vintage radio

Radio's with a Purpose by Ross Porter


By Guest Writer - Ross Porter


My dad could no longer operate a CD player or iPod. But he could use the music player that I designed and made for him, because it operates like a familiar two-knob radio. I was inspired to make this by the documentary Alive Inside which shows the profound joy felt by some people with dementia when listening to their favorite music.

Can I make one?

Yes! It doesn’t require much technical skill. No soldering. No woodworking. It mostly requires following the instructions. Takes 3-5 hours, depending on the model. Things you’ll be doing: ordering parts, downloading software, plugging in wires, gluing.

What does it cost?

This is open source, so the plans & software are free. You order the parts from Amazon etc. (I don’t sell anything). The parts cost $70-$235, depending on the model (or $45-$120 each if make 10+ units).

What about the wood?

Most people simply order the case from an online laser shop (included in the costs above). But you are welcome to laser cut it yourself or 3D print it yourself and save $.

Where is the music?

The music is on a standard USB thumb drive – look at the left side of the case.

Heartwarming feedback

It has been a long time since I saw such an emotional reaction from him (father). I let him at it without explanations at all, and he made it work without instructions. … Some of his favorites (songs) triggered immediate responses – I should have filmed it. — Ketil

Standard model – bamboo

Standard modelThis is probably the model you want – easy to make, versatile
Use with headphones plugged in the front
Or use with external powered speakers plugged in the front
Vintage cathedral style
Parts: ~$135, or ~@$70 in quantity 10+
Step by Step Build Instructions with Photos

Standard model – 3D printed

Standard model - 3D printedSame as above, but 3D printed
3D print it yourself or with a friend
Parts: ~$80, or ~$48 in quantity 10+
Thanks to Trey Bagley for designing this case
Step by Step Build Instructions with Photos

Plus model – bamboo

Plus model - bambooBuilt-in speakers
Looks like a tabletop radio from the 1950s
Not intended for headphones
Parts: ~$190, or ~@$100 in quantity 10+
Step by Step Build Instructions with Photos

Deluxe model – cherry

Deluxe model - cherry
Built-in speakers that auto mute with headphones
Parts: ~$250, or ~@$135 in quantity 10+
Step by Step Build Instructions with Photos
Need help choosing a model? See this datasheet, or e-mail me.
If you enjoy making assistive technology projects like this, you might enjoy some of the maker projects at Makers Making Change. They “connect makers to people with disabilities who need assistive technology”. They have a nice library of helpful projects.


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