Bring a Vintage GI Joe Walkie-Talkie Back to Life With Bluetooth!




Introduction: Bring a Vintage GI Joe Walkie-Talkie Back to Life With Bluetooth!

I had only one circa 1970, GI-Joe green Walkie-Talkie that, to the untrained eye, only sits there and occasionally generates static.
But to an observer of the correct age and attitude, this toy can evoke images of a childhood past, friends and fun times.
So since it's got no partner to talk to, won't generate any money on eBay and it's too cool to just throw out, how can we bring it back to life!??

Bluetooth is the answer my friend! ...I have plenty of old Bluetooth earpieces stuffed in the junk drawer, missing ear-buds, broken ear-loops and worn out batteries...let's hack one into the Walkie-Talkie and turn it into a cell phone speaker phone!

It's a practical project even!  I don't have Bluetooth in my old truck...and now with the finished Walkie-Talkie, I can take hands free calls!

What's needed for this Instructable:
  - Hackable Walkie-Talkie (or maybe an answering machine or old telephone??)
  - Bluetooth earpiece (available as low as $10 on Amazon and eBay)
  - Multi-meter (ideally with "Square Wave Generator" setting)
  - Drill
  - Soldering Iron and Solder
  - Glue to connect the headset to the Walkie (I used a 3M product called "Scotch Maximum Strength Adhesive")
  - Clamps
  - Electrical tape

  (This Instructable submitted by the Rabbit-Hole Maker Space as part of the Instructables Sponsorship Program.)

Step 1: Find a Candidate Bluetooth Headset (or Two, or Three)

This thing is vintage 1970 and cool. It was made (in Japan) by a Minnesota company (Gambles), even has a schematic inside the back cover. Needless to say, I didn't really want to gut the thing. My first thought was to pop open a Bluetooth headset, only keep the important bits and jam them INSIDE the Walkie.

Two Problems: Unfortunately the headsets were more difficult to disassemble than I had planned, and I realized that I'd want access to the headset to charge it and press the buttons. 

So new plan: simply break off the ear piece from the Bluetooth headset, exposing the speaker wires, run the speaker wires through the side of the Walkie and solder them onto the speaker, thus leaving the Bluetooth in a convenient location

Step 2: Now, Where to Tap Into the Walkie-Talkie?

A brilliant idea was offered up for this problem by my friend Whisker. By using a multi-meter in the square wave generator setting (not all multi-meters have this feature, but you can find it on even inexpensive models) we can test the connectivity of the wires and when correct we hear a tone coming from the Walkie-Talkie speaker.
So these two spots on the speaker circuit are where we want to solder in the headset speaker wires.
Here's a video where Whisker demonstrates this test

Step 3: Reassemble and You're Ready for Duty!

I drilled a hole (carefully) in the side of the Walkie just the right size for the remnants of the headset speaker to fit through, and wired up the speaker, soldering the connections.
I used a 3M product called Scotch Maximum Strength Adhesive to glue the headset to the Walkie...worked quickly and held tight!

I found I needed a small bit of packing foam to keep the battery from bouncing around ...the original foam had worn out long ago.

Once reassembled we were ready to test it out....check out this YouTube video where my freshly Bluetooth enabled Walkie-Talkie comes in handy during a Zombie attack (filmed at the Rabbit-Hole, our local Maker/Hacker space)

Thanks to some imagination and help from the Rabbit-Hole gang, my vintage Walkie-Talkie is a fun toy once again. Easily pairs with my cellphone so I can take calls in Gi-Joe style! I'd like it to be a touch louder in my noisy old truck, so future plans for this project may include adding a LM386 amp circuit.

Thanks for checking out this Instructable, hope it's helpful and you find it fun.
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    9 years ago on Introduction

    I had 2 at one time, left them in my parents attic years ago and mom sold them....


    Reply 9 years ago on Introduction

    bummer! and the baseball card collection worth thousands too, right ;-)


    Reply 9 years ago on Introduction

    lol surprisingly true, my uncle had a card collection, it ended up in my grandmothers attic, she threw it out...
    Here is the kicker, Mickey Mantle was his favorite player, he used to show his sister (my mom) all his Mickey Mantle cards all the time when they were little.
    Oh well, hopefully some trash collector got insanely rich.