Old Tech Find – Orange Flirt

No, not a dig at the current US president, this was an unexpectedly awesome find at today’s car boot, a 1970 Flirt portable transistor radio in orange.

With the heavy rain last night there weren’t many stalls today, so to make the most of it we dug around in the many rummage boxes of the house clearance traders – I literally snatched this out and held on to it.

The colour and style grabbed me first, with that fantastic orange and squared-off dial it looks like the General Lee from the Dukes of Hazzard, but much smaller and with a speaker on top instead of the now-problematic confederate flag. Bundled with some old reel-to-reel tapes it cost me £2.

I do have a weakness for transistor radios, but I haven’t done a conversion since this one which – somehow – was over six  years ago. This one is now high on my list for a really simple rebuild – chop out the innards, bung in a Pi Zero, Speaker HAT and LiPo battery and we should have a cool portable internet radio for the bathroom. How hard could it be?


Weekend Gala

Fantastic weather for the car boot this weekend, I went with several things in mind and found the first one almost straightaway, a pocket transistor radio, £1.

Harvard’s not a huge brand but it’s a really nice little unit – no FM option so without an external aerial. I’ve been after something similar for a while, they have a great look and come apart easily (this one just clips closed). Not much to discover online about it, all I could really find were similar radios for sale, in a range of colours.

The plan is to build something small and functional in the case, as ever keeping true to the spirit of the original. I’m really enjoying playing with the Pimoroni Phat DAC and Phat Beat at the moment, small amplifier boards for the Pi. I think they’d fit really well – in fact the tuning dial on this radio is ideally placed to display the LED VU meter on Phat Beat.

So far I know I want it to play audio – I’m leaning towards making it an internet radio with presets for my favourite stations, or maybe a podcast player or airplay speaker. To stay true to the original it should really be portable as well, but adding in power to the case may make fitting everything in a bit tight. A voice assistant would be another option, but I’m pretty tied to a Pi Zero with the size and they run best on a full size board.