Retrofitted Retro Radio

In a world full of products that are only used for a brief time and then discarded, it gives a lot of us solace to know that there was a time when furniture was made out of solid wood and not particle board, or when coffee makers were made out of metal and not plastic. It’s hard to say exactly what precipitated the change to our one-time-use culture, but in the meantime there are projects that serve to re-purpose those old, durable products from another time so that they can stay relevant in today’s ever-changing world. [Jose]’s new old radio is a great example of this style of hack.

[Jose] had a 1970s-era single-speaker radio that he found in a thrift store. The first thought that he had to get the aesthetically pleasing radio working again was to install a Bluetooth receiver into the radio’s amplifier. This proved to be too time-consuming of a task, and [Jose] decided to drive the Bluetooth module off of the power circuit for the light bulb. He built a 6V AC to 4.2V DC circuit, swapped over the speaker cable, and started listening to his tunes. The modifications he made aren’t destructive, either. If he wants, he will be able to reconnect the original (and still functional) circuitry back to the speaker and pretend he’s back in 1970.

While this isn’t the most intricate hack we’ve ever featured, it’s always refreshing to see someone get use out of an old piece of technology rather than send it off to the landfill with all of our Pentium IIs or last year’s IKEA shelves that have already fallen apart. And even if the 70s aren’t your era of choice, perhaps something newer will inspire you to bust a move.

22 thoughts on “Retrofitted Retro Radio

    1. Radio stations largely suck now.

      In my youth, I used to be able to receive stations from two different cities (three by night). It was really cool listening to the Dr. Demento show at night, Casey Kasem’s top 40 hits, Mark S. Allen before he got weirder, or the weekend nonstop mixes at night as well as your usual selection of country, oldies, heavy metal, whatever.

      But those stations turned down their power slightly (it seems) and the entire area is swamped with local crap. It’s not even stupidly funny shit like UHF or Wayne’s World. It’s some lame eclectic mix of country, 50’s or 70’s (strangely no 60’s), and soft rock crap. Not different stations playing *just* country or oldies. But literally every station playing the same selection of utter crap. The city stations play crap too but at least you can choose the type.

      Now when I go driving log distances, I use Syrius Radio in the newer car or load up my portable network with its 1TB of movies, shows and music sorted into virtual stations. No need for shitty stations.

      1. Thank Clear Channel and their ilk for the destruction of local, independent radio. Luckily I live in an area with a strong public, college, indie radio scene.

        This hack reminds me of the time I put an old computer with a DOS mp3 player loaded on it and a hard drive full of mp3s in an older HiFi system with a KICKASS tube amp. That thing was LOUD an had great sound.

        1. Last time I turned on a radio, there was one NPR station. The rest are the Clear Channel types: rock/hiphop, rap, or country. Thankfully one true independant station in the state, with several repeaters of which none are in range, broadcasts online so I can tune in anywhere.

      2. Ding ding ding! yup, that’s why I decided not to keep the radio functionality, nothing of value on the radio i can’t get from pandora. I am wanting to add a little raspberry pi or something to play RadioEchoes so we can listen to some good old radio programs.

    1. If you are thinking what I think you’re thinking (a bridge followed by a couple of diodes to drop 1.2V) then you better check your arithmetic: that will yield closer to 7.3Vdc, not 4.8Vdc.

      1. 6 Series diodes as a half wave rectifier.
        The math –
        6VAC (RMS) is 8.5V Peek – 3.6V (series diodes) leaves 4.9V close enough.
        You could full bridge rectify it with 8 diodes.

  1. It’s hard to say exactly what precipitated the change to our one-time-use culture


    It’s called obsolescence and it’s used to keep minimum wage people employed who would otherwise be begging for work around farm areas just to stay clothed and fed just like they did before the Industrial revolution, it now keeps investors and stocks in a game played by useless people who would otherwise be begging them selves for food and clothes inside cubicles fiddling with imaginary numbers being an utter nuisance and inflicting their inane concoctions ideals and philosophy through media saying how to be successful in life, Because they’ve carved a little niche for them selves by having media shove it in your face incessantly, So brainwashing occurs duping people into purchasing these idiotic

    Then he dies of cancer age 40 so all the little mushrooms of the world stand up screaming and exclaim I’ll have what he’s having. But really there’s groups whom have banded together for set specific guidelines on engineered faults by tolerance of wear and have a maximum time for failure otherwise they will be penalised through limiting of material purchasing or fined and other voodoo which would cause loss of profit workforce or closure by the others in the group.

    Yeah Big corporations are Evil yet nobody want’s to articulate they want their pie they accept the bits of fat thrown at them and go on living apathetically hyped about the fat they get to chew when someone screws them over and they’re always standing with empty speculation but I suspect that short term memory loss from inhaling has something to do with that.

    1. I thought it was the high unemployment and inflation rates caused by the early 1980’s recession. But hey that’s too logical to be the *right* answer so it must have been when aliens started dominating human thought :)

  2. The Beatles were 4 people and a agent. They turned the world upside down. The corporate holeywood music that came in the 80’s was the beginning of the end. MTV & Ghostbuster, did it in. By the nineties nothing is left cause everyone is buying DVD’s of their movie crap. While 2 collage towns near us have kickass community radio, we only have kindergarten Purdue with lisping announcers. Broadcast radio, we have 3 times as many Jesus stations as commercial stations and they suck. It’s like what has happened to SW radio, one big pulpit.

    The radio in question is a piece of crap and I hold no grudge if it’s trashed. Those little clear plastic tuning capacitors are always associated with junk. A car radio of the same vintage will whoop ass. However blurtooth is worse. Just don’t use it, not for calling not for listening.

  3. THAT is a radio! Those thru-hole components, the large coil with its ferrite core, that wax-like thing they used to secure compoments. Just like when I was a little boy, I can still smell the circuit. I cry a little bit every time I open a radio and see a single chip solution.

  4. – It’s hard to say exactly what precipitated the change to our one-time-use culture

    Consumerism, plus the associated well planned industry+govt driven witch hunt against anyone who warned about the consequences (see also “mccarthyism”).

    1. We haven’t met with the consequences yet. We will eventually have to return to long lasting products. In some parts of Europe you have to pay a ‘disposal fee’ on a computer when you buy it but that’s not the real issue.

      We have the star rating system for product efficiency of energy usage and while that may make us feel warm and bubbly the real truth is still hidden. The energy saving you make with a slightly more efficient product is nothing compared to the energy needed to manufacture it in the first place.

      So by having products that don’t last long we are going backwards with energy efficiency, while we pretend that we are doing our thing with ever so slightly more efficient products.

      On top of that we are taking limited elements like gold and lithium and distributing them in land fill where they are harder to extract than the original mining. This will make them more expensive and increase the energy cost of reclaiming then when these finite resources are stretched.

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