Aurélien Gâteau

Bluetooth speaker - Part 1 - Introduction

written on Wednesday, December 25, 2019

This article is the first of a series on creating a Bluetooth speaker from an old vacuum tube radio and spare parts I had lying around in the house.

At the time I am writing this, the speaker is not done yet, so there is still a chance that I never finish it... As you will see, the journey so far as not been straight, I hit a few roadblocks and changed my mind while working on this project.

Let's start with the reason I started this project. When we moved in our house, more than a decade ago, I found this old vacuum tube radio left around by the previous owner:

  • The radio

I have always wanted to make something out of it, but never took the time to do so, until last month.

I initially wanted to restore the existing electronics but after a quick inspection of the internals, learning a lot about the necessary skills to achieve such a restoration and the dangers of working with vacuum tube radio, I decided I would only keep the beautiful wood case. I felt a bit bad about it, so I carefully removed all the parts I would not use and stored it in a box, in case I decide to revisit this later or to donate it to someone with the knowledge to bring this radio back to life. For this reason I am also going to try to avoid drilling any holes in the case, to keep it in its original state.


Here are some pictures of the disassembly:

  • Back side, without the back plate
  • The case and the electronics, side by side
  • The electronics
  • The front side, without any decoration, ready to sand
  • The empty inside

Note the three holes in the bottom of the case. I don't know if they were there originally, but I am going to make use of them to fix my home made chassis without drilling new holes.


Once I had a naked case, I sanded it, and used glue to repair some parts of the top which were going away:

  • The sanded case, with some weight on the top to hold the glue in place

Staining and varnishing

After one coat of staining and one coat of varnishing, it started to look nicer:

  • Varnished case

But then, while I was sanding again the case before applying a second coat of varnish, I noticed there were some varnish runs, so I sanded stronger in that area, but that removed the stain :(. Back to square one: sand again the varnish, stain again, apply a first coat of varnish being extra careful not to produce new runs, lightly sand and apply a second coat of varnish.

After these two coats it looked like this:

  • Varnished case, take 2

Looks good enough for now. I might apply a third coat, to make it shiner. We'll see.

That's it for this first article, continue to part 2.

This post was tagged bluetooth, diy and speaker