wolfgang ziegler

„make stuff and blog about it“

Putting an Echo Dot into a Vintage Radio

September 10, 2019

Years ago, I bought this nice looking vintage tube radio in a garage sale. It did not work anymore but the exterior was still well-maintained, so it basically acted as a nice piece of decorative furniture.

vintage tube radio

I always had vague plans of somehow upcycling this radio into some techy gadget, but never came up with an idea actually worth pursuing. Only recently I figured, why not just putting that Echo Dot device into the radio that was also mainly idling around because of its crappy speaker? That sounded like a reasonably good idea, but I knew this would require some additional audio hardware, given the - already mentioned - crappy speaker of the Echo Dot and the broken speaker (also just a mono) in the radio. So I went looking for some audio hardware.

Salvaging Audio Hardware

In my box-with-electronic-equipment-that-I-might-someday-need I, surprisingly, found some hardware that would actually turn out useful for this project.

Creative Inspire 280 PC Speakers

You could probably call those Creative Inspire 280 PC Speakers vintage themselves since I probably owned them for 15+ years. But since they were still working fine and their sound quality is actually decent, I decided to use those for the project. Only, I did not like the way those speakers would look in my book shelf, especially next to the vintage radio, so I ripped them apart for parts. This gave me an amplifier and of course the actual bare speakers.

3D-Printing the Rest

Since I wanted to keep this project as low-budget as possible, I decided to model new speaker cases with Tinkercad and 3D-print them.

3D modelled speaker case

Then, I also modelled and 3D-printed a holder for the Echo Dot that would go inside the radio.

3D modelled holder for the Echo Dot

3D printed holder for the Echo Dot

This allowed me to attach the Echo Dot in a way that its microphones were just behind the fabric that originally covered the radio's speaker. This also has the nice effect, that when the Dot gets voice-activated, the blue halo shines through this fabric.

The insides of the vintage radio

Mission Accomplished!

Now I only had to put together all those parts and this project was finished. I have to say I am really happy with it since it does it's main job perfectly, which is "Alexa-enabling" another room in our home with finally good sound-quality and it also gave me the chance to upcycle and reuse some hardware I had lying around for ages.

Echo Dot vintage radio on the shelf