VisionRadio : an Innovative Radio Design for the Blind or Visually Impaired.




Introduction: VisionRadio : an Innovative Radio Design for the Blind or Visually Impaired.

About: I study Innovative product design at the university of Dundee Scotland, i am currently in my 2nd year.

I am studying Product Design at the University of Dundee and this semesters project was to design a radio by deconstructing an existing radio and redesigning the outer shell. To begin this process we had to also design a character to design our radio around. I chose to design a radio for a person how is blind or has a visual impairment as i felt that this market is often overlooked and neglected when it comes to design.

My design, 'VisonRadio', uses a beautifully simple technique of tuning a radio easily, an has been simplified to produce an exciting and enjoyable way of interacting with your radio. The radio is switched on using the large dial on the front of the radio, this dial also controls the volume, reducing the number of controls to one. The radio is tuned using different key cards with predetermined stations cut into the sides which, when inserted into the side of the radio tunes it to your chosen station. these keys hang from the radio which is mounted on the wall like a clock, which allows for easy access for the user. 

This is is a guide shows how to make your very own 'VisionRadio'. I had access to a laser cutter but you could use card just as easily and cut it using a scalpel. hope you have fun!

Things you will need:

Sheet of 3mm thick red acrylic (perspex)
Sheet of 2mm thin white acrylic                                    ( substitute for card if you like)
Sheet of 1mm thin white styrene
1 Sony ICF-S22 Portable FM/AM Radio with External Speaker
4.5m Red elastic string
Flat white beads
1 scalpel
Fast bonding superglue suitable for plastics.

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Step 1: Step 1 : Exploded View

Here I have included a exploded diagram to help visualize how the radios parts will fit together, each part is labeled with the thickness  and color of plastic used.

Step 2: Deconstructing Sony Radio

First I began by taking apart the Sony radio we were given. I extended the ariel, battery pack, speaker and volume/power mechanism which allowed them to fit into my design. 

Step 3: Step 2 : Laser Cutting/ Cutting Parts

So the first thing to do is get all your parts cut out. As I said I had access to the laser cutter which was extremely valuable, but before making this final out of plastic I successfully made several out of card using a scalpel.  Here I have shared the file that I used on the computer to print the parts out.

Step 4: Step 3: Builidng Your Radio

You are know ready to start assembling you radio. I will try to divide this section into easy steps because it can get a bit confusing!


Clear yourself a big space so you don't superglue you or your radio parts to anything unexpected!
Get yourself some clamps, they are very useful for holding parts together.
Score the plastic surfaces you are gluing together with a scalpel beforehand, it makes it bond better.
A pair of tweezers help you get into small, hard to reach places !

Be prepared to improvise as you assemble, you may need to carve a little off here and there to get everything to work.

Step 5: 1. Constructing Your Battery Pack Holder

Take all the parts of the battery pack and slot together using the grooves and slots. Superglue around the edges to secure. Once dried, glue the pack to the base support plate, carefully lining up with the pre-cut opening

Step 6: 2. Finishing the Base Plate Construction

.Taking your red base plate and your now glued together support and battery pack holder, center them and glue together. Use the opening in the base plate for the battery pack as a guide.

Step 7: 3. Inserting Battery Pack

I have bought a small battery a pack to insert into the radio. Insert it into the holder you have created and push wires through the space in the holder through to the other side. This will later be reattached to the circuit board.

Step 8: 4. Radio Side

Next we can put on the side of the radio. This will create a cylinder large enough to contain the inner workings and also lets the sound out through the grills cut into it. I have made these patterns form the word ‘radio’ written in braille, but you could change it to whatever you like.

Take your side strip and carefully work it around the support on the base which provides an extra thickness to guide it around. I would recommend gluing it a little section at a time so that you ensure it is accurately flush with the baseplate and the support. Secure the end sections at the top, bottom and middle with three thin strips of cut plastic (or card). Once this is dry add in the support disc third of the way down form the top so that it doesn’t interfere with the circuit board.

Step 9: 5. Inside Supports

Now we can add in the speaker and circuit board support. Place the circuit board support roughly were I have in the diagram as this will support the circuit board in the right position later. Glue in the speaker support half sticking out from under the circuit support. I found this produced the best sound quality but if you have better result please let me know! I also stored all my spare wires under the circuit support to keep them out the way.

Also I made a small support to keep the ariel in place, glue to underside of disc support.

Step 10: 6. Keycards

Cut six pieces of red elastic string (like the kind you wrap presents with a Christmas), gradually form short to long, though make sure that they will reach the keycard entrance. Feed each one through the slightly bigger wholes on the side part, at the bottom of the radio. Knot on the other side to secure. Cut six short lengths of heat strink tube and feed onto each of the strings. Loop the string through your each of your keycards, creating a small loop. Add small dab of superglue and wind thread around to secure. Slide the heat shrink tube over this messy joint and carefully use a heat gun to shrink.

Finish keycards off with braille descriptions by sticking half beads on near the top. I used the alphabet given on the wiki page for braille.

Step 11: 7. Circuit Board

The key cards work using a cog system. I glued a small cog from a kinect play set to the existing tuning dial that is attached to the circuit board. I then constructed a key guiding system around the board ( see diagram ) so that when the key is inserted into the gap it turns the tuning dial which is attached to the circuit board on top, which tunes the radio. This whole construction can then be glued on top of the support. This should be carefully lined up beforehand as its positioning determines if the keycard will tune it or not. I recommend inserting a card through the opening in the side of the radio and putting into the mechanism and then gluing down as this will ensure good alignment.

Step 12: 8. Lid and Dial Support

Take both lid and dial support and glue together carefully lining up the centers.

Step 13: 14. Volume/power Dial:

It is important to feed the volume mechanism and wires through the hole in the lid before starting the next step as it will not be able to be done afterwards.

First begin by making a small thin disc with a whole in the middle to fit the existing volume dial into and glue together. You should still be able to access the small screw that will attach it to the mechanism. Screw this on to the switch and make sure it works.

Next glue together the three sections of white plastic to make the ergonomically shaped bit of the dial. Sand the edges to soften the feel and then add the cut disc on top for extra grip. Once this has all dried glue to the red pointer disc.

Then, glue this to the thin disc we made earlier. This then slots into the lid, held in place by the tightly fitting hole were the original volume disc is pushed in. the lid will now fit snugly into the top of the cylindrical sides, but do not glue this as it will allow you to get inside if something goes wrong.

Step 14: 15. Battery Pack Lid

take the two sections of the lid and glue together. keeping the one with the teeth to the bottom, glue a double layer of small peices of plastic on top to allow for opening the lid. insert into the back of the radio

Step 15: Finishing Touches

10. Finally add two hooks parallel to each other on the back of the radio so you can hang your radio up!

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    7 years ago on Introduction

    Very cool design. I love that you incorporated Braille cell design into the air holes as well. I work with braille translation and tactile map & graphic design. Though there are so many digital options for radio now, you are so right about product design for blind & VI being often overlooked. I love your idea and thoughtfulness about the blind community. One tiny detail to consider in future is the size of your actual braille on your tags. Your dots look giant. Check out UK or Scottish standard sizes for braille emboss. In the US we have ADA standards. These are just easier for the fingers to feel!