusive achievement of portaly happiness.
Radio 12/26 (Test Chamber 11/19):
The 12th radio is another one you can just grab and go. After you reach the middle platform and grab the orange portal gun part, note the radio sitting just outside the door leading to the exit. This door is timed so you actually won’t be able to reach the radio by entering the room. Instead, shoot a portal just next to the door as shown, and then ride the elevator back to the wall where you can shoot the other portal. As you reach the wall, quickly poke through and grab the radio. The period that the moving platform remains at the wall is very brief, so don’t worry if it leaves without you. Remain motionless and you can balance on the wall while it comes back. Ride it back to the center platform where you found the orange half of the gun to wrap this one up.
Radio 13/26 (Test Chamber 12/19):
The 13th radio is the best hidden so far. Once you reach the very end but before you exit, stand on the edge of the platform and you’ll see just a bit of the movable wall beneath you sticking out. Crouch and drop onto the movable wall and look back; the radio is on one of the arms holding the movable wall up. Grab it and carry it back to the big red button, then run along the back wall behind the button to continue.
Radio 14/26 (Test Chamber 13/19):
This next radio is readily visible as soon as you enter the door from the entrance room. During the course of completing the puzzle you’ll have to power up the moving platform and access it to get the cube sitting on it. While on the platform you can grab the radio, then it’s jut a matter of returning to the catwalk in the entrance room for credit.
Radio 15/26 (Test Chamber 14/19):
The 15th radio is actually kind of fun to get. It’s on a ledge above the right wall leading to the door you must open once you obtain a cube. Start by shooting one portal just under it as shown, then run up the stairs in the opposite direction. After you reach the top of the stairs they’ll drop, providing you with a pit. Shoot your other portal into the bottom of the pit and jump through; the momentum will be enough to shoot you out of your first portal and within reach of the radio. In the second screenshot below you can see the pit below you, with my first portal under the radio in the distance.
Don’t worry if you miss the first time. Thanks to the fact both portals are on the floor, you’ll just bounce between them indefinitely until you move to one side or another. So, just lay off the directional keys and focus on orienting yourself with the mouse. As previously, Quick Save (in case you hit your portal at an angle and launch out at an odd direction), and assuming a good line-up, smash your use button until you grab the radio or knock it down. Keep it with you until the next room of the puzzle, which will have a three-platform jumping puzzle. As you reach the middle platform you’ll get credit for this achievement.
Radio 16/26 (Test Chamber 15/19):
Radio 16 is another you can just reach through and grab, or grab/knock down while falling past, depending on your style. It’s on top of the arm holding up the movable wall you launch yourself off of to get through the barrier in the first room of the puzzle. Take the radio back to the starting elevator to make it count.
Radio 17/26 (Test Chamber 15/19):
The 17th radio is by far the toughest to get so far since it requires not just precise shooting, but also quick timing. Basically, as the screenshot below shows the radio is trapped in the small room behind the twin timed doors that you must get an energy ball through. After you get the energy ball through, next you have to get yourself through. Basically, part one is setting up portals so you can quickly move between the two button rooms. Have a portal in the other room and one just behind you. Hit one button, immediately jump through to the other room, and then hit the second button. This is where the second part kicks in.
You only have a few seconds before the timed doors close, so quickly run to the edge of the button room you’re in. You need to shoot one portal on the floor just under the opening to the room with the radio and your second portal just under you (avoiding the platforms that take you up to the button rooms of course). Jump off the ledge and your momentum will shoot you up so you can land inside the room with the radio. The doors will crush you, so get through quickly and grab the precious. You’ll be stuck, but that’s fine; an emergency hatch will open under you and let you out. Carry the radio with you to the exit to wrap this one up.
Radio 18/26 (Test Chamber 16/19):
Radio 18 is apparently Valve’s apology for the previous one. You’ll find it in a room towards the end of the level on top a stack of cubes. Just grab it and backtrack a few rooms to the not-so-well-hidden “secret” room behind the movable walls.
Radio 19/26 (Test Chamber 17/19):
The 19th radio is under one of the panels you need to raise to complete this level. It’s pretty easy; after raising all three platforms just grab the radio and take it with you along with your companion cube. You’ll get credit when you reach the area where you’re forced to commit one of the saddest actions imaginable.
You’re a monster if you can bring yourself to continue playing further.
Radio 20/26 (Test Chamber 18/19):
The 20th radio is the hardest yet. Finding the radio is simple; along the way through the level you’ll see the opening below on the left side, with the radio sitting inside on the staircase. The real fun is finding where the hell to register it for the achievement. You’re welcome, that’s all I have to say.
After grabbing the radio, continue on for two more platforms. On the second platform, turn back towards the previous one (where you heard static, the platform between you and the platform you found the radio on) and note the outcropping on the ceiling shown in the third screenshot. Drop a portal in the corner on the ceiling above as shown, pop your second portal, then either drop down carrying the radio or drop the radio in itself and you’ll get credit once it hits the ledge. Of course, Quick Save before trying this in case you or the radio bounce and the achievement doesn’t register…because the only thing left for you/it to do is fall to the water below if you miss.
Radio 21/26 (Test Chamber 18/19):
The next radio is very easy, at least when compared to the puzzle required to beat the level itself. Upon entering the room full of platforms, turrets, and watery death below, there’s a box containing an energy orb receptacle to your left. There’s also a platform far below you on your right.
The radio is on top that box to your left. The easiest way to get it is to drop one portal on the floor next to the box, then jump off the right edge of the platform to the landing below. While falling, or ahead of time for those who don’t like the occasional risk, drop your other portal so you shoot out of your first one with plenty of momentum to spare, gaining access to the radio. Keep it on you while you access the lower deck of the two level structure across the way (the one with the small button controlling the timed movable panel) to get credit.
Radio 22/26 (Test Chamber 18/19):
Next up is a jumping puzzle Portal style. There’s a pit to your immediate left upon entering the room leading to the level exit (visible in the first screenshot below as I fall towards it). This pit is essential in completing the level and just so happens to house the levels final radio as well. For now though, leave it be and complete the level as normal. Once you reach the exit, peek over the edge of the platform and you’ll be able to see just a bit of the wall back on the bottom floor as you can see in the second screenshot. Shoot a portal down there and one near the exit and dive in. Drop back into the pit one last time, grab the radio, and shoot a portal (hint: not the one near the exit) for a quick and easy completion.
Radio 23/26 (Test Chamber 19/19):
The next one may appear difficult, but is actually fairly easy to get to, along the lines of what it took to get the second radio. After you save yourself from the furnace, look into the pit of fire below and focus on the right wall. You’ll spot the radio sitting on a ledge. Just shoot a portal next to it and one near yourself and you can grab it with little effort. Just be sure to Quick Save first, just in case you step out too far. The fire is unforgiving because it knows what you did to your companion cube.
The more difficult part is turning it in. There’s nothing terribly difficult, but you’ll have to lug the radio with you for a few minutes until you enter an office deeper in the building. During normal play it’s easy to bypass the office since the first door you come across is locked, so you can just portal across the way and continue on without checking out the office, now accessible, behind you. The second screenshot below shows the office from the locked side; after crossing the room as normal make sure to backpedal and turn in the radio at the office.
Radio 24/26 (Escape):
You’re almost there! The 24th radio is a little out of the way but pretty easy over all. You’ll soon come to a room with five massive crushers that bounce to the ceiling and return. When you do, turn back and you’ll see the side path shown below on your left (it’s on my right because I took the screenshot just prior to entering the room with the crushers). The bottom floor is fenced off, but you can shoot a portal on the wall on the other side of the fence to get around it. Run down the new path and you’ll find a small room entrance on your right side. Just inside is the radio. You’ll have to keep the radio with you for a bit, but there isn’t anything special required to turn it in. Shortly after finding it you’ll come across another room with four smaller crushers, two vertical and two horizontal. Once you reach the concrete landing directly on top of the vertical crushers, which you do during the normal course of beating the puzzle, you’ll get credit for the radio.
Radio 25/26 (Escape):
The second to last, or penultimate (sorry, but I NEVER get to use this word), radio is hard to miss. Shortly after getting credit for your last one you’ll find a room separated with a fence and what appears to be a turret lab on the other side. As you progress normally, just grab the radio off the table next to the turret with the functioning laser sight and move on. Soon after you’ll enter a room where you’ll see a note on the wall pointing that you need to go up, and just next to that note is an entrance to a small room, as you can see in the second screenshot below. Carry the radio into that small room to make it count.
Radio 26/26 (Escape):
Whew. Can you taste it yet? That is victory, good sir. The final radio is fairly easy. Shortly before the final confrontation, a few minutes after your last radio, you’ll come across a large room where you’ll be ambushed by a number of turrets revealed through opened hatches on the walls all around you. The floor will have a large ditch in it. When you reach this room, dispatch of all the turrets as you normally would. After that, run around the ditch and you’ll find the radio sitting in there. Grab it and lay it in the middle of the floor where it’s readily visible, then continue as normal. It’s very difficult so carry the radio with you through the jumps you have to do here, so don’t even try. After you reach the ledge you need to, drop a portal next to you, then shoot your other one on the floor under the radio and bring it to you. You’ll have to repeat this trick on the next jumping puzzle which is similar, just of smaller scale. Shortly after this second jumping puzzle, you’ll come across a room with steam venting overhead and green industrial equipment ahead of you. You’ll get credit for the achievement, once and for all, as you approach the green equipment.