Fallout 4 inspired radio build

This is a documentation of a radio that I built, inspired by the video game series fallout, using pre-made electronics components that can be purchased and assembled.

Just to quickly run down the electronics and parts list:

The speakers used were HiVi B4N as shown bewlow. These are very nice speakers for the price. Unfortunately, in my small enclosure, I was unable to achieve the proper amount of box volume so I don’t feel that they are performing at their potential. I had to make sacrafices for portabliity though.

For the amp, I chose to go class D due to the high efficiency. The Sure series of class D component amp boards had very good reviews, so I chose to use the 2x25W model shown below.

I used the Sure bluetooth 2.1 module shown middle above to handle the bluetooth interface. This board is surprisingly simple and works very well. I purchased another to have on hand for the next project.

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This project started out as a drawing on a piece of pink paper. After selecting the components, I wnto on to design the radio in sketchup.

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The design (shown above) was exported from sketchup via .STL and brought into art cam, where the program for the CNC was created. Due to the size of my CNC machine, the radio had to be kept under 7-1/4″ tall and under 12.5″ wide.

Two different types of wood were alternated for the body: Maple and Mahogany. I ran the pieces through a table saw to make strips of the wood, then proceeded to glue them together. Each successive layer was alternated top over sides and then sides over top to make a tongue and groove effect when it was all put together to increase strength.

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After each layer was glued, they were put on a CNC in a jig and cut using a 3/8″ end mill router bit. All the layers were then glued together to make up the body of the radio.

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The back was a simple cutout, with the fallout meme guy created using an image attained online and creating vector art by means of illustrator and the live trace tool. The back was made to screw on using trim screws so the unit could be worked on.

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All the pieces with detail milled into them were painted black with regular spray paint. The face was then sanded after the paint dried to leave the detail in black.

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The front was actually created twice, as I accidentally crashed the machine into the material on the last cut nonetheless! There was a lot of thought and time put into the front, as it had to recess the speakers, the analog meter, and the LEDs and wiring. The grill section of the front was cutout using a 1/4″ end mill bit.

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After all the pieces were put together, I sanded the body of the radio until all joints were smooth. There was no stain put on this piece, only lacquer. I used gloss spray lacquer from Minwax. I find this makes a great finish on all my small projects and it’s not as messy to apply. I also chose to hit the edges with a router to bevel them on the front and back.

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After the radio was finished, I started installing all the electronics that I purchased. The meter portion is driven off of the output to the speakers. I used a high resistance resistor divider to bring the voltage of the output down to the range that the meter can use. The meter pegs at +1v, and the output of the sure amplifier is 10+V.

The makeshift VU display (just for looks) was taken from an old analog meter. 4 LEDs (appropriately colored green) were placed underneath the meter for effect. They are tied directly to the power switch.

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For power, I used about the only lead acid battery that can fit in the radio. It’s all a very tight squeeze, but it works. After realizing that I need a way to charge the battery without pulling it from the radio or taking it apart, I used the CNC to make a cutout in the back of the radio, and I put a metal panel on the back which was just a spare piece of PCB material that had not been etched. I cleaned the copper up using steel wool and then sprayed with the lacquer to keep the clean copper finish.

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I put a female power jack on the back that connects directly to the lead acid battery terminals. To charge, I purchased a UTG charger (shown below) that I connected a cable and the corresponding male terminal plug. I like this unit because it has a green/red indicator to communicate when charging is complete.

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This radio gets extremely loud, to the point where it will distort. The only other option I may add in the future is a volume knob, a potentiometer that shorts the signal to ground. Currently, volume is controlled via the bluetooth device, which can create a nice scare if the volume is turned all the way up when starting some music.

Overall, I feel I’ve achieved the look I set out for. I didn’t want to overcomplicate the radio by using a bunch of home-made electronic devices or an AVR to control meter or light dimming. And, if anything, it gave me something to do while waiting for Fallout 4 to arrive! Please feel free to leave comments, suggestions, or corrections.