IKEA Shelf Becomes Kid Friendly MP3 Player

IKEA’s flatpack furniture has long been popular among makers for its modular nature and low cost, making it ideal for whacky experiments and custom builds. [Claus] is one such person, and built a fun MP3 player for his kids out of a basic LACK shelf.

The music is handled by an NodeMCU ESP8266, working in concert with a VS1053 audio board. The VS1053 is a highly capable chip, capable of decoding a variety of raw and compressed audio formats as well as MIDI, but here it’s used to read SD cards and play MP3s. An RC522 is used to read RFID cards to trigger various tracks, allowing kids to choose a song by simply placing a tag on the shelf. A cheap PAM8302 amplifier and speaker are used to output the music. All the hardware is installed neatly inside the LACK shelf, an easy job thanks to the primarily cardboard construction.

RFID cards are more fun than we normally give them credit for, and we’ve seen a few builds along similar lines to this one. Video of [Claus’s] child rocking out after the break.

17 thoughts on “IKEA Shelf Becomes Kid Friendly MP3 Player

    1. Yeah… As much as the kid likes it, it definitely needs a second version with some time put into the safety aspects. Those corners are at eye level, and cardboard or not they could do some serious damage at that level.

      I have been thinking of doing something similar for my kids rooms. My first thoughts were “these need to be both tough enough to survive being in a kids room and still safe enough that if they accidentally headbutt it while rocking out it won’t leave a dent.

      My current design is a 3′ high jukebox console with an industrial/commercial touch screen that’s designed for abuse (like in an atm or kiosk). All padded and anchored to the wall behind it so it can’t fall. Have a couple of speakers in the sides or front and a Pi inside to handle the software end of things. Load up all their favorite songs from the u-tubes and away we go.

  1. One has to wonder what the kids will learn of things like this.

    It’s kinda like teaching your child that money comes from behind your ear. Oh look, there’s a coin! How did that get there?

    1. You are assuming that the kid won’t one day try to figure out how it works by taking it apart. What kid do you know sees a coin come out from behind an ear and doesn’t eventually ask how that works? Or to be shown how to do it themselves. My son is 2 and I’m already having trouble pulling fast ones on him. He more often then not will give me the “hey what the heck are you trying to pull on me” face and start trying to work out what I just did. The coin trick stopped working on him when he was 1 & 1/2. Started trying to put the coin back in his head, then realized that’s not where it actually came from and spent a week checking people’s hands for more coins.

      Sometimes the best way for kids to learn is to present them with a “black box” that does something interesting when poked and let them explore it. It builds up the basics reflexes of exploratory investigation.

      1. Some might. As a general principle, teaching children that the wold works by “magic” when they’re young makes them more ready to accept lies when adults.

        Then again this thing is showing the child that throwing a plastic card on a table makes nice things happen, which is handy later on when you have to explain them credit cards…

  2. Very cool. My only quibble is that this is a shelf inviting kids to climb on or pull down. Better it’s a narrower shelf or flat against the wall with a little ledge to hold the fob.

    1. yeah I saw the problems immediately. kid drops the thin card to the floor of which should be on blocks with pictures btw then leans down under the shelf which is not much taller than himself gets frustrated because he can’t grip the edges of those thing cards gives up leans back upright whacking his head.

  3. Love this idea. I think I would make the music stop if the RFID is removed.

    I think this is lacking in today’s online only music. You could make an “album” with RFID that plays for adults too. Not sure how to pick the individual titles though.

    Great work!

    1. Actually the default behaviour of the current version is to stop playback on card removal, but you can configure this now.
      I also started a similar project to controll Spotify through RFID, but that’s far more complex to handle and doesn’t run as responsive as the MP3 version.

  4. That’s an overengineered solution to a simple problem. Used child-proof cassette tape players can be found at thrift stores along with “compatible software”. New empty tapes are available for 2€ each and a real hacker should be able to record MP3s on them. Bonus: hours of fun can be had with recording and listening to the own voice.

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