Retro Radio

Updated a 1930's cabinet style radio to play music of its era and simulates tuning radio stations. Oh, and it has Bluetooth.

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Instead of restoring this radio, I decided it would be better to make it more modern and keep the retro style. Looks old, performs like new.

I started collecting vintage radios at one time. Mainly because I think they are cool and they usually go for pretty cheap. I got this one for free from a family member. It was in pretty bad shape. I had plans to restore it back to original but then I realized that it only tunes in AM station and would be of little use. But I love the way it looks with the tubes, soft lighting, big dial, and wood cabinet. 

So! I decided to make it play music of its era. But, I wanted it to tune in a radio station (mp3) using the dial and keep the original parts.

The Raspberry Pi is playing two MP3s at the same time to create the "tuning" effect. The tone knob now selects between 1930, 1940s, 1930s Christmas, and War of the Worlds radio broadcast by Orson Welles.

The video has more detail on exactly how it works. I think you will enjoy the video. Please let me know of any questions or comments. These old radios are a work of art! This one will have many more years of life in it as long as that Raspberry Pi keeps going.

The code that makes this go.

plain - 6.60 kB - 07/02/2019 at 04:25



Wire Diagram

Adobe Portable Document Format - 172.99 kB - 07/02/2019 at 04:25


  • 1 × 1937 Philco 37-11 Radio
  • 1 × Raspberry Pi Any flavor
  • 1 × Pyle Amp Pyle PFA330BT - 90 Watt Bluetooth Wireless Streaming Stereo
  • 1 × 2 8" speakers 4Ohm Goldwood Sound GW-208/4 OEM 8" Woofer 200 Watts 4ohm
  • 1 × Quad relay DZS Elec 12V 4 Channel High / Low Level Trigger with Optical Isolation Relay Module

View all 6 components

  • Part 2 of 2

    W. Jason Altice07/07/2019 at 03:19 0 comments

    Project done!

    Just finished the 2nd part of this build. I think it turned out really well and I'm happy with the results. The radio has been used almost every day since I finished it. 

    Here is the link to the radio knobs.

    And here is the link to the 2nd video. Please like, comment, subscribe to the video. It keeps the motivation going.

  • Part 1 of 2

    W. Jason Altice07/02/2019 at 04:31 0 comments

    I split this project into 2 videos. The first one covers me doing most of the restore and testing of the radio. The second video will show it working with the new cabinet. The first one is here:

    I'm working on the second video and it should be posted....soon?

View all 2 project logs

  • 1
    Get an old radio

    First step can be difficult. There are lots of places to get an old radio. But, do you want a cabinet style one? I think they look really cool and can really be a corner piece of your decoration. Especially, if it is functional. A lot of people would rather restore these radios, but they typically only play AM stations if prior to the 1940s. So I did not have much use for a restored radio. In fact, I think I would do this project even if it was working. In any case, grab yourself an old radio.

  • 2
    Clean up radio parts

    If the radio has been sitting in the attic for a long time, then there is most likely years of yuck to clean off. 

    The disassembly and cleaning is one of my favorite parts of the job.

  • 3
    Fresh paint

    In some cases, you may want to paint the platform. Usually these are all bare metal and have a bit of rust on them. I used an aluminum color spray paint to protect the metal. 

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Enjoy this project?



Tom Nardi wrote 07/03/2019 at 03:06 point

Really love the way you are approaching the conversion, it's easy to just gut it and replace it with modern gear, but grafting the old and new is a more respectful approach I think. Can't wait to see part two.

I've actually been looking for an old radio to do a conversion like this on for years, but I've never found a good donor. This project inspiring me to start looking a little harder.

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W. Jason Altice wrote 07/04/2019 at 03:24 point

Part 2 should be up in a couple weeks. I'm really happy you liked what I did and inspired you a little. Old Radios are everywhere, one will fall in your lap soon enough. Thank You!

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