This is How the Fonz Would Play MP3s

Here at Hackaday, we love to see old hardware treated with respect. A lovingly restored radio or TV that’s part of our electronic heritage is a joy to behold, and while we understand the desire to stream media from a funky retro case, it really grates when someone throws away the original guts to make room for new electronics.

Luckily, this Seeburg jukebox wall remote repurposing is not one of those projects. [Scott M. Baker] seems to have an appreciation for the finer things, and when he scored this classic piece of Mid-Century Americana, he knew just what to do. These remotes were situated around diners and other hangouts in the 50s and 60s and allowed patrons to cue up some music without ever leaving their seats. They were real money makers back in the day, and companies put a lot of effort into making them robust and reliable.

[Scott]’s first video below shows the teardown of this unit; you can practically smell the old transformer and motor windings. His goal in the second video was to use the remote to control his Raspberry Pi jukebox; he wisely decided to leave everything intact and use the original electromechanically generated pulses to make selections. His analysis led to a nicely executed shield for his Pi which conditions the pulses and imitates coin drops; happily, the coin mechanism still works too, so you can still drop a quarter for a tune.

The remote is working well now, but [Scott] still needs to finish up a few odds and ends to bring this one home. But we love the look and the respect for tradition here, as we did when this juke got a Raspberry Pi upgrade to imitate a missing wall remote.

9 thoughts on “This is How the Fonz Would Play MP3s

  1. Nicely done, so many bits of irreplaceable get destroyed by people gutting them to put a raspberry Pi inside. I wish more people would put this amount of thought and effort into fitting upgrades to old gear.

    1. Given the cost of a decent one, I would not make sense to gut it for a “nice enclosure”. Heck, I hate doing that to old clock radios, and you can get these for almost fee.

    2. That only goes to ‘K’ on the alpha keys where the article unit goes to ‘V’ is so there’s 100 song 200 song units, the price difference for units with a higher selection ?, I was expecting binary on the pulse for some idiotic reason.

  2. I’m totally impressed by the hardware/software execution, the videos and his explanation on his website. My (former) girlfriend has a CD jukebox in the form of the old Wurlitzer style that I meant to repair and update with internet/MP3 access. Wish I’d gotten around to it.

  3. Awesome project. I wish i had the possibility to get stuff like that for reasonable prices. Even if someone donated one to me, it’d cost me something like $200 to ship it where i live, although for that money i could ship about a dozen of those here.

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