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This is a 1963 Sky Tourer car radio that I've converted into a handy portable retro gaming console. It has a Raspberry Pi 3 built-in, with 6 arcade buttons and a joystick controlling those vintage RetroPie sprites via a Picade controller board. The radio's original volume and tuning knobs are the perfect home for the Start and Select buttons, keeping them handy but out of mashing range. Lighting things up is a Pimoroni Blinkt LED strip, which illuminates the radio's semi-transparent dial with different colours, depending on the game console being emulated.

It's a self-contained game system, with a sturdy handle so you can carry it anywhere and play wherever there's an HDMI port! It even has an extra USB port round the back so that Player 2 can join in, or a keyboard can be connected.

In case you can't see the embedded video the full build is covered on YouTube at https://youtu.be/Ys04Nz6xxxg

Step 1: Tear-down & Concept

Picture of Tear-down & Concept
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I picked up this old Ever Ready radio at the car boot earlier this year for £4 - it caught my eye instantly as by its layout it was obviously a car radio, but it also had a speaker of its own underneath, behind a shiny grille. Turns out this was a new idea at the time - a radio that spent most of its time wired in to your car, but could be easily un-docked and used as a normal portable.

This really made me think - I'd been wanting to build a bartop arcade machine for a while, but didn't really have the space for a separate cabinet and already enjoyed playing Retropie on the 28" TV on my workbench. I decided to build the console into this radio, so it could be docked in front of the TV most of the time, but easily unplugged to be used in other rooms or to temporarily make space on the worktop.

As usual I was convinced there'd be acres of space inside for all of the modern parts, so I began by taking the radio apart, discarding most of the components but keeping the outer shell and control knobs. It's always fascinating to see how things were manufactured - the soldered joints and components in this case were all so large you can easily imagine tracing faults and repairing individual bits of the circuit yourself. This radio was already beyond repair however (and missing it's "car cage"), so I didn't feel too bad about ditching the old innards for the sake of giving it a new purpose.

With the circuits removed the radio split into two distinct halves, the base unit with its shiny speaker grille and front fascia and the red "lid", which was really just an easily removable battery cover. Before dismantling I was concerned the lid would be too flimsy, but it's actually pretty solid - any harder or thicker and I'd have struggled to drill accurate holes in it, which was the next job.

n4mwd24 days ago
Considering how easy it was to remove it from the car, I have to think that it was a favorite among car radio thieves. Good job repurposing it.
An interesting build and great looking result. Well done!
That's just beautiful!