Hack it Back 1930's Radio

Added new capabilities to an old radio to make it useful again, and it looks great too.

Similar projects worth following
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.

Vintage style radios are so cool looking. The problem is that the early ones are only battery powered and/or only tune in AM stations.

So how can we keep the vintage style but add new life into an old radio?

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.

A 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.

Portable Network Graphics (PNG) - 459.27 kB - 07/24/2022 at 05:02


Adobe Portable Document Format - 172.99 kB - 07/24/2022 at 05:02


x-python - 6.60 kB - 07/24/2022 at 05:02


x-python - 99.00 bytes - 07/24/2022 at 05:02


x-python - 125.00 bytes - 07/24/2022 at 05:02


View all 7 files

  • 1 × Old Tube Style Radio Philco 37-11
  • 1 × Raspberry Pi
  • 2 × 8" Speakers 4 ohms
  • 5 × Relay Power Supplies / Uninterruptible Power Supplies (UPS)
  • 1 × Amp with Bluetooth

View all 2 project logs

  • 1
    Find an old radio

    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. Even if your radio is working you can still update it to a new version. 

  • 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
    Raspberry Pi

    Next I got a raspberry pi. I used this because it has audio out and a bunch of inputs and outputs I can use to operate the knobs and relays. 

    Below is the the pinout diagram I used. Yours may be different based on the number of outputs you will control. 

View all 10 instructions

Enjoy this project?



Similar Projects

Does this project spark your interest?

Become a member to follow this project and never miss any updates