The Box Radio


Introduction: The Box Radio

About: I am a 3rd year University student studying Innovative Design and Technology at University of Dundee.

Im in my 2nd year at University of Dundee studying Innovative Product Design, this semester i received a brief to design and build a radio casing. In this blog i will record how i built the final prototype radio including an exploded diagram, photos and any other relevant drawings or notes. I hope you enjoy it and have a go at making it yourself, any unclear detail please post and i will get back to you.

Step 1: Cutting and Parts List

Oak length, width, thickness and quantity
 - 180mm, 80mm, 14mm [ x2]
 - 80mm, 80mm, 14mm [ x2]
 - 231mm, 131, 12mm [ x2]
 - 80mm, 33mm, 33mm [ x4]

Pine dowel
 - 40mm, 26mm [ x2]

Radio circuit board and ariel [ x1]
 - spare wires
 - soldering iron

Step 2: Exploded View

Here is an Exploded view to help you see how all the parts will fit together. I have included a PDF because its quite difficult to read.

Step 3: Dismantling a Radio

We received this Sony radio to dismantle to use the circuit board in our radios however any radio can be dismantle but sizes can differ and you will have to size any holes etc to the correct sizing to your particular radio chip. I used precision screw drivers to take off the outer casing and get at the circuit board later i extended the different components to fit into the radio shell but until then keep it all in one piece.

Step 4: Building the Radio Body

First take your wood panels and use a router to route 7mm width and 12mm depth on each side of every piece (see pictures). Next take the four corner pieces and tape together flush and drill a 56mm hole in the very centre down 12mm on both sides, you now should have all 8 pieces ready to put together but next we need to cut the am/fm, headphone jack and ariel holes. Keep the 4 corner pieces taped together until gluing the box together and label their sides so you can tell which one goes where.

Step 5: Cutting the AM/FM Switch, Headphone Jack and Ariel Holes

Next take one of the 180mm lengths and measure 40mm in from one end to cut a 5mm by 1mm hole for the ariel. Cut a 6mm hole into the centre of a end piece for the headphone jack and then cut 7mm by 4mm square in the other for the Am/Fm switch. I found to have enough room for your fingers to place the component inside you need to cut a bigger hole through the rest of the wood. I cut a 20mm hole for all the components to about 1mm from the outside face (see pictures).

Step 6: Gluing the Radio Body Together

Layout the pieces in the correct order taking apart the corner pieces and placing them in the correct place, put glue on each edge and clamp together and leave for a few hours. After a few hours take the clamps of and sand the faces until they are flush.

Step 7: Making the Dials

Take the two pieces of dowel and use the lathe to create two knobs for the radio, turn them down to size leaving around 20mm to fit outside the hole. Next turn the inside and create a small gap to fit the plastic tuning control and volume control then sand to finish.

Step 8: Laser Cutting the Front and Back Panels

I created an autocad drawing which i then imported to illustrator i then cut the holes 26mm all the way through and a 52mm hole around 11mm from the back leaving 1mm wood for the laser cutter to cut through. Then i set up the laser cutter and etched the detail and cut the speaker grill out afterwards i sanded it.

Step 9: Extending the Circuit Board

I took this circuit board from a modern radio and desoldered the battery connection, AM/FM switch, speaker, on/off volume control, headphone jack and the ariel. I then extended all the above to a suitable length to fit into my radio and kept wires together with cable ties.

Step 10: Fitting the Circuit Board Inside the Radio

After extending everything to fit inside it was just a matter of sticking the headphone jack, Am/Fm switch into the hole as well as attaching the tuner and on/off volume control to the inside of the knobs. The ariel i attached to the radio and then soldered on so it could fit in the precise hole, the speaker i stuck to the back of the grill hole and i left the battery pack at the back.

Step 11: Finishing the Radio

With all the components in place i stuck the front panel on and screwed in the back panel so it could be easily accessible. This is the finished radio, I hope you enjoyed this instructable if there are any questions of any problem please leave a comment thanks.

By Jonny Lawrence



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    15 Discussions

    Somehow, I missed how you made the corner braces.........can you point that out for me??

    1 reply

    Yeah it looks like i actually missed that step out. I made all four corners in one go; first i cut them to the correct length and then held them together with tape in a square shape ( 2 by 2 ) next i clamped them in to a drill with a circular drill tip, I can't remember the size now but i should match the curved corners of the front panel. Next you drill down the thickness of the front panel so it can lie flush with the corners, (some sanding will be required) I did this both sides whilst all four corners were taped together. When you remove the tape just letter/ number which side fits to wear this will make it an easier when putting them in place for the gluing stage. I hope that helps if you have any more questions or if its still unclear ill do my best to answer / explain. Thanks for taking a look :)

    I've just seen your project and it's just cool. Have you tought on changing that soo small sounding smallspeaker? You may find easily one going lower in frequency that fits there ;don't miss to add some acoustic isolating stuff ( I used old but clean socks ) . Also you can toy it connecting to a full size loudspeaker ; it may surprise you the quality of the sound ! Maybe not High End but fair at the end ; I used to doy that with an old radiorecorder and got a fair sound.

    1 reply

    Thanks for the comment and kind words. This was a university project and we all received the exactly same radio circuit board which we had hacked previously, although we could add components and change the circuit i hadn't had much experience in electronics and time is always tight. The speaker is pretty good and is very loud anyway but could always be better! I didn't add any isolating "stuff" because i thought the sound output was ok (and time issues / experience issues). I would definitely like to change many things within the project itself this is just the end result when i finished my module its by far not a finish product and needs plenty of work which i would love to come back to at some point. Thanks again for the feedback and support!

    Great construction, and nice looking cabinet... I hate to be critical, but I can't see the "dial", and the donor radio looked to have a decent slide rule dial, meaning somewhat easier to tune in the stations.

    1 reply

    Cabinet? Constructive criticism is always welcome, Im not sure what you don't understand. The dials are the two knobs at the front of the radio and the donor radio had just two cogs attached to the circuit board which i built the knobs on too. I can assure you it still works just as efficiently and easily as before. Thanks for the comment.

    Yes i did, the entire radio was designed and built by me. Im in 2nd year of product design at university of Dundee and our class had to design and make a radio for this semester and this instructable is one of the assessments. Thanks for the comment.

    It looks like you are trying to invent the half frame to me.  Hopefully you won't find out why full frame panels have been around for a long time, and why the panel pieces float in the frame. So good luck, you may need it.

    Ah i had no knowledge of any of those, i just had the idea in my head and wanted to do it from the very start of my design process for a decorative feature thanks for the feedback. Im not sure what i have done fully but im glad you like it and thanks for the kind words. The radio project is actually completely finished but thanks for the luck hopefully ill receive a good grade!