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Scratch Build – Complete Crosley D-25

Discussion in 'Project Logs' started by DPete27, 10 Jul 2019.

  1. DPete27

    DPete27 New Member

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    I feel very humbled among this group. It seems like everyone here is being sponsored in some way or another. Unfortunately I have none of that, but I feel I've done something worth seeing. Hope you enjoy.

    A little background: my HTPC started as an old single core AMD Socket 939 system that was given to me. It was an ATX mobo, PSU, GPU, and hdd and I wanted to fit it into a much smaller space, so I ended up constructing a wood case (14.5"H x 5.5"W x 9.5"D) shown below in 2011 to match my entertainment center. That was my first real attempt at doing any custom case work. I was going for something that blended with the wood of the entertainment center, but really showed off the components and was easy to access.
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    Needless to say, the original system was retired pretty quickly and replaced with an A8-5600K, MSI FM2-A75IA-E53, 4TB SSHD, 250GB SSD, 2x4GB DDR3-1866 system. Being mITX, it obviously drowned inside the original case, and that has been a thorn in my side for quite a few years since. We recently got a new [white] entertainment center, so taking away the case's only saving grace of being a chameleon, I had to do something different. I obviously started by looking at "traditional" cases, but I just couldn't shake the desire to have something that also added a decorative element to the living room. I thought about the old staples of NES or PS1 case mods, but that's been done a thousand times. Then I thought about things that might already be in a living room and came up with the idea of a radio. While doing some research, I immediately fell in love with the look of the Crosley D-25 (circa early 1950s). The problem was, fully restored ones are terribly expensive (~$350) and wood radios aren't any cheaper. Plus, I really didn't want to "destroy" a beautiful piece of American history. After months of searching, I finally found a Crosley D-25 that wasn't absolute trash, but also wasn't restored/working, so I pulled the trigger, and here's what I got:
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    The first thing was to strip all the insides out and clean the things I wanted to re-use. I wanted to retain all the original functionality of the radio: clock, tuner dial, and volume.
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    As you can see in the above pictures, the metal was pretty heavily pitted and tarnished. I got some metal polish and tested it (zero inconspicuous locations) and it seemed to work fine, so I went to work. Unfortunately, once I got to a spot that had faded, I found out the metal is actually plated, and the plating came off, exposing the shiny silver color underneath.....I decided there was nothing to do but continue removing all the gold plating. I'd thought about taking the metal somewhere to be re-plated, but decided that the silver color was more modern and fit the room decor better. Besides, I can always take it in to be re-plated if I change my mind in the future. The polishing took an ETERNITY. It was all done with a sock and metal polish because I was afraid a chemical bath would strip the white paint off the numbering. In the end, the metal still shows minor signs of pitting, but it shined up very nicely. I don't mind the pitting, it gives it character, this is a 65 year old radio after all.

    The case was polished with car buffing compound. The paint(?) on the case was very good still, no scratches down to the black/brown bakelite or chips. The finish was a bit dull, but didn't take much with the buffing compound to restore it to a good luster. The front emblem was tarnished brown and had to be sanded with 400 grit sandpaper.
     
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  2. P43YM

    P43YM Member

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    Love it, dude! Will follow you work! And no RGB, please :) but dim amber light would be nice, i think.
     
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  3. DPete27

    DPete27 New Member

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    Update:
    The clock was an AC unit, gear driven, and took up far to much space inside. This seemed like an easy fix. I got a continuous sweep motor (doesn't tick) to match the original. Problem was, the shaft diameter doesn't match today's standards, so the original hands couldn't be re-used. I also couldn't find any hands that were as short as the originals. So I had to cut some down to size. Also the shaft length of the new motor (shortest I could find) was still longer than the original, so the second hand stood out too far and hit the cover (it looks glass, but it's plastic). I had to take the second hand to a jeweler to have the shaft modified because I didn't have tools small enough. Unfortunately, the hands were gold plated also. There was no way I was going to be able to physically polish off the plating like I did on the other pieces, so I turned to paint stripper. 5 days later, silver hands!
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    Then I had to figure out how to cram a computer into an enclosure that only measures 7"H x 13"W x 6"D.....minus the original frame that held the tuner mechanism in place. Many hours of planning later, I decided that, although I could fit the components inside the original envelope of the case, I wanted the motherboard to protrude out the back a bit so I could add a dual slot graphics card at a later date if desired. I then had to fabricate a motherboard tray. First a template was made with folded/cut paper to visualize the form required. This also allowed me to unfold the paper when I was done and use it as a cutting template for the metal. Then I bent [~22-26Ga] sheet metal to match the template. The edges were folded for added strength and to eliminate sharp edges. The motherboard tray was connected to the original frame and protrudes 2.25" out the back of the case to house the 4TB hdd (mounted on rubber grommets) and a 250GB SSD. Completely coincidence that the clearance between the two was 1/8" or less.
    I had to buy a Silverstone 300W SFX power supply to fit the remaining space because the TFX unit I was initially planning on using didn't fit. This model was chosen because of its semi-passive fan operation. The panel mount for the PSU was fabricated similar to the mobo tray using a paper template. The triangular bend at the bottom was...a challenge, but it nicely hides the cables from the hdd and SSD. It does fold back under, parallel to the bottom of the case so the cables don't spill out the bottom. It took me about 10 hours to fabricate EACH of the two metal pieces.
    I even mounted a USB3.0 port to the side of the case! This hole was originally an auxiliary 2-prong AC output.
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  4. kim

    kim hardware addict

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    :clap:Great project, I realy like the way you're modding this beautiful vintage object, it please me a lot to see this kind of re-purposing in PC-modding, all what you've done as of now is perfectly thought and done :thumb:, I am following :rock:
     
  5. Dot_Kappa

    Dot_Kappa 100% Puppet

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    Why did you choose to make only a partial protusion instead of stretching out the whole rear section?
     
  6. DPete27

    DPete27 New Member

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    I actually would've preferred not to extend out the back at all. It seems like a cop-out to break out of the "envelope". I can get the mobo within the limits of the radio if I slant it at an angle. However, that would pinch off the cables a bit coming from the rear IO. It also would restrict access to the clock adjustment dial and battery without having to disassemble the insides. And of course, the dGPU wouldn't be a possibility anymore. Those are the reasons I decided to partially "cheat". I wanted/needed it to be functional for my needs first and foremost. If this were a showpiece, I would've gone a different route.

    Second limitation was that I've saved all the original bits that came out of the radio so that [in the rare event] it could be rebuilt to function as the original. That meant only minimally modifying that large metal frame inside (a few holes for mounting points). If it weren't for this self-inflicted limitation, I would've had a much easier time fitting the computer inside in a more cleanly layout.
     
  7. DPete27

    DPete27 New Member

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    Clock Lighting Update:
    There's a single hole at 6:00 on the clock face plates that is also exposed from the case flanges, so that made my lighting decision easy. I bought a "warm" white 5mm LED (still a little higher color temp than I wanted, but this was the best I could manage without going RGB) and soldered it to a cable connected to the PWRLED header on the mobo. Unfortunately, the opening in the bottom of the clock assembly was 2.75mm thick by 5mm wide. I was able to file both sides of the LED down to the correct shape, even though the required thickness brought the edges of the flat sides dangerously close to the cone/filament of the LED. By leaving the LED just a bit thicker than needed, the clock plates clamped the LED in place when I tightened everything down. The clock isn't lit as well as I wanted, which is mostly due to the limited clearance between the clock plates (approx 1.5mm) where the light can shine. Although the clock isn't well-lit, it does look period-correct, so I'm happy with that. In case you're wondering, the felt pad is to seal the hole in the clock plate where the sleep timer dial shaft was to prevent light from escaping into the case. I'm going to try it out with a single LED for a bit and see if I can live with it. Otherwise I may add LEDs at 3:00 and 9:00. I still want to keep the bottom-up lighting since I'm modeling this after an OLD 1960-70 flip-style alarm clock that my grandmother [still] has.

    Sorry for the shoddy picture, this was my first experience taking pictures in our pitch-black basement with only a single 5mm LED and the backlight bleed of the LCD screen on my camera as light sources. >1 second shutter times aren't easy when you don't have a tripod. The picture below is the most accurate representation of what my eyes saw, except the clock hands were more visible than the picture shows.
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    Last edited by a moderator: 28 Jul 2019
  8. DPete27

    DPete27 New Member

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    Power Switch:
    I've combed the internet off and on since this build started for a suitable power switch. This was the driving reason why this project took so long to put the finishing touches on, and I was dead-set on finding EXACTLY what I envisioned. In the end, the requirements - rotary, momentary, non-shorting, spring-return with a 0.25" x 1.25" flatted shaft left me with only one option. The $55 Electroswitch E3G0603N-2 was more expensive than I really wanted to spend on this one part, but it ticked all the right boxes...with some exceptions:
    -The shaft was too long and not flatted to fit the radio knob. A hacksaw, wheel grinder, and file fixed those issues.
    -The switch came with two "sections" (contact disks) which allow you to wire up 6 circuits to be controlled by the rotation of the shaft. The disks stuck up about 3/16" too far above the shaft which contacted the radio frame and prevented the switch from being mounted properly, so I removed one of the disks (didn't need it) and cut the top off the other.
    -The stock return spring was a bit stiff, so I got a replacement at the hardware store. They didn't have a replacement spring that was the correct length, so I got to learn how to shorten a spring that's about the size of a pencil eraser (Butane lighter and a precision needle-nosed pliers). The spring is shown next to the filed-down LED I used to light the clock for size comparison.
    -Finally, the 3/8" hole in the radio frame for mounting the switch is elongated for reasons I can't fathom. The original component in this hole was a potentiometer for the volume adjustment which had very little rotational resistance, but the added torque from the spring-return power switch made it difficult to keep in place. I fashioned the horseshoe-shaped plate pictured below (shown from inside the radio frame) with a round hole so the switch position wasn't solely reliant on the tightness of the thin mounting nut (and the "finger" below it which was also smaller than the hole in the frame. The cutout you see above the plate is to clear the spring lever when the switch is operated. Unfortunately one of the few additional holes that needed to be added in the radio frame.

    The computer turns on with a clockwise rotation of the power knob, and counter-clockwise functions as the reset button. When you let go of the knob, it springs back to "neutral" so you get the "momentary" connection that PCs expect.
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  9. DPete27

    DPete27 New Member

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    Let's wrap this thing up.
    Finished product:
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    In summary:
    • Clock works (continuous sweep) and is lit via LED connected to "power" header of mobo
    • Power knob is bottom left. Quarter turn clockwise = on. Counterclockwise = reset. Spring return to neutral position
    • Tuner dial operates per original by turning the bottom right knob
    • Case holds mITX mobo, SFX PSU, 2.5" SSD, 3.5" HDD, and has room for a dual slot [mITX] GPU
    Had a lot of fun. I have many other re-purposing ideas for future builds when I find someone interested.
     
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  10. Cheapskate

    Cheapskate Insane? or just stupid?

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    It came out looking like a radio, which is perfect. :D
     

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