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This simple Instructable will show you how to upcycle a cassette-equipped radio, and turn it into an attractive Decopunk iPod rig.

Once I decorated my iPod Classic with a steampunk case, and created a Steampunk iPod Classic stand from a tostonera, I decided I needed an appropriate device to listen to my morning podcasts while making my coffee.

This Instructable will not tell you how to build a radio from scratch, but rather how to combine two store-bought items into a stylish and functional speaker system for your MP3 player. This rig is not designed to charge or sync your iPod, but with a few simple modifications, I'm sure both could be accomplished.

Of course this is purely decorative and aesthetic. If you're just looking for functionality, you might want to look at the Instructable Upcycling a cassette boom box.

What is "Decopunk" you may be wondering? Decopunk is a sub-genre of Dieselpunk. According to wikipedia, "DieselPunk is a gritty version of Steampunk set in the 1920s-1950s... DecoPunk is the sleek, shiny very Art Deco version" of Dieselpunk.

Since the radio I used for this build is a reproduction of an Art Deco radio from the 1930s, I think that "Decopunk" best describes this rig.

Materials:
• Side loading cassette-equipped radio
• Cassette adaptor
• Shoe lace
• Metallic paint
• Shrink tubing

Tools:
• Soldering iron
• Lighter
• Scissors
• Screw driver
• Tweezer
 
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Step 1: Select a radio/cassette player

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I came across this beautiful Art Deco style vintage radio and cassette player at a local thrift store. Part of the "Thomas Collector Edition Radio" series, it was going for $20 bucks. This was a little too much for me to spend on an old cassette radio at the time, especially one that had an "As Is" sign on it, so I didn't buy. But the more I thought about it, this was the perfect radio for this project. But when I returned a few days later, it had been sold!

So I hopped onto eBay, and after some searching, bought the the exact same radio for $12 bucks...But then I had to pay $15 shipping. Moral of the story: If you see something you like in a thrift store, buy it!;-)

One thing that is perfect about this radio is that the cassette side loads, so there's no lid to close on the wire.

Ironically this cassette player, which was made in the 1980s, in a style of the 1930s, is perfect for modifying to play 21st century MP3's... something a more modern CD player won't do!

Step 2: Preparing the cassette adaptor

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Yes, I could have just plugged the adaptor in as is, and would have had a perfectly functional rig for my iPod. BUt I decided I wanted to give the cable a bit of retro flare, so I decided to use the same technique I have used in the past for my Steampunk USB cables.

The tricky part about this modification is that this involved taking the cassette adaptor apart, and removing the cable from the circuit board, and then reassembling the whole thing.

One thing I learned is that these adaptors are very easy to take apart, but not so easy to put back together!

First you need to remove the six small screws that hold the adaptor together, then you need to flip the device over before opening, as there are a bunch of loose gears inside the adaptor that will spill all over the place. (You might want to take a photograph of the opened device, to see where everything needs to go back together).

Note: The way this adaptor works is is it tricks your cassette player into thinking it's plating a cassette. For this reason, it's important that all the gears inside work just a regular cassette would. So it's important that there not be a gear out of place, or too much tension, or the adaptor won't work.

Step 3: Detach wire and trim

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Once you've got your adaptor open, locate the small circuit board, and gently pry it loose with a tweezer. With your soldering iron, (or desolderer), heat the contacts that hold the wire in place, and remove it.

Since the cable only needs to reach to the iPod resting on top of the radio, I decided to cut the cable in half, to make it shorter.

Step 4: Paint plug

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Once you've got the wire detached, use a bit of metallic paint (I chose gold) to paint the plug, and let dry.

Step 5: Lace wire

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This is the same technique (and the same kind of lace) I have used in the past for my Steampunk USB Cable, and my Steampunk Incandescent USB Lamp.

In short, clip the ends off a shoelace, and burn them slightly to prevent fraying. Then thread the wire through the lace, and pull tightly to the base of the plug.

(See the above links for a more detailed description of this process).

Step 6: Add heat shrink tubing

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With the wire threaded through the lace, trim the lace to the length of the wire, and thread two pieces of heat shrink tubing, one for each end. Carefully heat the tubing, and be careful not to burn the lace.

Note: A Zippo or similar style lighter works great for this process, as it will stay lit and stand on your workspace, leaving your hands free to handle the cable.

Step 7: Reattach stereo cable

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Now that you have an appropriately decorated cable, here comes the tricky part: reattaching it! This is one of the most difficult parts of this project, and will require some basic soldering skills. If you need help with this step, there are plenty of great soldering how-to's on this site.

When the wire is resoldered, tuck it neatly back into the case (thrid picture), being careful not to let the wire brush up against any of the moving gears.

Step 8: Reassemble adaptor

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Next to resoldering the stereo cable, this is the most difficult step. As you know by now, these adaptors have a number of moving, unattached parts, and everything needs to be just properly in place before you close up the cassette case, or the adaptor won't work. I had to reassemble, and reopen the case a number of times before I got all the gears just right. Good luck!;-)

Step 9: Steampunk Gallery

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Here is a picture of my finished Decopunk iPod rig, with some of my steampunk creations.

On the left; my Steampunk Incandescent USB lamp; in the center, my Steampunk iPod Classic case and Steampunk iPod Classic stand, and on the right, my Steampunk 3rd Hand and my Steampunk USB mini-lantern.

If you like this Instructable, please consider voting for it in the Wood Challenge.

very well done, I like the little details.

Honda Enoch2 years ago
I have a "vintage" radio with a cassette port. I have been trying to think of away to install a plug for my Android phone. I never even thought about this.

Great idea.
Winged Fist (author)  Honda Enoch2 years ago
Honda Enoch - What's great about these cassette players from the 70s, 80s & 90s is that they can do something more modern CD players can't - play MP3s through a cassette adapter;-)
Yep and still play cassettes too :)
And he has been off and running i see, I take a little time off to unplug and I have to catch up now... :) all 3 look fantastic Winged Fist great job!
Let's see some more!
Ya I have that same problem, Making me not want to do instructables anymore, and just post the finished product. takes to much time to make theses and get no exposure like you said.
Winged Fist (author)  Grasshopper12213 years ago
Thanks Grasshopper! Unfortunately none of these projects tickled the fancy of the editors, so they've haven't really gotten much exposure...;-(
zomfibame3 years ago
I like the idea of the shoelace sleeve over the wire to help it look a little more old-school.
Winged Fist (author)  zomfibame3 years ago
Zomfibame - The shoelace certainly helps to give the wires an old school effect, and works well for concealing the plastic!
knife1413 years ago
Very nice! I really like the looks of this.
Winged Fist (author)  knife1413 years ago
Thanks!
longwinters3 years ago
You have been a busy boy, nice job on the latest 3 projects, you know what would have really spiced them up? Oh I don't know maybe some neon bulbs, ah I'm just funnin ya, I'm working part time in a recycle store, you would not believe the cool stuff I've got access to everyday, if you PM me I'll shoot ya some pics of more fee stuff.

Thanks for posting the new projects it gets a little quiet around here in the summer.
Winged Fist (author)  longwinters3 years ago
Longwinters- As you can see from my last 3 projects, I've been on an audio kick of late. But when I was designing my Steampunk iPod Classic case, I thought to myself: "What would make this really comfortable in my back pocket? I know! Neon bulbs!" Then I reconsidered;-)

Your new job sounds like you've died and gone to "DIY Makers" heaven;-) Have fun, and looking forward to see what the quit summer brings from up north!
Junophor3 years ago
Dear Sir Winged Fist

**WOW**

Take a bow to all three new projects
They fit very well together;-)))

Great job
Yours Aeon Junophor
Winged Fist (author)  Junophor3 years ago
Thanks very much Mister Junophor! I spent quite a while planning these three projects, and fortunately got them in just before the Woodworking Challenge deadline... Glad you like them... Sounds great too;-)