ChronoTune: listen to radio by year, not by frequency

The ChronoTune is a radio that plays sounds from different eras. This project was developed as an entry for the Redbull Creation Challenge by some members of i3Detroit, a hackerspace in the motor city. It allows a user to turn the dial to tune in a new moment in history, but they can also listen in on the present day. They’ll be greeted with the sounds of a tuning radio, followed by music or audio clips common to the period displayed on the dial.

As you know from the last contest entry, each project must use an Arduino to qualify. It reads a rotary encoder attached to one of the knobs on the front of the case. This doesn’t directly move the tuning needle. Instead, it’s attached to the guts of an inkjet printer to move it back and forth. This lets the radio tune itself if need be.

The audio is played from several sources. There is an MP3 module that allows for longer clips, but there are also some ISD voice recorder chip modules that play back shorter clips. If the dial is tuned to present day, an FM radio module tunes in a station over the air.

Having trouble reading that dial? Don’t worry, there’s a simulated Nixie tube display sticking out the top of the case to provide a digital readout of the currently selected time period. Check out the video after the break to see the team walk us through each part of the ChronoTune.

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