Altitune: Hacking a Radio for Climbing and Adventure Activities




Introduction: Altitune: Hacking a Radio for Climbing and Adventure Activities

The Following Intractable will guide you through the steps to making a robust compact radio. The radio was made for a second year product design project at the University of Dundee.

Step 1: The Sony Radio

The Radio I hacked was the "Sony ICFS22" which is a "Personal Radio" it's a pretty cheap radio (about 10 pounds) you can buy it on Amazon or in some shops like Agros. The radio is a bit bulky and isn't really very exciting but that's what this hack aims change. I will show you how to make a smaller more portable radio.

The link bellow takes you to the Amazon product page for Sony ICFS22:

Step 2: What You'll Need


Sony ICFS22 Personal Radio

Variable resistor

Battery Pack

Styrene Sheets


A Switch

Spray paint

Liquid Cement/ Plastic Glue



Laser cutter

Soldering iron

Electronic tools (e.g. precision screwdrivers, a multi-meter)

Step 3: Taking the Radio Apart

We want to get the circuit board out of the plastic casing. You will need to unscrew all of the small screws in the back of the radio. You will then need to prise open the radio by inserting a screwdriver in the side of the radio where the snap fits are. I then had access to the circuit board but I wasn't able to hack it yet I still had to remove the circuit from the case, by unscrewing the small screws in the corner of the circuit board.

Step 4: Working With the Circuit Board

Once I had the circuit board free from the casing I removed both the volume and tuner dials, by unscrewing the small screws in the center of the dials. I kept the small screws to use later on.

Step 5: De-Soldering the Capacitive Tuner Dial

De-Soldering the capacitive tuner is quite a tricky process, what I had to do is remove all the solder off of the legs so that could take the tuner of the circuit board once the legs where loose I was able to take of the tuner, remembering the location of the legs.  

Step 6: Attaching the Tuner to the Circuit Board

As I knew which way round the tuner went I just had to solder wire onto the circuit board where the leg was and attaching the other end to the leg of the tuner.

Step 7: Attaching the Push Button Switch and Potentiometer

The Push Button Switch and Potentiometer replace the small volume dial that came on the radio.  The Pins on the Side (Positive and negative) attach to the switch while the other pins attach to the potentiometer.

Step 8: Adding the Battery Pack

To attach the battery pack it was a simple matter of removing the existing wires to the Sony battery pack and attaching my own one.  The solder points are clearly marked on the circuit board.   

Step 9: Making Some Cardboard Prototypes

You may want to make some quick cardboard prototypes of design just to see how everything will work. The Picture shows a model, which I started with and then adapted for the final design.

Step 10: Laser Cutting Out the Radio Parts

To make the Casing for the circuit board I adapted from the Sony radio I created a CAD file with the pieces I needed to cut out on the laser cutter. I choose to use 2mm Styrene, because it's quite a flexible plastic and lends its self well to heat bending.

Step 11: Heat Bending

I tried a number of different techniques to bend the sidepiece into shape, I heated the pieces in the oven and used a hot wire cutter, but the most successful method was to use a heat gun and heat the plastic over a mold. I used pieces of wood to hold the plastic down because it does get quite hot.

To make the mold I would recommend drawing around the shape onto a piece of chipboard or scrap wood, cut the shape out and then sand the side by 2mm for the tightest fit.

Step 12: Forming the Lid

To form the lid sidepiece I use the same technique of the heat gun but used a mold shaped like the lid.

Step 13: Assembly

Once I had all the components together and the case glued together I started assembling the radio. I may take some adjusting to fit the circuit board and components into the casing it is a very tight fit.     

Step 14: Spray Painting

I sprayed the back and front panels in black and spayed the side-parts in yellow. I had to tape up the sides with masking tape so they didn't get sprayed black. I did this process before I glued the front and top panel onto the casing.  

Step 15: Gluing on the Front

Once I had the circuit board in place I then glued the front on this obviously means that I couldn't get circuit any more. I left the Dials and top panel off to glue on later as shown in the next step.

Step 16: Glueing on the Top Panel

At this stage I had to arrange the three components together and attach them onto the top panel. This was a bit fiddly and I would recommend gluing the tuner dial in place, as it doesn't have the same fastening screws as the bought parts.

Step 17: Putting on the Dials

I bought some " Brushed Aluminum Knobs" for my radio but you could use plastic ones or make your own. I found that the dial fit well on the variable resistor but you may need to sand the Tuner shaft down in order for the dial to fit.

Step 18: Adding the Carabiner

I found this small karabiner, which had a handy strap, but you could any karabiner you fancy. In my model I used the karabiner as an aerial as I attached a wire to it.

Step 19: Extra Steps

I used some Glow in the dark spray paint on the sides of the radio so that the radio would be visible at night. The spray dried Clear which means it didn't affect the colour I had on below.  

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    3 Discussions


    8 years ago on Introduction

    very nice, this gives me an idea of using one of those little pelican brand waterproof cases and cramming my Grundig SW radio in it, it would be waterproof and tough....