Instructables

Turn a vintage radio into an iPod dock

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I found this 1940's Westinghouse radio at a flea market for $15 and thought it would make an awesome iPod dock! I love the vintage look, but don't have much use for an AM only radio, not to mention it didn't work to begin with! Aside from looking a little worn out and having badly faded and filthy paint, cosmetically it was really in pretty good shape, so I set about to transform this old beauty into something I could use.

I had an old Altec Lansing IM310 iPod docking station that I hadn't used in a while and decided it would make a good donor for all of the stereo parts. It was suited well for the project because all of the circuitry and speakers were sized perfectly to be transplanted into the old Westinghouse radio case.

I was very impressed with how well this project turned out. When it was all finished, it actually looked like the Westinghouse radio was designed with an integrated iPod dock!

Tools you'll need:

-Soldering iron and solder
-Dremel (This is an absolute must!)
-Drill and bits
-400 grit sandpaper (Wet/dry)
-Hot glue gun
-Jigsaw (only necessary if you're replacing your radio's backing)

Supplies:

-Antique radio
-Plastic iPod dock connector (You can buy a pack of three on Ebay for $5)
-A donor iPod dock/stereo or build your own from a kit amp
-LED
-Cotter pin
-Paper clip
-Some wire
-Primer
-Paint (Whatever colour matches the stock colour of your radio best)
-A toggle switch
-Some MDF board (only necessary if you need to replace your backing)
-Some small miscellaneous hardware parts depending on your exact project (may vary)
 
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Slashmaster6 months ago

Awesome build. I love seeing old radios get new life. My only complaint here is you sort of shuffled over all the wiring that went into this, because I'm sure there was quite a bit of it. All things considered this is one of the best dock builds I've seen.

ctx1985 (author)  Slashmaster6 months ago

Thanks so much! Yeah I guess I did sort of skip over some of the wiring, but for the most part it's just the insides out of an old Altec Lansing iPod dock. I did have to cut and extend some of the wiring, and I tested some voltages and just tapped into a 4.5v area on the main board for the LED that lights the front dial. If you wanted to build your own and have any questions though, I would be happy to help! Thanks again for commenting!

My build is coming soon enough, not sure if I'll document it or not, but I will atleast post a picture or two whenever I get around to it. I'm still deciding on old radio versus old rotary phone (which I regret not buying last time I saw one). Either way, the build shouldn't be overly complicated if I rip apart an old docking station first. I suppose the thrift and antique stores around here will decide how this ends up. Again, thanks for sharing the build.

ctx1985 (author)  Slashmaster6 months ago

I would love to see some pics when you finish! I've seen a couple of old rotary phone dock builds that turned out beautifully. Surprisingly, you can actually find some pretty good old radios and rotary phones on ebay and craiglist/kijiji for relatively cheap if you don't care if they work or not. It's getting harder and harder to find the old rotary phones at thrift stores these days. Good luck on your project!

chachmo10 months ago
I love this project and I've already purchased a flea market find for my own version. My question is.... I'm not very good at electronics, do you have a suggestion on how to tackle the volume control issue for a neophyte?
ctx1985 (author)  chachmo10 months ago
Thanks! As far as the volume control goes...My best suggestion would be to find an iPod dock that uses a knob for the volume control rather than a slider like mine did (if you google "icube 2", that would be an ideal dock and you could probably pick a used one up for $5 - $10 at a thrift store or through the classified ads). Then if you have a soldering iron, just de-solder the volume potentiometer from the iPod dock and then solder wires from the three terminals on the potentiometer back to where in was originally soldered in on the circuit board and run it to the spot where the original volume knob was on your vintage radio. The easy part about this is that most potentiometers have a standard diameter shaft for the knob to attach to, so even the knobs from an antique radio are likely to be the same diameter as the potentiometer shaft and you can just push the old knob on over the new potentiometer. Feel free to send me private messages if you need any help or some further explanation. I know it sounds a bit complicated, but it's really not that bad. If there is anything I can do to help, don't hesitate to ask! Everyone has to start somewhere! Good luck with your project!
we've been doing this for some time - www.redock.co.nr
ctx1985 (author)  keirjohnharry1 year ago
Cool! I checked out your website. I like the old rotary phone ones! Nice work!
groovymama1 year ago
Congratulations! This is awesome!
ctx1985 (author)  groovymama1 year ago
Thank you so much!
kkrumwiede1 year ago
Nice work.! You just reminded me that I have a similar vintage radio in a box in my garage... Time to go get it... But I love the color of it as-is and don't want to repaint. Any pointers for avoiding the "dremeled" look around the dock?
ctx1985 (author)  kkrumwiede1 year ago
Thanks! It may be a little tricky to avoid the "dremeled" look. If you checked out the pics, you probably noticed the paint flaked off a bit around where I dremeled. But the paint actually didn't chip off as a result of the dremeling, it actually came off when I peeled the tape off that I had used for a template. If I were you, and you want to avoid repainting, very carefully trace an outline of your dock connector onto the radio where you want it and then cut out a very rough outline, leaving some extra material around the edges. Then instead of doing the finishing touches with the dremel like I did, use some course sandpaper (maybe like 180 or 200 grit) to finish shaping it for your dock connector. I guess you'll just have to make sure you shape it just right for the dock connector to just snugly fit in the cutout. Just a thought, but if you don't want to paint the radio, maybe just find a can of spray paint that matches it very closely and paint the dock connector, and then you'll have some touch up paint just in case it chips a bit around the edges. What I do for touching up with spray paint is just spray a bit in the cap and then use a fine brush or toothpick for the touch up. Hope this helps! Let me know how it turns out!
ctx1985 (author) 1 year ago
Just an open question: if I were to start making more of these and selling them what does everyone think that a fair price to ask would be? Assuming that I used decent stereo components. Any input would be greatly appreciated!
fredlb1 year ago
great job !
ctx1985 (author)  fredlb1 year ago
Thank you! It was a really fun little project!
kcli1 year ago
Very interesting and thorough! I bought a rotary phone at a thrift store last week with the thought of incorporating a docking station into it but had no idea as to how to go about the job. Your instructable will definitely be used/referenced when I attempt my hack. Great job!
ctx1985 (author)  kcli1 year ago
Thanks so much! Turning a rotary phone onto a dock sounds like a great idea! I would love to see some pics!
It's cool, but you should've added a speaker to it. Then, it'd be REALLY cool.
ctx1985 (author)  Baltazar Sanchez III1 year ago
Haha I actually added two speakers to it! I replaced the original single speaker with dual stereo speakers. You can see the back of them in one of the steps.
Great job! It looks beautiful!
ctx1985 (author)  SlickSqueegie1 year ago
Thanks so much!
Cool idea, great job blending the dock recess into the housing.
ctx1985 (author)  technovative1 year ago
Thanks! All the bodywork I did in high school finally paid off haha.