Mary Tsai
UX Designer | Maker

Experimental Form Radio


Experimental Form Radio

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TEam: individual project

class: experimental form

duration: spring 2017 - 3 weeks


Create a radio that is controlled through unique interactions and form. I created a maple and walnut wood radio that utilizes hematite magnetic metal balls via Arduino programming.


I was initially inspired by the planetary orbitals but eventually started looking at the horizon line and how the sun and moon sit in relationship to the earth. I did a few sketches and then moved towards painting in order to exaggerate the quick strokes and lineweights that brushes produce.


Once I figured out the final form, I had help from Jesse Klein in programming the Arduino I had purchased. I hooked up the Arduino to the reed switches and load cell using a plastic breadboard before soldering everything together.

I tested the power of the hematite magnetic balls to make sure it could penetrate the maple hardwood top of the radio. I also had to make sure that the walnut base could fit everything needed, which would include all the arduino boards, speakers, and wires.


I first created the walnut base in order to contain all the hardware. I laser cut a speaker grill in each of the sides before gluing everything together except for the bottom piece, which was connected via magnets so it could be removable.

Initial plans for the final design

Initial plans for the final design

Printing a test template to laser cut the speaker grills.

Printing a test template to laser cut the speaker grills.

I glued together the walnut sides before embedding small magnets in the bottom. I then oiled the wood before starting on the top maple piece. I laser cut the side pieces out of acrylic in order to shape the wood before sanding down the curved profiles. I also utilized the CNC machine to create the top holes where the hematite ball would sit.


I had to wire everything and ensure that all the hardware would fit together. After finishing the radio, I presented in an open discussion presentation of my work for the Experimental Form class.