Introduction: 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
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
What you'll need:
USB phone charger
Soldering iron and solder
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)
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
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
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!
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.