Radio cabinet media center


[Jon] picked up an old Philco radio from a pawn shop for $81. The electronics were shot and the controls had seen better days. So he set to work giving this old beast a makeover, turning it into a beauty of a media player.

The face plate for the controls had seen better days. His solution was to replace it, which gave him more options for mounting a display and controls. A menu system was implemented on the LCD display using a PIC18F4450 microcontroller. The chip also takes care of the three rotary encoders for the user interface and integrates the whole thing with the PC backend.

We’ll be the first to admit that a full PC is overkill in this situation. That being said, this was slow, unused system that is seeing new life. But is it worth the added noise and energy costs? Who knows, we think this leaves a lot of room for future revisions. Perhaps an NAS and wireless controls via iPhone or a similar device?

We’re a bit disappointed that [Jon] didn’t do some work to get better sound out of this. With a great big cabinet like this, the right speakers with a tube amp will produce some sweet sound. Certainly most things would be better than just using a pair of computer speakers. We’ll keep our eye out for an update that adds a tube kit to the project.


  1. kirov says:


    yet another story from the “not actually a hack” category

  2. Mic says:

    Yea you’re right stuffing computers in things that ain’t supposed to have computers is not new. I think a creative restore (eg, substitute parts for shit that don’t exist anymore.) of an antique would be cooler. Basically he hijacked the radios old style. Unfortunately, posting a comment almost exclusively in capitals with out grammar, has far less style. You attack everything you see friend. Post your creations and see how others respond. Take the chance, grow some balls, at least some ovaries. Post your greater ideas, or at least come up with a useful suggestion.

  3. kirov says:

    i’m posting constructive criticism don’t attack me fag i’m just trying to make this a better site

  4. kquest says:

    Accusing someone of being a “fag” is not and never will be considered constructive critisicm and will not make this a better site.

    If you have submitted one or many projects to be considered for inclusion in this site feel free to list them. Otherwise leave and never return you ignorant homophobic cretin.

  5. abbott says:

    personally, i think this is a pretty neat ‘mod’. while he didnt restore the radio to its prime (that wouldnt make it on HAD), he did retrofit a computer system into it. not bad. personally, i would have rebuilt the original amplifier, as im sure many of you would have, and input audio from the pc. make it sound good… they dont make them like they used to

  6. kquest says:

    Can’t agree more Abbott! I’ve personally taken a mini Jukebox case purchased on eBay and retro fitted it with a HD Media Centre and blu-ray drive. I’ll never claim it’s an original hack however has taken something that would otherwise be ditched and made something of it.

    There is room for improvement and future modding of the Radio Cabinet however I’d propose that the hacks that keep on giving are the most rewarding. :)

    Personally, my Jukebox needs lighting and an IR reciever integrating into the unit as well as a more efficient cooling mechanism. I look forward to the challenge!

  7. Hirudinea says:

    Well I like it, but he should have kept the original speaker-amp, and he should also have wireless for internet radio, but all in all its cool, not he should fill it up OTR.

  8. xrazorwirex says:

    I think that display work qualifies as a hack, although I’m real disappointed that he just set a computer and some desktop speakers inside the cavity of the cab….

  9. therealnewbe says:

    If you don’t have anything nice to say… Yes, he could’ve done things better. Saved the tube amp, found a suitable speaker/speakers, not put a whole computer in it, etc. But it IS still a hack.

    The base definition of a hack is getting pretty much anything to do something it wasn’t designed to do. In that respect this is defiantly a hack, just not an “uber leet, 200 hours of soldering and prototyping, 2000 dollar cost” hack.

    I personally don’t want to only see hacks I have no way in hell of even trying, and like to see the kinds of things nearly anyone could do with a weekend or two of spare time. Forgive hackaday for having some variety, jebas. Everyone has a little hacker in em, hackaday shows that even if you don’t know much about electronics, you can still “hack” things.

  10. therian says:

    @therealnewbe “The base definition of a hack is getting pretty much anything to do something it wasn’t designed to do. In that respect this is defiantly a hack, just not an “uber leet, 200 hours of soldering and prototyping, 2000 dollar cost” hack.”
    Please go do a hack, tape you mouth with duck tape

  11. anon says:

    you people are way too picky post your “better hacks” or stfu… that said a very nice hack using old parts! junk hacks are the best cheap and worth while!

  12. Jeremy C says:

    Not bad, the control system is really where I think this qualifies as a “hack”. If it was just a computer stuffed into a case that wouldn’t qualify.

  13. therian says:

    Mike whats up with “we” ?
    “We” like in multiply personalities disorder, or “we” as in we destructors of the hack a day ?

  14. blizzarddemon says:

    Man is kirov a twit. I don’t think cap locks are even remotely considered constructive. You wanna be constructive, make something some cares about and let us our peace.

  15. medix says:

    “The electronics were shot and the controls had seen better days”

    Last I checked, all an old radio usually needs is new caps..

  16. tj says:

    This looks like some terminal from BTSS.

  17. necronum says:

    not too shabby, although i have a similar unit of my own, where i took an old magnavox radio phonograph and hard wired a p4 motherboard into the cab with lcd display, and fully integrated the tube amplifier for sound.

  18. Mic says:

    Ha Kirov. Constructive criticism. Hardly, where is the constructive part? Calling people fags is what children do. Grow up retard.

  19. Mic says:

    @therian, I assume “we” refers to team hackaday, or maybe it is the people living in his head.

  20. Rod says:

    Oh my god…Enough already, to a simpleton like me this is a great idea and easy to do. I am going to do a similar thing like this.

    Its a process by the way people, you start out small and improve. You do not pick up the soldering iron one day and start fixing computer boards for a living… People who are putting this down are way too much into themselves.

  21. medix says:

    “Its a process by the way people, you start out small and improve.”

    If that’s the case, where (oh WHERE) are the improvements?

    I think many of (us) have seen a general decline in the quality of projects. This is the point behind the massive amounts of unrest (ideally in the hopes of returning things to the way they were).

  22. Donald Haase says:

    Don’t know if anyone would care (based on the response in these comments), but someone on a forum I frequent has been working on a very similar project for a number of weeks:

    His build log is a bit more extensive, including first restoring the radio, and he is using a macmini+small full color LCD.

  23. dom1nion says:

    Is it just my ageing eyesight or is that a Sub sat on top of the PC along with a pair of Satellite speakers. If so, I’m guessing the sound quality will be far better than “just a pair of desktop speakers”. 8/10

  24. LJ says:

    Is that a Monorail brand PC? I have an old one that looks just like that.

  25. JF says:

    Well done!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 96,742 other followers