Introduction: Vintage Radio Bluetooth Mod With Original Speaker

Picture of Vintage Radio Bluetooth Mod With Original Speaker

This is my take on a project that many others have done as well. Odds are you can't find the exact radio and parts that I used, so here are links to some other instructables for inspiration. There are a ton of bluetooth speaker instructables out there. These are just a few that have a vintage flavor.
Bluetooth Vintage Speaker Upgrade

Vintage Radio to Bluetooth Speaker Simple Electronics Project

Converting Old Radio Into a Bluetooth Speaker

Vintage Bluetooth Speaker Clock Radio Build

A 1921 Bluetooth Speaker

My Homemade Bluetooth Speaker

Retro-Mod - Bluetooth Speaker Madness

70 Years Old German BLUETOOTH Speaker

Re-purposing an Antique Portable Radio Into a Hip Bluetooth Speaker

Vintage Radio Into a Speaker for an MP3 Player...

Antique Radio As Bluetooth Speaker

Bluetooth 1947 Crosley Radio

Retro Bluetooth Boombox

Vintage Wi-Fi Internet Radio

Youtube Video of Adding Bluetooth to an Old Radio Case

My build is pretty fast and simple. I keep most of the old radio intact, but I'm really just using the speaker inside the cool radio case. The radio didn't work and was just sitting there for display for many months, so I'm glad I finally got around to making it useful as well as gorgeous.

Step 1: Find a Radio and Bluetooth Speaker

Picture of Find a Radio and Bluetooth Speaker

What you'll need:

Old radio

Bluetooth speaker

USB phone charger

Soldering iron and solder

Some buttons/switches

Wire

Multimeter

This is an old bakelite General Electric radio from the 1940s. I picked it up at an estate sale for 10 bucks. The bluetooth speaker is actually designed for making phone calls in the car. It is made by Jabra. I got it for super cheap at a garage sale too. If you don't have the luck of finding something like this you can also pick up another cheap bluetooth speaker or audio module on ebay. I got lucky as the both the speaker in the radio and the one in the bluetooth device had the same resistance (4 Ohms). You probably want to check this as well (with the multimeter) if you plan on using the original radio speaker.

Step 2: Admire Its Guts and Try to Fix It (and Fail)

Picture of Admire Its Guts and Try to Fix It (and Fail)

What I really wanted was to have a working radio that could also play music through bluetooth. So I first took it apart to see if I could find anything wrong. Just look at its beautiful guts! I was admiring the beautiful, organized, and simple vacuum tube arrangement, then I took the chassis out and saw a tangled mass of wire and other stuff underneath. The radio was in great shape and had been sitting on a basement shelf for years and years, so I figured its only problem was that the capacitors had dried out. All those blue things are high-voltage capacitors I put in there to try to get it to work. No luck. At any rate, this build keeps the guts intact so I can try again later if I ever want to.

Step 3: Wiring and Power

Picture of Wiring and Power

This is a super simple wiring job. We'll need some power first of all. My bluetooth speaker took a standard USB micro plug, so I found where the wall power cord connects to the radio and hooked up a usb cellphone charger directly to the 120V AC. (If you do this make sure that you insulate things well so that the AC doesn't short anywhere.) Then I just used a usb micro cord to plug the bluetooth unit right into the phone charger. I wrapped everything in some super cheap insulation (paper towel), and stuck it in the radio. Don't forget to wire up the speaker as well! You may need to pay attention to the speaker's polarity. This radio's old speaker seemed to work great either way.

Now that we have power, we need control. In my setup, I did this by soldering thin wires directly to the contacts of the buttons and switch on the bluetooth. I'll attach them to new buttons in the next step.

Step 4: Adding Some Buttons

Picture of Adding Some Buttons

Now I have wires attached to all the buttons and switches on the bluetooth. To control it from outside the radio, I decided to just go with some simple buttons on the back. It has a switch for power, and buttons for volume and to answer a phone call. It would have been fancier, but much harder to adapt the knobs on the front of the radio.

The back of the radio already had some holes in it, so I just used a needle file to enlarge them enough to fit my buttons and switch. I didn't do a great job of making sure everything was square, but the buttons are hidden from view anyway.

Step 5: Done!

Picture of Done!

Finally, the old vintage radio not only looks great, but is actually useful! It can be very loud, and the audio quality is pretty good. I've even taken phone calls on it, but the microphone isn't all that great from inside the radio, so I have to stay pretty close to it in order to be heard. Anyway, a nice functional piece of decor for the house.

Comments

HowardLJTaylor made it! (author)2017-09-25

Yup I made it too!!

https://youtu.be/F14SVbI6ndQ

Cool! The lights are a great touch. I hope you don't mind I added a link to your video to my list of links in step 1.

Welcome of course...

TulsaTops (author)2017-09-25

The radio you used is a classic and hopefully you did not alter the radio for the bluetooth module. It is an "Armstrong FM" radio. FM was invented by Edwin Armstrong in 1933. He patented and sold FM receivers with his name on them, however other corporate powers lobbied and was able to get the FCC to change the FM band and use their own patent for FM broadcast, making his radios obsolete. You will notice the FM band on your radio is not the current standard of 88-108 MHz. Great tutorial though and I have many old radios and might try converting one to Bluetooth. I'm thinking several old manufacturers offered a Phono inut and maybe this could be utilized without modifying the radio. Keep up the great work!!

Jordan Bell (author)TulsaTops2017-09-25

I tried to leave the internals completely intact aside from replacing the capacitors and unhooking the speaker. This way if I ever have time to learn how to get it working again I still have the option. It would be great to have both the bluetooth and radio functionality as some others have done here on instructables.

спипец (author)2017-09-24

I am against such alterations of vintage receivers. I hoped that I described the manufacture of the receiver in a new box.

Jordan Bell (author)спипец2017-09-25

I agree that it's totally better to get the original radio working if you have the time and skill. (I didn't.) If you're looking for building a vintage-looking new case for an old radio, check out this guy's work. https://www.instructables.com/id/Vintage-Bluetooth...

I was particularly impressed with how he bent the acrylic.

bicivelo (author)2017-09-24

It's not a shame. These sell for about 45 bucks on ebay but in reality they are worth what the last person pays for it. In this case, $10. I think these mods are great a bring new life to old technology. Nice work.

shozbot (author)2017-09-24

What a shame! I collect and repair old radios. Do you know what this radio is worth?

Paxman5 (author)2017-09-24

Wow, this is very clever! I've been looking at car stereos with retro look for my 60th boat. I don't want a new stereo with blinking lights and a lot of bling...I want a look that goes with the rest of the boat but would love to be able to use my phone as a source. Problem is that new retro stereos are expensive! I guess this hack would be possible to use on a car stereo as well as an old transistor radio.

VcetakUA (author)2017-09-10

This work just touches - elegant. And as a style you will not refuse.Very good.

Jordan Bell (author)VcetakUA2017-09-12

Thanks!

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