Ever since I was little, I’ve loved the look of vintage radio sets. I never much cared for the crackly, low quality sound which came out of them, but I loved the look. I’ve not had a radio in the workshop since I rebuilt it a few years back, but it’s always been on my to do list. Having small kids running around while I was working was motivation to not have a radio, I didn’t want to get distracted listening to the radio and not hear a little one screaming for help because they’ve fallen out of a tree and I can’t see them. So, it was put on the back burner.
But the kids are bigger now and can be left alone, so my lonely time in the shop can come to an end!
The design went through a number of iterations. I was originally keen to try wood bending and use veneer sheets for the finish, but the cost put me off here. It wasn’t prohibitively expensive, but seeing as I have so many short lengths of attractive spotted gum lying around, I thought it would be silly to spend money, so that made the choice of material fairly easy in the end.
You can download the SketchUp model I made by clicking here, or on the image below.
Seeing as I would be making the arch from solid wood, that also meant it would be a simple arch shape, as opposed to my original cathedral shape design which had more of a point at the top.
The most important part was the scroll-sawn logo on the radio. It had to be something that I would instantly recognize when glancing at it. And I thought it would be nice to have something which itself was old, a design which has stood the test of time. Seeing as I would use this radio mainly for listening to the football call, it made it an obvious choice, the logo of my AFL team, the Carlton Blues.
The Blues are over 150 years old, not bad for a team in a country which is only a couple hundred years old itself! They’ve won the equal most premierships, (championships/superbowls) of any club with 16, but to be honest, they’ve gone through a really rough patch the last couple decades. It seems to be turning around now though, we are, if not on the up, at least heading in the right direction. Good times ahead.
So the logo I chose to add was the one they wore through the 80’s and most of the 90’s, the logo which players wore when I was kid watching from the sidelines. As a final touch, I made the cut out around the logo in the shape of an AFL player jumper, I think the final effect is really cool.
Well this would just be a mishapen wooded box if I didn’t have some electronics in there, and I wasn’t keen on throwing in the original valves and wiring this type of radio would have, I wanted something a little newer.
To that end I sourced the following hardware as cheaply as I could:
- The heart of the device is the MP3 player module.
- It plays FM radio and MP3’s from an SD card or USB stick
- It has a remote to control it as well
- You can also buy models which connect via bluetooth to your phone.
- My one cost me around $8, hit this link to search eBay for something similar.
- The player requires an amplifier to power the speakers. I bought this small kit from jaycar.com.au.
- Any half decent electronics hobby store will have a small amp kit for you to build. There are only around 8 components on it, very easy and fun to solder together. Or you can also buy small amps from ebay as well.
- A couple of speakers. I picked these ones (or very similar ones at least) from jaycar.com.au
- A battery pack. The MP3 module expects around 4.5-5 volts. That is the power output of your standard USB connection on your computer, I could have bought a small power pack and plugged it into the wall, or, its also the output of 3 AA batteries. I wanted to have this on the wall with no cords hanging out, so the battery pack was my choice.
- Unfortunately I picked up the wrong pack. I bought one for AAA batteries but I only had AA batteries in the house. Until I go back and get the proper one I’m not using a battery pack at all, I’ve just hacked together a holder for the batteries with rubber bands… no photos of that!
The build is covered in the video fairly comprehensively so I won’t go into much detail here.
Just have a watch!
My original inspiration for building this radio came from WelshWoodWorking, a user on Instructables.com. He built his radio a while ago and posted his instructions, so, thanks mate, very much appreciated!
So there you go. This radio is great fun to use and has made quite a few lazy afternoons much more enjoyable out in the shop. I can’t wait for the AFL season to start up in a few weeks so I can hear my beloved Blues winning a few games!
Any thoughts on this project? Feel free to leave them below.