Student spends lockdown restoring vintage radios

Radio has been undergoing a boom during lockdown as more people tune in than ever before to their favourite shows.

But for Oadby teenager Diogo Martins, it is the mechanics and workings of the radio devices themselves which holds an enduring appeal.


The Electrical Engineering student has a love of vintage radios and has dozens in his collection, some of which are more than 100 years old.

He documents their repairs through his Instagram account which has attracted followers from all over the world as well as closer to home, thanks to an appearance on BBC Radio Leicester.

“I think the radio is making a comeback because people are tired of everything being online all the time,” said Diogo, 19, who has just finished his first year at DMU. “If you look at the rise of vinyl, people going back to film photography, I think it is because we love something tangible. People like the rituals of it and I think it has more charm.”


Diogo and his radio collection was featured on BBC News Online and he was interviewed by BBC Radio Leicester about his hobby. As a result, he was contacted by a former radio engineer from Loughborough. The man who was in his 90s, gifted Diogo some of his radio collection including some very rare models.

Diogo said: “I am eternally grateful to him. Some of his collection was also donated to the national wireless museum, so to be entrusted with them was incredible.”

Diogo first became interested in radios while studying for his A-levels, learning about radio circuits and then building his own. His workshop is in the garage where he works on the radios, taking them apart and fixing them. He’s even used DMU Library for some research on the oldest models which have diodes and valves.

“As soon as I came to uni, I found a collection of books on old radios in Kimberlin Library that taught me how the valves worked and I was able to use that to repair a lot of the older models that I had, so I was delighted.”

He said that in his first year, he had enjoyed life on campus and making new friends. And since the campus closed and learning moved online, he’s found support online from classmates but also his lecturers.

He was full of praise for Richard Snape, senior lecturer in engineering science and mathematics. “He’s always been there for us, whenever we have needed help with our course work or to give any feedback. I’d really like to thank him.”

Before he prepares for the start of his second term, Diogo has more radios to repair and restore to their former glory. “I have radios 100 years old and they still play,” he said. “It’s a living history, really. You think of how they were once the focal point of the home and how people used to gather round them to listen. I love the story of radio.”

Posted on Friday 10 July 2020

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