Homebrew Zenith Collection

What to do when you have repairable Zenith transistor radios with totally worn, dog-eared, and crumbling cases? Well, I decided to rebuild these radios using the construction techniques found in 1954 prototype radios. You can see wonderful pictures of a Texas Instruments prototype in the Smithsonian Collection.

Here is my home-brew Zenith Royal 710 radio. It is built in a screwed together 1/4" Plexiglas case. Also, radio chassis is a 1/8" Plexiglas piece. It is built using the point-to-point wiring technique. I looked through several old parts sets to find working vintage electrolytic capacitors. The only materials used in building this set that would not have been available in 1954-55 were several pieces of heat-shrink tubing used on battery compartment wiring.

Another home-brew Zenith is a Royal 675. It is built using point-to-point wiring on a 1/8" Plexiglas chassis. The enclosure is a prefab unit sold by Jameco Electronics. To fit the original 4" speaker in this small cabinet was a real challenge.

This little radio required quite a bit of sub-chassis and metal fabrication in order for the volume and tuning knobs to line up properly. Also, the battery holder is from a Royal 200; there was no way to use the original "C" cell holder in this small enclosure. The radio plays just like the original.

Here are pictures of my first home-brew Zenith radio. This radio is a mixture Royal 200 and Royal 275 radio parts from the parts boxes. The case is made from screwed together 1/4" Plexiglas panels. It has two separate 1/8" chassis-one for the R.F.circuit and the other for the audio circuit. All original parts, except for some modern, heat-shrink tubing.

Front view of the Royal 200/275 Hybrid

Rear view of the Royal 200/275 Hybrid

Close-up of the RF circuit board

Close-up of the audio circuit board

These were three fun projects using damaged Zenith radios. I just couldn't bring myself to part them out.


This is probably the most interesting radio in my collection. It surely isn't a Zenith. A friend brought me this radio from South Africa. It was made by a street vendor who scrounged parts and made an enclosure from wire. You can see a map of Africa on the front, along with part of a Coke can used as ornamentation. The radio plays. In the back picture, you can see that part of a plastic garbage bag is used as the antenna insulator, keeping it away from the wire cabinet. This radio reflects one unknown person's true entrepreneurial spirit.