DIY Radio: Hacking a Radio for Use in Developing Countries

Introduction: DIY Radio: Hacking a Radio for Use in Developing Countries

The DIY Radio is designed to be produced and sold as a flat-pack unit, consisting of three parts. An electronics module, the main body, and a cover. All of these components are designed to fit neatly together, using Velcro to attach the cover, which holds the structure together. The DIY Radio is an extremely cheap unit for use in developing countries. Because it is made of card, the tooling costs involved in the manufacturing are very low. Secondly, it comes as a flat pack unit, meaning storage and transportation cost per unit as extremely low compared to regular radio’s. The radio features two simple dials, to avoid clutter. The user could even mark their favourite stations around the dial. Over all, this contributes to a stylish, yet extremely cheap radio that is battery powered a perfect for users in developing countries who want to be entertained.

You will also see my exploded diagram which shows all the individual components of this radio. 

Materials List:

-1 sheet of high quality A3 card (red)
-1 sheet of high quality A3 card (grey)
-2 1 cm sticks of 12mm dowel
-2 12 mm diameter dials
-1 Sony ICF-S22 radio
-2 12mm strips of Velcro
-1 6mm x 6mm square of Velcro
-1 AA battery case

Tools Required:

-Scissors/ Craft knife. Or a laser cutter if you have access to one
-Micro Screw Driver

Step 1: De Constructing the Sony ICF-S22 Radio

This step simply requires you to carefully unscrew all the screws in the outer shell and within the battery casing of the radio. Take care when pulling the two halves of the radio apart so you don't pull any wires out, which are hooked onto the casing at certain points. They could quite easily be pulled from the chip board. Once the radio is in two halves, the chip board and speaker can easily be popped out from its mounting points. The battery connections from either end of the batteries also need to be clipped out. The casing is not needed for this radio, just the speaker and the chip board

Step 2: Hacking the Radio Chip

Hacking the radio chip requires extending the wiring of the components. Firstly, de-solder the 6 connection points for the tuner. Solder some 120mm wire in place. I found that the extra wiring acts as an ariel, and interferes with the signal, wrapping these wires in tin foil seems to correct this problem. Then, de-solder the 3 volume connectors and solder in 3 new pieces of 120mm wire. Finally, de-solder the battery connectors, and add in a new AA battery case.

Step 3: The Template

This is the template for the radio. It is best to cut it out on a laser cutter to achieve the fine detail. If not, it could be done with a craft knife, The three central central lines are score lines, as are the base lines of either triangle, the angled tabs and the tabs on the chip board mounting. Everything else is a through cut. 

Step 4: Folding the Template

This step requires simply folding the template together. The grey side faces downwards, the side panels fold up, the bracket section folds back on itself so it rests on top of the base grey side up. The chip board bracket is then angled so as to rest flush with the side panel.

Step 5: Inserting the Electronics

Place the electronics inside the radio. The speaker, AM/FM switch, the volume and the tuning dials all slot into the holes. The chip board fits into the bracket and is held down by the cover. Glue a piece of dowel to the volume and tuning units, and place the dials on the other end, this will hold the dials in place. Finally, line the inside of the cover, and the outside of the main body with opposing velcro strips to hold it all together. 

Step 6: The Final Step

Simply fold the cover over, and your low cost cardboard radio is done! I would really appreciate any feedback.

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    what do u mean by "120mm" cause i used that length and the fm still doesn't work


    10 years ago on Introduction

    Well, it looks like a perfectly good and strong plastic case has been replaced by a thin cardboard case. I like the flatpack idea but plastic radios already come pre-packaged in boxes. So the packing of little boxes inside a larger box is not really any issue.

    I guess very hot and dry climates would be good for such a radio if the plastic were to be endangered by the environment. I'd avoid sending a cardboard radio case to any place with humidity and rain though.

    Something to consider for a future design which would be cheaper in a developing country would be to design a fully screen printed radio circuit which has no 3-D components. I don't know if we can screen print all different kinds of electronic components yet, but that would allow for a cardboard radio. (It's rumored that in Japan some cellphones were once printed onto the cardboard of cereal boxes. It was a sales gimmick to get people to sign up for cellphone service on a contract.) Maybe someone can veryify or debunk this....


    Reply 10 years ago on Introduction

    I'm pretty sure that if such a thing were done for promotional use, they would use Surface Mount Devices (SMDs). The circuitboard can be made thin, the components are only 1/32" high (maybe 5/64" for electrolytic capacitors. With digital tuning, you don't have the coil arrays or variable tuning capacitors. You couldn't get the thing to work just printed on cardboard, but you could connect a flexible PC board (high-temperature ribbon cable looking thing) to the cardboard with glue. Definately doable, but unwieldly to use comfortably.


    10 years ago on Introduction

    I know comments are expected to be positive, constructive, but there are those times, when one runs across an instructable that no matter how well intend goes in the wrong direction. First determine the broadcasts bands in the country of interest, and send the the purchased radio as is. In light as another pointed out batteries are a liability. The freeplayenergy radios would be the ones to donate. Particularly the 4 band model, if it's sill available.


    Great to developing countries... so they should buy a new one every few months... why always people relate "useless trash" with "hey... send it to developing countries... we're such good people!!!"


    11 years ago on Introduction

    neat design but if this is gonna go to a third world country regular batteries are not the way to go


    very nice simple design. What are your estimated costs for manufacturing this.?
    great project.!