Vintage Radio Rocks With Modern Technology

old soviet transistor radio

[Madis] had an old Soviet Russian Neywa 402 transistor radio sitting on the shelf. It looked cool, but unfortunately that’s about all it did. Built in the 70’s one can only wonder about the past life of the radio. And one can only wonder what the past owner thought about the future of it, if they thought about it at all? Would they have thought that several decades in the future, a hardware hacker would introduce some strange and mysterious technology to breath new life into it? Probably not. But that’s exactly what happened.

[Madis] picked up a Bluetooth speaker from Ebay for a whopping $10. And like any good hacker, he immediately took it apart and ditched the original speaker. Wired up to the vintage radio, the Bluetooth receiver can be charged via a USB cable, which neatly tucks away in the back of the case. And with a few taps of his smart phone, he can stream audio to his new vintage Bluetooth speaker.

Though a simple hack, [Madis] does a great job at breathing new life into an antique electronic device. Check out the video after the break for a demonstration.


  1. kyle says:

    I’m always disappointed when vintage electronics are scrapped and replaced with newer modules. It would be nice to see new electronics placed into a case made to look vintage.

    • dutado says:

      Especially when it’s some cheap Bluetooth speaker that will have lower sound quality than the radio ever did.

      • qwerty says:

        Actually it is quite the opposite, those bt speakers, at least the ones I tried, offer a surprisingly good sound quality, certainly better than any AM radio ever built.

        And… yes I know about HiFi AM but that’s a very different context.

    • mister resistor says:

      I totally agree. You could for example repair the radio as it was and then build a fancy little FM transmitter so you have both the functionality and you keep the radio as it is.

      • fede.tft says:

        I agree as well. What’s fascinating about vintage technology is often what’s inside the device (in this case, the fact that a radio can be built using only discrete transistors), not the vintage look of outer case.
        If you replace the original circuit with a completely different, modern one, it just looks vintage, and is no longer interesting.

      • Foobar Bazbot says:

        Yeah, make a “fancy little FM transmitter” so you can play sound through your freshly repaired AM radio! Let me know how that works out…

  2. r4k says:

    Always such a shame to see vintage gear butchered.

    • Jerry says:

      It seems the options are for it to sit on the shelf, do nothing and look pretty, or have the guts replaced and be useful…oh yeah, and also sit on the shelf and look pretty as the outside is left pretty much intact.

      I’d choose the latter – and I guess I’ll get off your lawn now.

      • Mojoe says:

        +1 to both of you. Unfortunately, most people take the third option of throwing it in the trash. At least this way, someone still gets to enjoy it. This is a good blend of vintage look with modern functionality. For me, this is the ultimate in recycling.

        Nice work Madis!

      • HowardC says:

        Yeah but in what way is a crappy Bluetooth speaker in a pretty case useful?

        Bluetooth speakers are crap because you are tethered to a smart-phone or ect. which completely defeats the purpose of a stand-alone unit.

        It’s about as pointless as these “smart watches” that are actually just dumb old screens dependent upon a smart phone.

        • Z00111111 says:

          An FM radio is tethered to an FM transmitter, which completely defeats the purpose of a stand-alone unit, therefore an FM radio is junk?

          I would rather see Madis create his own circuitry for it and tie in any controls on the unit, but as it currently stands, this is pretty much the definition of a hack.

    • Greenaum says:

      There’s way more “vintage” gear in the world than anyone can use, especially if “vintage” means 1970s. Most of it has to go. It’s sad but that’s why antiques are valuable, because everyone threw most of their type away. If every old radio was kept, they’d be commonplace and annoying trash, their rarity gives them their preciousness.

      The direct opposite would be to keep everything forever. We’d get sick of the sight of it, you only miss things when they’ve gone, absense making the heart grow fonder.

      Would you want to keep everyone else’s thrown-out electronics at your house, til it becomes vintage? Or we could build a giant warehouse, and keep in it everything that might be interesting at some point in the future.

      If this was Marconi’s first radio gutted with a Bluetooth speaker in it I’d see your point, but it’s a mass-produced, unremarkable radio. If you owned it you’d never use it, it’d end up hoarded in the attic and worthless. At least this way it gets use.

  3. Hirudinea says:

    In Soviet Russia, you have bluetooth, because the dentistry sucked! Well if the radio didn’t work than this is a nice hack, get some OTR on your phone now.

  4. So this is hackaday now, Why is there no Digital radio mod with a net radio + blue tooth and wireless router.

    • eccentricelectron says:

      I think HaD should add a ‘difficulty’ score to hacks – this is a level 1 hack, the previous post re. ARM BGA boards is a level 10 hack… Be nice if we could filter on difficulty too, when looking for inspiration.

  5. dutado says:

    Looking at the PCB, it could not have been greatly damaged. Everything can be repaired. Vintage MW radios are usually a matter of hours or even less to get working. The only time there arises a problem is when there is some special magnetostriction/magnetomechanic filter.

  6. static says:

    Two bad he could have purchased 2 to have stereo, and created twice the agony for those who think this old radio was vintage. ;) As hard as it is to find any generic all American five table top AM radio, they might be vintage now days.

  7. echodelta says:

    Interesting how the Soviets listed all the frequencies in MHz… AM(MW) .4 to 1.6 not 400 to 1600 kHz.

  8. Madis says:

    Russians produced them (and similar models) so much in the soviet times that those radios are not very rare, you might get it with one euro in Estonia and with 20-30 USD in ebay for one that looks like new. Most people consider them trash, the sound was also very low quality (probably much better with bluetooth) and they often have the radio frequencies that are not in use anymore so you could not even use them. I used them as toys in the sandbox when I was little and I think this bluetooth speaker conversion is much better use for them.

  9. denis says:

    I dont see the issue woth gutting it for the case to repurpouse. it could be fixed but then itd never get used. so its either gut it or bin it. gutting old electronics was the only way I could get project cases back in the day. may aswell get used.

  10. Greenaum says:

    The black-and-white high contrast, the choice of music, the tattered workbench made of rough planks… You should submit this to a film festival! As good as any “art” film I ever saw.

  11. strider_mt2k says:

    I really like it a lot.
    I think I would have tried to bring the newer speaker into the retro case to have it sound as good as possible but that might not have been practical for this hack.
    Either way it is a great re-purposing job with hella-cool retro style.

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