My final project involved design and building a car radio. I did this because I wanted a radio with modern features that did not look out of place in a vintage dashboard. Looking through my design notebook it can be observed that my radio design has evolved a bit, but not by much. This is partially due to my use of a 16 by 2 character LCD display. The display itself does not take up a huge amount of real estate, but it is mounted on a breakout board, which expands its dimensions by about 7mm in any direction. The area the breakout board limits the radio faceplate real estate that could otherwise be used for buttons. I choose to position the LCD off to one side and group all my buttons on the other side. A comment on my design review presentation suggested using a different display that would fit better in a 1970s theme. However, nothing comes to mind. My senior design project had metal pushbuttons and I liked their look and tactile feel, so the ones used in my radio are similar.
The project took much longer than I thought it would, largely because I underestimated the electronics involved and had to learn a lot of new things.
I think that my product achieves my goal. It certainly does not look like a factory radio, or even an aftermarket radio of the era. My goal was not to make a radio that looks like it came with the car originally, but to make a radio that does not look particularly out of place in the old dashboard and I think I have successfully done this.
If I make a second version I would like to make the sheet metal face pieces more precise, or perhaps make them out of acrylic and bond them together. I also would make a PCB for the electronics, rather than having to solder all of the wires and components in place and having to mount many components in the case.