Internet Radio Player Wins Propeller Design Contest

It’s got a NIC, a remote, a character display, and can record and play back streaming audio. Thumper is [Harrison Pham’s] contest-winning Internet radio player.His finished board is roughly the same size as the 16×2 character display and piggy-backs the device for a small form-factor. It can be controlled via an infrared remote control, or through a remote web interface. Source files are available from the link at the top, but the really juicy details are included in the shockingly comprehensive PDF writeup.

The photo above is a bit misleading. The board has a micro SD slot on the back even though a USB card reader is shown. This project would need USB host control for Propeller chips in order to use that reader. Don’t forget to check out some of the other submissions to the the contest once you’ve had your fill of this one.

[Thanks Drone]

33 thoughts on “Internet Radio Player Wins Propeller Design Contest

  1. I think the judges are rigged. This is in no way more impressive than the third-place winner who wrote Sphinx; a SPIN language compiler that runs on the propeller chip and can even compile itself. Clearly that’s not as impressive as an internet music player….


  2. @M4CGYV3R: from your comments alone, I agree 100%. However, after looking at the top 3 submissions I can agree with the judges’ decisions.

    The thumper project took a lot of development – both hardware and software. It comes complete with 94 pages (!) of reasonably-dense documentation. Compare this with the 7 sparse pages on Sphinx. Within those 7 pages there is nothing to show how much time and effort the submitter put in to the project. I’m not even going to speculate how much effort did go in, but the full report doesn’t show much for it.

  3. @M4CGYV3R

    So one contestant makes a device that has a basic OS, connects to the internet, decodes digital music from the internet connection does D/A conversion and outputs it. Also it accepts input from a remote control. Another contestant wrote a program. To me, your logic is quite flawed. One contestant made a device, another contestant wrote a program. In a contest where the idea is to create a device I don’t see how writing just code is better than making a device

  4. Author of Sphinx here and very happy to come in 3rd. I didn’t think a pure software project would do well in the contest, so I was pleasantly surprised. As for my sparse report, maybe I should have included source listings…
    Kudos to Harrison (and Ryan, 2nd place).

  5. I don’t think the photo is misleading. I’d assume he’s showing the usb card reader because that’s what he’s connecting to his computer to copy file to/from the micro SD.. Before placing the micro SD card back into the radio device.

  6. I meant to add to my last comment. If you could buy this ready made for cheap, it would fly off the shelves.. I’d buy one. But I’m guessing when it goes to market it will be bumped up to 50-100 USD. Anyone think they’ll be going cheap ?

  7. I’ve got a ton of propeller projects tossed down as it looks simple to hook up the various things and add some of your own to get a new device for <$100 after the prototype stages.

  8. According to the documentation, he figured $75-$100 if you could get your PCB for less than $25 (ha!). Looking at Amazon, roughly comparable devices go for 89-300. Of course, a good part of this project was the tweaked TCP/IP stack for fast reconnect. You’d have to do a side by side test to find out which was actually better. And if you could salvage the LCD that would probably drop the cost a reasonable amount.

  9. @John: These boards are small 2-layer boards. If you go to Gold Phoenix, you could have 32 of them made for $100, or just over $3 each.

    Anyone in for a group buy? ;)

  10. @jeff-o: I was thinking the same thing.

    Anyone else notice the words “credit card” and “outstanding balance” in the background of some of his pictures in the PDF?

    hehe – bet THAT’ll drive some folks to go read it ;)

  11. Very interesting project.

    What I don’t understand is why he choosed a wired ethernet. WiFi seems much more appropriate for an internet “radio” ;)

    And also much more practical, if you don’t have a wired connection near your HiFi.

    I hope somebody starts selling kits and/or just PCBs soon!

  12. Adding wifi would have complicated things greatly. The cost, size and complexity would have been increased. There is no “drop in” solution for wifi like there is for a plain ethernet jack.

  13. @jeff-o

    I’m in for a group buy! This is really impressive. I’ve never experimented with propeller (or many microcontrollers/processors) for that matter. Excellent report. ShoutCast rocks by the way- it’s opened me up to so much good music.

  14. @jeff-o

    I’m totally in if you do a group buy. I was looking for a relatively cheap way to do internet radio – and a solution that I can build myself is even better!

  15. its a really cool project, but actually the writeup is 21 pages, the rest is the appendi with the code.

    mike maybee it would help if you tried to think a little bit more before posting

  16. I’ve just read up a bit more on this.
    “This project was only possible thanks to the Propeller’s powerful multiple core architecture. Conventional microcontrollers do not have the required computational power to perform the multiple tasks required to implement Thumper’s feature set.”
    What is this bullshit. I’ve done more than this on an old tired ATmega128 years ago. With Wi-Fi even.

    Even with the “powerful multicore architecture”, he had to resort to decoding the MP3 in a VS10xx.
    And where is that real-time MP3 encoding they yap about in the abstract?
    It’s not mentioned in the PDF at all.

    Now, if that was done in the propeller while it’s doing the other stuff, I’ll take back my comment.
    Otherwise this is just lame in coma.

  17. jeff-o: if I could really put one together for <$75 in parts, I would be interested. I would take at least 5 boards, maybe more.

    I just ran across this a few days ago, seems like a good idea. And I have an idea for a different project, that requires ethernet port and LCD display, perhaps this is the cheapest way of doing that, too. (I was looking at arduino+ethernet shield, that route seems to be in the ballpark for $60+ too.

    I was going to send a message to Pham, and ask if he is organizing a kit, too.

  18. I’m not sure if I can organize a group buy for these boards after all. I took a look at the files provided on the contest site, and there is no actual CAD data for the board (Eagle or plain gerbers). Maybe he’d be willing to supply those files, but I haven’t bothered asking yet.

  19. jeff-o: I sent him an email asking if someone was doing kits, just an hour ago. Will see what he has to say.

    I’ve never done a board project before. I gather that you produce a gerber file, send it to batchpcb or Gold Phoenix and they do a small run of 32 boards for $100? I’ll have to check with my CFO (wife!), but could perhaps finance 1/3 of that.

    Would this board be for surface mount components? Aren’t those very difficult to solder?

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