Music Technology

Radio hacker and swing dancer Greg Charvat is at it again with his latest restoration, the Retro Boom Box. His local swing group was in need of a portable radio to use for impromptu Lindy Hopping, so he outfitted a 1940’s radio with modern batteries that they could use while on the run. Here’s what he has to say about it:

I hang out with swing dancers. We like to lindy bomb, where we dress up in vintage clothing and show up somewhere where there is no dancing with a boom box. We start playing an old song from the 30’s and start dancing. It can be kind of obnoxious but it is very festive. This has occurred in subway stations, at furniture stores, art festivals, and etc.

Our team was using a ‘boom box’ from the late 90’s, so i decided to upgrade to something more in the time-frame of our clothing. I found a 1946 battery powered (and AC) portable tube radio, the Olympic model 6-606. Unfortunately this radio is AM only and it requires type A filament and type B high-voltage plate batteries that are no longer available, and of course like all antique radios it needed restoration.

I restored the radio to original specifications. Then i hacked into it’s audio circuitry to create an ipod connection. There is a small toggle switch on the back so that you can select the audio source as either the AM radio or an ipod. From there i built a replacement battery pack to replace the type A and B batteries. This battery pack requires 16 batteries (costing over $30), 10 9V’s and 6 C batteries to power the radio for a reasonable amount of time.