Vintage Silvertone Cabinet Gets Bluetooth Treatment

This Bluetooth speaker is full of delightful surprises. The outer shell is an antique radio cabinet, but its practically empty interior is a combination of Dead Bug circuitry and modern BT receiver.

[PJ Allen] found the BT receiver on Groupon and decided to whip up amplifier and threshold detector circuits using only parts he already had in order to make this vintage-looking Bluetooth speaker. The cabinet is from a Silvertone Model 1955 circa 1936. Don’t worry, no antiques were harmed in the making of this hack, the cabinet was empty when he bought it.

LM4871 based amplifiers
LM4871 based amplifiers

The amplifiers, one per speaker, began life as a circuit from TI’s LM4871  datasheet. Some of the departures came about because he didn’t have the exact component values, even paralleling capacitors to get in the right range. The finished board is a delightful mix of “Dead Bug” and quasi-Manhattan style construction, “quasi” because he carved up the ground plane instead of laying pads on top of it.

Look at the front of the cabinet and you’ll see a rectangular display. Watch the video below and you’ll see that it throbs in time to the music. To do that he came up with a threshold detector circuit which started out based on a circuit from a  Sharp/Optonica cassette tape deck, but to which he made improvements.

Not all cabinets come empty though. Check out this post by our own [Gregory L. Charvat] about restoring these wonderful old radios.

7 thoughts on “Vintage Silvertone Cabinet Gets Bluetooth Treatment

  1. I have mixed feelings on this the installation is pretty good and I like how it was made so the speakers can be removed in a non destructive manner no glue or epoxy etc.
    But if the original chassis was in restorable condition it’s kind of a waste to destroy an antique.
    In that case it if I wanted to add BT to it I’d tap into the audio amp circuit and maybe ad a switch on the back.

    1. I’m all for restorations, when feasible, and when practical.

      When you have a cabinet but not the original guts, I say GO for it! No one owns the cabinet but you. You can’t pretend that every single cabinet is a precious special gem that NEEDS full restoration to original stock condition, or nothing else… That’s simply not always a realistic thing. That’s little more than an emotionally sentimental response.

      I had three Sony Sobax calculators… I can’t remember the third one, but one was an ICC-500 and the other an ICC-600W. The two units shared significant electronics, and I was able to restore the 600W by salvaging the 500. The “brains” the the 500 were in terrible shape, but it had good nixie drivers. the 600W had several bad nixie drivers. Repair was simple. I didn’t lament gutting the parts from the 500 though, I got a fully restored ICC-600W out of it. The 500 case was in poor condition… BAD condition. I tossed it. The third Sobax… It’s case was outright shattered. I legit bought it just to part out.

      I love old calculators, but I don’t get “defensively sentimental” over every single last unit.

      I would say, this is a GREAT use for this cabinet. It gave a use to an empty shell, and did so while keeping the character and integrity of the cabinet. I can’t even fathom how this is a “waste” or how it’s “destroying” an antique. New life was given to this cabinet, by giving it a new duty to fulfill for the owner. For all anyone knows, the radio was gutted by the prior owner to restore something else. Who knows?

      I never knew what happened to the radio that was once in my 1939 Philco radio cabinet. It was just never there when I found it. I did far more altering modifications to my cabinet to build my PC case (including altering it’s height) than this guy did. my radio cabinet sat for years, empty, doing nothing but collecting dust and functioningg as an awkwardly limited shelf. Now it serves a purpose. More importantly, it serves a purpose that is useful to me. My only thing to say to those who want to preserve these things so badly… Go buy them up. I spent $50 at an antiques shop for that radio cabinet, entirely gutted. It didn’t even have the front bezel, or the speaker, or even all the vertical wood posts of the speaker grill! I brought it back from being an empty husk. Sure, it’s not a radio anymore, but it’s now useful. I enjoy seeing it. I can even enjoy reading the time off it’s nixie tube clock, that I know came out of giving life to the leftover parts of those two gutted Sony Sobax calculators.

Leave a Reply

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

WordPress.com Logo

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

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ 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 )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.