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Thread: Custom-Made Radio Receiver/Boombox Ideas

  1. #1
    The User DemonDragonJ's Avatar
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    Default Custom-Made Radio Receiver/Boombox Ideas

    I have searched for a new radio receiver and/or boombox, but none have been perfectly satisfactory for me (although the 3-speaker TDK "Life on Record" unit did initially seem appealing), so I have decided that I shall build my own. I have never before undertaken a task of this magnitude, so I shall definitely need to carefully plan every stage of the project, and I shall also be seeking advice from other users, here.

    I plan to use a car audio system and place it into a case that I shall construct myself. For the case, I plan to use the slotted steel bars that are often used for stop signs as its internal frame, with the aluminum plate with diamond pattern that is often used for toolboxes as its external casing, held in place by nuts and bolts and welded together at the edges. I shall also likely put rubber feet on its bottom, for stability, and have some form of handle to carry it around.

    That part of the project shall be relatively easy in comparison to selecting the electronic parts that I shall use. I shall use the receiver/console from a car's audio system as the main unit of my device, and, as most of those receivers have four audio channels, I shall install four speakers in the device: two in its front and two in the rear, with a connector to attach a subwoofer unit to its separately. I shall also need an amplifier, preferably a 5-channel amplifier, so that the receiver can power the subwoofer without needing a separate amplifier for it. However, there are so many different brands of these devices that I am uncertain as to which I should use for my project, and I also am uncertain about what I should use to power this device.

    For the receiver, I seek a device that can receive AM and FM transmissions, can play CD's, and (most importantly) allows manual auxiliary input through a standard 3.5 mm audio connector, so that I may use my .mp3 player with it. For speakers, I shall likely seek those with higher wattage, for better audio quality (I know that higher wattage is not automatically an indicator of better quality, but having higher wattage certainly does not make the sound quality any worse). And most essential of all, I shall need a battery to power everything. I was planning to use a sealed lead-acid 12-volt battery, which can be found at many major hardware stores, but I hope that such a battery shall be sufficient, as a car's battery must power far more than only its audio system, while the battery in this device shall be powering only the audio system.

    Also, I am hoping to have a manner of charging the battery in the device, without needing to remove the battery from the device. I am imagining using some form of power converter to convert 120 volts from an average outlet (in the United States) to 12 volts, to recharge the battery, preferably while the device is in use, much like how a laptop computer can be charged while it is in use. I have found 12-to-120-volt converters, for charging household devices when driving a car, but I have not yet found a 120-to-12-volt converter, which is what I seek.

    I realize that I have said much in a single post, but I am enthusiastic about this idea, and wished to provide as much information about it as I could. I actually cannot pursue this task until I can afford the price of all the parts that I shall require, but I wished to discuss it and obtain idea now, so that I shall have a clear direction and plan for when I am ready to pursue it. Thank you very much, and I await your responses.
    "When the people fear the government, there is tyranny; when the government fears the people, there is liberty." -Thomas Jefferson.

    "Those who would trade their freedoms for security will have neither." -Benjamin Franklin

  2. #2
    Moderator TLHarrell's Avatar
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    Default Re: Custom-Made Radio Receiver/Boombox Ideas

    I'd consider looking at some Logitech 5.1 speaker packages to use as a base for the speaker/amplifier system. That'll give you a ready made set of very decent speakers and subwoofer, and they run off of DC once you get past the power supply input. As far as CD's, I'd drop the idea. I prefer to carry around my MP3 player or my Android phone instead of physical media. AM radio I rarely listen to, and many MP3 players and phones have FM radio built in (if you're into listening to 20 minutes of commercials every two songs). For batteries, look into some LiPo packs or similar to what TechnoChicken used for his electric scooter build. Lots of good information there. And for the box, I'd consider building the interior from 1/4" MDF, with 3/4"x3/4" wood at the corners for gluing and screwing. You can then sheet over the box with metal if desired. Reason for this is MDF is dead flat as far as resonance. Steel skin with nothing behind it will sound really bad.

    Just my two bits. That's the way I'd do it if I needed such a device.
    I have a hammer! I can put things together! I can knock things apart! I can alter my environment at will and make an incredible din all the while! -Calvin

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    Water Cooled Stonerboy779's Avatar
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    Default Re: Custom-Made Radio Receiver/Boombox Ideas

    Does this need to be portable or can it be always be plugged into a power socket?

    If the latter is possible get yourself a decent powered computer PSU with a strong 12v rail, a small form digital 2ch car amp, whatever car radio you wish but one with front aux, usb and bluetooth would be pretty good. Then you need to get some semi decent 2ch splits to run from the amp and an ariel for best radio reception.

    Then you can mount everything in an mdf enclosure and if you want any help modding the PSU or even setting up a switch that would make use of the trickle current wire in the PSU so you can store radio presets then I can definitely help you there.

    Edit: Also when using good quality amped splits in well sealed and properly sized ie specified internal volumes the bass response is far better than some ****ty small sub would give. Far cleaner and much better sounding. Sticking to two ch splits would give you the best sound.

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    Undead Pirate d_stilgar's Avatar
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    Default Re: Custom-Made Radio Receiver/Boombox Ideas

    I would rely heavily on this build at metku mods for inspiration.

    I've been wanting to make my own ghetto blaster as well, but haven't had the time, tools, or money. Hopefully this will help you out.

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    Water Cooled Stonerboy779's Avatar
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    Default Re: Custom-Made Radio Receiver/Boombox Ideas

    A little list

    Kenwood KDC-BT652U - $150 - http://www.sonicelectronix.com/item_...DC-BT652U.html

    MB Quart ONX4.80 - $120 - http://www.sonicelectronix.com/item_...t-ONX4.80.html

    MB Quart PVL 216 - $120x2 ($240) - http://www.sonicelectronix.com/item_...t-PVL-216.html

    Silverstone Strider Essential series ST60F-ES 600W - $60 - http://www.newegg.com/Product/Produc...82E16817256071


    I would make a box with 3 partitions so that the speakers are in their own sealed enclosures on either end. The center would have the radio and the PSU will a grill somewhere to let air through. Hanging off the back I would have the amp with all cables fed back into the center box with radio and psu then somewhere I would have a set of banana plugs so you can easily add and remove two additional satalite speakers that would be made using the additional set of speakers in my short list.

    Banana plus, cabling and all your little extras could be picked up from parts express and going with my suggested parts and the mdf construction and a lick of paint you are looking at $600 for 320watt rms off clean powered speakers with bluetooth playback, direct ipod control, am/fm radio and cd playback.

  6. #6
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    Default Re: Custom-Made Radio Receiver/Boombox Ideas

    i did something like this years ago. i used thin plywood for the case, the speakers form an old broken jvc boom box, the old clarion cd player from my car, an old at power supply, and a radio shack car antenna mounted to the back. even without an extra amplifier, it was plenty loud enough. the whole thing cost me just a few bucks for the antenna, everything else was free.

  7. #7
    Religiously tolerant. Luke122's Avatar
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    Default Re: Custom-Made Radio Receiver/Boombox Ideas


    \m/ d(-_-)b \m/

    R9 290X+Kraken+Corsair H90, Xeon 5649@4ghz, Asus P6T-WS Pro

  8. #8
    The User DemonDragonJ's Avatar
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    Default Re: Custom-Made Radio Receiver/Boombox Ideas

    Quote Originally Posted by TLHarrell View Post
    I'd consider looking at some Logitech 5.1 speaker packages to use as a base for the speaker/amplifier system. That'll give you a ready made set of very decent speakers and subwoofer, and they run off of DC once you get past the power supply input. As far as CD's, I'd drop the idea. I prefer to carry around my MP3 player or my Android phone instead of physical media. AM radio I rarely listen to, and many MP3 players and phones have FM radio built in (if you're into listening to 20 minutes of commercials every two songs). For batteries, look into some LiPo packs or similar to what TechnoChicken used for his electric scooter build. Lots of good information there. And for the box, I'd consider building the interior from 1/4" MDF, with 3/4"x3/4" wood at the corners for gluing and screwing. You can then sheet over the box with metal if desired. Reason for this is MDF is dead flat as far as resonance. Steel skin with nothing behind it will sound really bad.
    Is medium-density fiberboard truly the best material to use? I wish to use only metals in the making of the case for my device, as metals are my favorite materials with which to work, but if I must use another material, would solid, natural wood provide the same results as fiberboard? I much prefer to use natural wood over synthetic materials, such as fiberboard and particleboard, as I consider those materials to be "cheap" and "artificial." And could I lay the aluminum plate with diamond pattern over the case material, as I am very fond of its appearance?

    And I could use computer speakers, but I really wish to use a vehicle's audio system, for the challenge of the project, the sound quality, and the "coolness" aspect/prestige of using such components.

    Quote Originally Posted by Stonerboy779 View Post
    Does this need to be portable or can it be always be plugged into a power socket?

    If the latter is possible get yourself a decent powered computer PSU with a strong 12v rail, a small form digital 2ch car amp, whatever car radio you wish but one with front aux, usb and bluetooth would be pretty good. Then you need to get some semi decent 2ch splits to run from the amp and an ariel for best radio reception.

    Then you can mount everything in an mdf enclosure and if you want any help modding the PSU or even setting up a switch that would make use of the trickle current wire in the PSU so you can store radio presets then I can definitely help you there.

    Edit: Also when using good quality amped splits in well sealed and properly sized ie specified internal volumes the bass response is far better than some ****ty small sub would give. Far cleaner and much better sounding. Sticking to two ch splits would give you the best sound.
    Yes, I do wish for my device to be portable, as are most music-playing devices available currently, so it shall need a battery, but I wish for it to be capable of being charged from a normal wall socket, as can be most modern electronic devices. For that purpose, I shall need a power converter than can convert 120 volts to a lower voltage, most likely 12 volts, but most devices that I have found convert 12 volts to 120 volts, for powering a household device in a vehicle, which is the exact opposite of what I require. I also am uncertain about using a computer's power supply, mostly because I am not certain if its physical connectors or electrical current are compatible with those of whatever audio device I seek to use.

    Quote Originally Posted by d_stilgar View Post
    I would rely heavily on this build at metku mods for inspiration.
    Yes, that custom-made device is very much what I have imagined my own device to be like. I shall definitely use it as a model and inspiration for my own project.
    "When the people fear the government, there is tyranny; when the government fears the people, there is liberty." -Thomas Jefferson.

    "Those who would trade their freedoms for security will have neither." -Benjamin Franklin

  9. #9
    Water Cooled Stonerboy779's Avatar
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    Default Re: Custom-Made Radio Receiver/Boombox Ideas

    Quote Originally Posted by DemonDragonJ View Post
    Is medium-density fiberboard truly the best material to use? I wish to use only metals in the making of the case for my device, as metals are my favorite materials with which to work, but if I must use another material, would solid, natural wood provide the same results as fiberboard?
    Fiberboard is good because it is so cheap and easy to work with it is also dense and is pretty much the go to material when people are making speaker boxes.

    I much prefer to use natural wood over synthetic materials, such as fiberboard and particleboard, as I consider those materials to be "cheap" and "artificial." And could I lay the aluminum plate with diamond pattern over the case material, as I am very fond of its appearance?
    If you are going to clad it in diamond plate you may as well just make it from mdf first it would be best.

    Yes, I do wish for my device to be portable, as are most music-playing devices available currently, so it shall need a battery, but I wish for it to be capable of being charged from a normal wall socket, as can be most modern electronic devices. For that purpose, I shall need a power converter than can convert 120 volts to a lower voltage, most likely 12 volts, but most devices that I have found convert 12 volts to 120 volts, for powering a household device in a vehicle, which is the exact opposite of what I require. I also am uncertain about using a computer's power supply, mostly because I am not certain if its physical connectors or electrical current are compatible with those of whatever audio device I seek to use..
    It is a computer power supply and think for a second about what the primary voltage in a computer is, yes 12V.
    I have modded several PSUs for use in 12v projects and I have one beside me right now running an old car amp. I modded another one in a little wooden box to become a dedicated powersupply for all the car 12v accessories like car fridges when we stay at camping sites.

    As a curiosity project a while ago I made up a box for some car speakers and a car headunit. And I went about the as it turns out simple way of maintaining the headunit memory although it was only maintained when the psu was plugged in getting trickle current although the simple addition of a 9v battery for when it is disconnected from power would also work.

    I honestly wouldn't bother looking to anything else if you wanted to go from 120v to 12v cheaply, easily and efficiently.

  10. #10
    Moderator TLHarrell's Avatar
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    Default Re: Custom-Made Radio Receiver/Boombox Ideas

    MDF is by far better than chipboard or particle board. It is extremely dense, and the outside faces are dead smooth. I use 1/4" MDF for computer case structural components from time to time as it's inexpensive and very easy to work with (makes some super fine dust though). 3/4" MDF makes for super solid cabinet construction. If you rabbet joint it, glue and screws (I just use 1" drywall screws and countersink the heads) it makes for ridiculously strong joinery. Use a couple good coats of sealer on it, especially on the edges and it'll last practically forever. The smooth faces can easily take a lamination of aluminum diamond plate. Cut the diamond plate to fit, then use a good spray adhesive on both parts.

    The pro speaker box builders use MDF. The reason is that you do not want a box for speakers that resonates. A simple aluminum skin will act like a drum head, vibrating as the speakers move air in and out of the box. A solidly built MDF box will not resonate. Up to you entirely, but my advice is on the MDF as the core. You will definitely be happy with the resulting sound quality.
    I have a hammer! I can put things together! I can knock things apart! I can alter my environment at will and make an incredible din all the while! -Calvin

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