July 13, 2010 AT 12:00 am

Fab Radio

Fab radio… Final Project – David A. Mellis – MAS.863: How to Make (Almost) Anything

This radio, created in collaboration with Dana Gordon, is an experiment in the fabrication of consumer electronic products. The frame is made of press-fit, laser-cut plywood and covered with thin front and back face-plates. Any found material can be used for the fabric, which covers the top of the radio and the speaker. Here, we’ve used a souvenir from a trip to India. The electronics, including knobs and power jack, are mounted on a single circuit board at the base of the radio. The whole product is designed to be easily and quickly assembled from fabricated components.

There are numerous examples of individuals producing circuit boards or electronic kits in quantities of hundreds or thousands, but few target a general audience. By carefully designing the appearance and construction of the radio’s case as well as its electronics, we have arrived at a consumer product that can be manufactured in similar quantities. With access to a laser cutter, an individual could manufacture and sell this radio on a scale sufficient to provide significant income. We hope that this example will help inspire the creation of fabrication-based, consumer electronics small businesses.

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1 Comment

  1. This wonderful project reminds me sadly of the bullsh*t that is “HD Radio” in the USA. A system that was once easy to understand and build has become complicated and requires license fees to both encode and decode. For hobbyists, I hope that “HD Radio” receiver modules are some day available from suppliers like SparkFun, but it really irks me that such a scenario would further line iBiquity’s pockets. Ideally, some software-defined radio hackers will see fit to flaunt the DMCA and release code so that receiving broadcasts becomes libre again.

    Of course the digital signal is not evil in itself (processing power is cheap now), but to lock its decoding away behind patents and license agreements removes a fundamental freedom that radio hackers once enjoyed. Though advantageous in ways, one gets nostalgic for the elegance of analog-only solutions like the following one-transistor super-regenerative FM receiver:


    Please excuse the unfocused and only quasi-related nature of this mini-rant.

    The module that Mr. Mellis used is:

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