Vintage Radio Turned Into a Phone Speaker

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Introduction: Vintage Radio Turned Into a Phone Speaker

About: I'm based in London - in my day job I make digital things and at night I tinker with art, maps and electronics.

The idea behind this was to take a beautiful old (broken) radio and give it a new lease of life by combining it with modern components to make it usable again as a speaker for a phone.

After getting hold of an old Roberts radio I found a less-old pair of computer speakers to use the components from. I then took everything apart down to the component level.

Supplies

  • Vintage Robert's radio
  • Pair of computer speakers
  • Some extra electronics components

Step 1: The Old Radio

The radio was a Roberts Rambler. I'm not entirely sure when it was made but I'd guess the 70s or 80s sometime. The box is made of wood and some of the components were made in England so that shows its age!

I love the old electronics inside but sadly they weren't part of the plan. I removed all the components and was left with the shell of the radio.

Step 2: The New Parts

The parts I used for the actual functionality were from a pair of computer speakers. There's really not much to them: two speakers and one PCB with on/off/volume pot, and a 3.5 headphone input.

The enclosures were a horrible cheap plastic, but at least after I totally stripped them down I hoped they could be recycled.

Step 3: ​Putting It All Together and Testing

Once I'd freed all the components I soldered together the bits from the computer speakers to make sure they worked.

Then I fitted them all inside the old radio box. There was only one PCB in the new speakers so I glued some wooden brackets inside the old radio case and then screwed/glued that in place. I'm not proud of the amount of hot glue I used, but sometimes it's exactly what you need!

The old radio only had one speaker but there were two in the newer system. So I fitted one of the new ones into that original position and then for the other I cut a round hole in the side of the old box. For the first time in its life the radio was in stereo!

I fitted the 3.5 mm audio input socket into the hole that was where the tuning knob for the radio went, and I de-soldered the volume pot from the new board, putting flying leads on that to fit it into the original position of the radio volume.

The last thing was the power input, and because I had the DC power supply from the computer speakers I just found the required female power socket with a bulkhead fitting and stuck it through a hole in the back of the box.

Step 4: Finished and Working

Once I'd replaced all the original body of the old radio that was it!

I guess a Bluetooth version could be the future, but this was an easy way to up-cycle a beautiful old radio to play music though and I'm really happy with the results.

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    17 Comments

    0
    RobertC2
    RobertC2

    11 months ago

    There are no pictures of the side where the second speaker was installed. In order to maintain the antique radio look, it wouldn't do to just leave the speaker visible... What was used to cover it up? Perhaps a piece from the grill of the computer speaker?
    When you mention that the unit is now "stereo", I might point out that half of your audio image is being directed away from the listener -- which is not how stereo works. In fact, I would think that it is less desirable than if you'd simply converted the output to mono, and kept the enclosure intact. But, of course, hindsight is 20/20... Cheers from Canada! ;-)

    0
    robhallifax
    robhallifax

    Reply 11 months ago

    Fair point about the stereo. Although if you place it at the right angle against a wall you get a proprietary 4D stereoscape as it bounces around the room... :-)


    1
    covkid50
    covkid50

    11 months ago on Step 2

    It turned out nice, but as a vintage radio enthusiast and owner of two of these Roberts radios, I wish you hadn’t done it.

    1
    robhallifax
    robhallifax

    Reply 11 months ago

    I understand where you're coming from. I did have to think hard about what I did with the radio. In the end I thought that on balance it was better to turn it into something useful than leave it to gather dust, or worse, end up in landfill.

    1
    covkid50
    covkid50

    Reply 11 months ago

    I can see your point. Better to use it for something than throw it away. I guess my first thought would have been to repair it and and leave it original, but I do realise that sometimes it isn’t possible. Again, you did a good job with it, and I wasn’t trying to be critical of your work.

    0
    robhallifax
    robhallifax

    Reply 11 months ago

    The other factor is that I'm not sure my capabilities would stretch to a proper repair job!

    0
    covkid50
    covkid50

    Reply 11 months ago

    Fair enough!

    0
    Jantofer2000
    Jantofer2000

    Question 11 months ago on Introduction

    Amazing. I am thinking of something similar but with a working vacuum tube radio and using a bluetooth

    0
    robhallifax
    robhallifax

    Answer 11 months ago

    That sounds like an awesome idea - good luck! Sadly I feel that vacuum tubes may be a bit beyond my skill level.

    0
    DO8
    DO8

    11 months ago

    This is AWESOME. Love the look of the old style radio! Great job!

    0
    Pivotjo
    Pivotjo

    11 months ago

    The radio has all components the computer speaker has: amplifier, volume control and speakers.
    Instead of using complete new internals it is possible to connect the external input to the right spot (most likely just before the volume control or the input of the amplifier circuit.
    In this way you’ll have a dual-input radio.

    0
    robhallifax
    robhallifax

    Reply 11 months ago

    There was something broken with the radio unfortunately. The speaker seemed to work when I tested it separately, but there was just nothing getting to it. That was about the limit of my electronics skills so I thought it would be easiest to just swap the whole lot out.

    1
    mlwats
    mlwats

    11 months ago

    Fix the radio and add bluetooth to it, best of both worlds and updated. Rather than ruin a nice radio.

    0
    robhallifax
    robhallifax

    Reply 11 months ago

    I thought about that option, but I wouldn't have used an analogue radio like that, so decided to re-purpose it into something more versatile. I like the fact that it's alive again, even if it has evolved into something different.

    0
    robhallifax
    robhallifax

    Reply 11 months ago

    Thanks!