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Old 24th Feb 2013, 23:36   #1
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Join Date: Feb 2013
Location: Shetland Islands
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Valve Radio Conversion: Thermionic Logic - 26/01/14

Hi everyone, I am currently building my first custom case (in fact my first mod of any type) and would like to share the experience with you all. I have built numerous PC's over the years for myself and others but these have been purely standard installations in stock cases. It is time to change that trend.

Having been drawn to steampunk art, the synergy between old and new technology captured my imagination, albeit without the fantasy element often present in steampunk designs. My idea is to modify a vintage valve radio cabinet as a case for my new PC build.

I will admit I'm a little nervous presenting my humble project amongst the works of art being crafted by many of the forum users here but you have to start somewhere after all!

Anyway, enough rambling and on to the project log...

The donor radio - Was lucky enough to find a local guy with a 1939 Murphy D72 valve radio for sale cheap and on inspection it looked in reasonable condition and pretty much the exact size I was looking for.

First job was to strip everything down and refinish the walnut veneer exterior.

Original speaker cloth was shot so got hold of some reproduction Fender cloth. Glued it onto the mount ready for installation.

Plan is to use a single fan to draw cool air from in front of the case through the speaker hole and vent it via a couple of smaller fans at the rear.

Projects are never without problems. The alloy of the speaker bezel had deteriorated so much that the bezel disintegrated upon removal leaving me with a serious headache. Being over 70 years old it was impossible to get a replacement part so a new one would have to be fabricated. I explored a number of ideas including aluminium fabrication and 3D printing but it was going to be prohibitively expensive (as a married father of two such expense can't be justified). Eventually I found a second hand router going cheap so made my own by means of a homemade circle jig and a lot of patience!

New bezel painted alongside tuning dial bezel.

Removed the old 6v light bar from the tuning dial and replaced it with a warm white LED strip (which I forgot to take a photo of... duh)!

Initial thought was to convert two of the control knobs into bespoke USB memory sticks with the ports hidden behind them although I'm now toying with the idea of fan controllers instead.

I always envisioned having rotary power and reset switches to retain the feel of the original radio. Rotary momentary switches however have proved extraordinarily difficult to source. Eventually I found these rotary limit switches which, although rather large, could be modified to work nicely.

My first PC was based on an AMD K6-2 350 CPU and being the sort of person that sticks with companies as long as they serve me well I have used AMD ever since. I snapped up a FX8350 Black Edition that I found on discount but that decision has caused me more headaches (will teach me to do a little more research in future). With space inside the case rather tight a micro ATX motherboard is essential. No problem I foolishly thought.... wrong! There are a sum total of ZERO uATX boards on the market with the most recent 990 chipset. Beggars can't be choosers however so I had to plump for an Asus M5A78L-M/USB3 in the end.

Now having a small shed to work in can be difficult at times so when I saw the sun out and clear skies this morning I decided it was a great day to make up a bench outside and get the MDF cut for the internal compartment.

So here we are. Just waiting for a few small pieces for the exterior then I can start putting the internal structure together in anticipation for component installation.

Thank you for your interest.


Last edited by Boorach; 28th Jan 2014 at 21:59.
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