Instructables

Turn a 1950s wireless into a portable ipod speaker

Featured
This instructable shows the steps I took to turn a circa 1950 radio into a portable speaker system, suitable for any MP3 player.

We picked up this radio from the local antique shop for just £3. The internals don't work anymore, though they sure do look cool.

The total cost of everything was around £60 - £70. Everything was bought new, and this speaker system only uses one speaker, so we're left with a spare.

6.5" speaker. This is the same diameter as the original, so it could use the existing clasps.

180w Amplifer. This is one of those dirt-cheap ebay ones. I'm sure it won't actually pump out 180 watts (per channel), but for this kind of basic system, it's fine.

12V SLA battery. a 1.3Ah battery from maplin. It's small and cheap. 1.3Ah may not be enough though, we'll see.

Cigarette lighter. A standard 12v cigarette light from a car. This provides somewhere to plug the battery in to a charger.

Fancy Missile-style switch. This switch will be the main power isolator for the battery.

Cables: Short length of speaker cable, mono 3.5mm couple and 2 3.5mm jack-jack cables.

These are the main things. Not included about is bolts, washers, screws, or the scrap bits of wood.

1950s wireless into Portable Stereo from sladekious on Vimeo.


 
Remove these adsRemove these ads by Signing Up
Pentagrid3 years ago
Arrrrgh!!!! It's not hard to restore these beasties... & you don't even have to bother with the radio tuner bit. The last section of the radio is an ordinary amplifier which can accept an ipod & reproducing its sound thru its own speaker. If you're not comfortable working on a valve chassis (& who would blame you!) ask around. There's lots of vintage radio-type peoples like me who would find this a simple task. Nice instructable too:)
John.
rav3nus Pentagrid3 months ago

Hi Pentagrid. I would like to learn how to restore valve radios and also add ipod connections or bluetooth connections so music and stories could be listened to. I live in NZ. Could you make an instructable for this? I will check out what NZVRS is. Thank you. A

Pentagrid rav3nus3 months ago
I would LOVE to but I have no experience in producing Instructables or videos for what can be quite a complex operation. I think joining the NZVRS is an excellent way to get started & then read read read. I am mostly self-taught from "Radio & Hobbies in Australia" magazine - there id a DVD with editions from 1939 - 1965 all in PDF form. These form an excellent teaching resource. Also check out websites - Phil's Old Radio's in the USA have some very well written articles on the different aspects of restoration & there are videos on You Tube - mostly american which may be worth a look. I make no apology for being cautious in all this - valve radios have high voltage in them & can kill.
rav3nus Pentagrid3 months ago

Thanks man. I am thinking just a little am transmitter in the radio after you've got it going and plug the ipod into the transmitter would prob be the best way to go. Thanks pentagrid.

Pentagrid , do you have any idea how to track down someone in the States to fix an old radio ? I know the U. S. isn't your turf but maybe you know where I might start looking . I just assumed it would be impossible to fix my great grandfathers radio . Thanks .
Yes, I am quite a long way away from the good ol' USA. I would search the net in the first instance, maybe look for a club? Here in New Zealand we have a society (NZVRS) which caters for chaps like me. Is there an equivalent in your area? Note they probably won't fix your radio but may be able to suggest someone who can.
If yours is a simple model, have a look @ Phil's Old Radios (antiqueradio.org). He does NOT fix radios but explains how to go about it in some very well-written articles. I've learnt a lot from this excellent site.
I might also suggest checking out your local ham radio club, wherever you might be. There are a lot of hams that still use old tube rigs, and can work on them too. They would also have a good idea where to send you if they wouldn't want to take on the repair job themselves.

Warren
Thanks for the information .
nice touch on the 50s radio. might i add that a base could've been addes to place you ipod either on top or behind the radio. that would be real neat in aesthetics.

nonetheless, an outstanding effort!!! congratulations!!!
blackcorvo3 years ago
man... GIMME THOSE TUBES! XD
and i'd accept the speakrt too, if you don't have any plans on using it :B

hehe, its a really nice project!
elicenter3 years ago
3 things I love about this:

1) taking something old and broken-down and making it useful again, whilst keeping intact the age-old aesthetics and charm
2) doing so on the cheap
3) posting a video in addition to the rest of the instructable, as opposed to posting only a video, and calling it an instructable.

Bravo!
sladek (author)  elicenter3 years ago
Thank you for the feedback :)
Ernest123 years ago
Why didn't you use the tube audio amp and retain the sound quality of the old tube radio. There is a quality of sound in tube amps that guitar players pay big money for and you passed it up. I know you wanted it portable with the battery, which I understand. Maby the next time you could capture the sound quality, or save that for the floor model Zenith with the turntable built in.
Good instructable.
taoybb-TH3 years ago
I Think you should send old speaker to me hehe! I Collecting it.
gridleak3 years ago
Hi, while using radios that are beyond repair would be a good use for this kind of project, there are a few tube radio folks that would pay a good dollar for a Phillips brand set like you just took apart. By the looks of the innards, a good recap of the set could have been all that was needed to have yourself some decent pocket money. In fact, there are some that consider this type of project blasphemy. 8c)

I would suggest a perusal of some of the vintage radio sites and/or E-Bay and search for the brand and model of the radio before taking them apart. While most are just $5 to $10 sets, you could be surprised someday.
robot7974 years ago
 do you still have the insides of the radio

cus i have a intrest in it
Culturespy4 years ago
 Do you have any photos or video of it in use? 
Culturespy4 years ago
 Outstanding!