Card Radio: recyclable, aptly named


December 13, 2011

The Card Radio, designed by Chris McNicholl

The Card Radio, designed by Chris McNicholl

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Card Radio was conceived as an environmentally friendly piece of consumer electronics, presumably with the mass market in mind. Its entire housing is made from recyclable, though not recycled, cardboard. Despite its low cost and eco-credentials, Card Radio aims not to sacrifice elegance, harkening back to the 1960s aesthetic that designer Chris McNicholl claims as its influence.

It's really worth reiterating that, aside from the electronic components essential to its functioning as a radio, Card Radio really is made of nothing else. It's assembled (or folded) by the user without need of glue, making the product easy to disassemble, which in turn increases the likelihood that it actually will be recycled.

The Card Radio (conceived by McNicholl under the name Environmentally Sound - get it?) takes four AA batteries and includes a DC adaptor port, though the adaptor itself does not come included (needless to say: check the manufacturer's spec before connecting one). A surprising but welcome touch is the inclusion of an audio input and cable - a makeshift emergency speaker for a phone or MP3 player.

The radio weighs in at nine tenths of a pound (0.416 kg), the bulk of which is accounted for by the electronics inside, and a single unit's compact paper and cellophane packaging weighs a mere 32 grams (0.07 lb), so the environmental cost of its shipment has been kept down.

If there's an obvious question mark it is over durability. It's probably even more essential that this stays dry than the rest of your electronic gadgetry (damp cardboard doesn't smell good, to begin with). A nice touch would be to be able to buy replacement housings for when one's cardboard shell gets a little worse for wear. It would be better still if the manufacturers went the whole nine hogs and incorporated recycled cardboard - perhaps for Card Radio 2.0. In the meantime, if you've snapped one of these up, let us know how it sounds.

Card Radio is available from suck UK for GBP25 (US$39). You can read a little more about the project's background on Chris McNicholl's website.

About the Author
James Holloway James lives in East London where he punctuates endless tea drinking with freelance writing and meteorological angst. Unlocking Every Extend Extra Extreme’s “Master of Extreme” achievement was the fourth proudest moment of his life. All articles by James Holloway

Plastics, especially types 1 and 2 HDPE, are more easily curbside-recyclable than cardboard or paper in most communities. The greater advantage of cardboard or heavy paper stock is that they can be more easily shredded and thus become more biodegradable in landfills. Cheap plastic radios simply need to be more easily disassembled (for example, by being held together with screws, which could also be plastic) to be recycled.

William Lanteigne

To make it a semi permanent device, soak the cardboard in some kind or lacquer, like shellac or urethane etc.

Or just make a case out of plywood...

Also covered speakers tend to seriously muffle audio - free air, free standing speakers work well on minimal power devices, especially for voice audio.

I have made a number of kits similar to these....

Very enjoyable.

Mr Stiffy
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