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Picture of Alexa Enabled Console Radio With Sound Activated LEDs

Have an old radio sitting around as a piece of "decor" because it no longer works? I do. Or did.

With the help of a few low cost components and some planning, this 1947 Montgomery Ward Airline console became a modern Alexa enabled device, with sound activated LEDs!

After over 70 years of use, neglect and storage, this radio has gone from AM/Shortwave to whatever Amazon Alexa/Echo based content your heart desires!

It's a super simple project that anyone can do with only a few tools and materials. With a little creativity and elbow grease, anyone can turn a neglected box into a beautiful piece of functional decor.

Step 1: Parts, Tools, Etc.

For this project, I'll use items that could be deemed trash, as well as repurposing others. In addition, we'll need some supporting cast to pull everything off.

The heart of the project is, of course, the antique console radio. This one came with my first home, and has seen better days. Yours may be in better or worse shape, size, etc. You made need to refinish and repair part of the radio (like I did), etc. But the electronic "brains" will be the same regardless of what you stick them in.


Tools & Consumables:

usna984 months ago
Great instructable. It just so happened that I was looking for something like this to transform an old drive in movie theater speaker I got off Ebay. I put the speaker and an Echo Input (smaller form factor) in the speaker housing and the lights and board in the Glo top speaker mount. Thanks!
usna98 usna984 months ago
So this worked great, but it seems like the LEDs are getting constant, albeit reduced, voltage (i.e. enough to light them dimly) even when the Echo is not producing sound. Not sure if it's because I'm using an Echo Input instead of the Dot. Did you experience this?
BrokenAntlerWorkshop (author)  usna982 months ago
I need to see your project, for sure!

I did have that problem, as well. I think it has to do with noise present somewhere in the design. I noticed it would come on when the echo was starting up, and dropped to a very dim amount once it was. It didn't affect my final product, because it has the two LEDs sidelighting the display as it is, so the minimal light from the LEDs in standby aren't noticable. Let me know if you figure out a workaround.
I love it imagine someones face when you play beautiful sounding music without getting up from your chair when it looks like all that you have is an antique radio
halciber4 months ago
Excellent instructable and a terrific repurposing of old, but wonderful radio consoles. I want to go find an old radio now just to do this project.
BrokenAntlerWorkshop (author)  halciber4 months ago
Thank you! If you do, please share the results!
querry434 months ago
I love the age this thing has.
BeardAndBot4 months ago
Great reuse for a beautiful old radio!