Pocket Radio Powered By Tiny Microcontroller

Before the days of MP3 players and smartphones, and even before portable CD players, those of us of a certain age remember that our cassette players were about the only way to take music on-the-go. If we were lucky, they also had a built-in radio for when the single tape exhausted both of its sides. Compared to then, it’s much easier to build a portable radio even though cassettes are largely forgotten, as [wagiminator] shows us with this radio design based on an ATtiny.

The build is about as compact as possible, with the aforementioned ATtiny 402/412 as its core, it also makes use of an integrated circuit FM tuner,  an integrated audio amplifier with its own single speaker, and a small OLED display. The unit also boasts its own lithium-polymer battery charger and its user interface consists of only three buttons, plenty for browsing radio stations and controlling volume.

The entire build fits easily in the palm of a hand and is quite capable for a mobile radio, plus all of the schematics and code is available on the project page. While it doesn’t include AM capability, just the fact that FM is this accessible nowadays when a few decades ago it was cutting-edge technology is quite remarkable. If you’re looking for an even smaller FM receiver without some of the bells and whistles of this one, take a look at this project too.

33 thoughts on “Pocket Radio Powered By Tiny Microcontroller

      1. That’s not even 21st century though. Got one the size of a USB stick that was a promo freebie in 1998 with a millennium countdown clock.

        Also Edwardians were schlepping their suitcase gramophones on picnics or boat trips before 90% of the readership’s grandparents were born.

        1. Wow! I had no idea there had ever been an integrated circuit inside a tube. They say you learn something new every day, this is it. Thanks for the link!

  1. Bandwagon time! [Insert pedantic nitpick over authors writing style here]

    It’s a cool little project radio if you need to bring it or the person sharing it down a notch maybe go need to go touch grass. Or start your own blog. I thought we got passed this “arduino isn’t a hack” thing a few years ago?

    1. Right? There’s been way too many troll comments recently who only show up to crap on everything then leave. The one thing they have in common is all these new accounts have never had any of their projects posted.

        1. Yes, the article missed all the good points, such as it makes maximum use of a little 8 pin ATTiny to do all the smarts, no 99.9% wasted Pi here as seen on a “rip the guts out of a vintage radio and stick a pi in it” build we’ve seen a couple of. Then the way it’s all on one board, should give you a quite robust and reliable radio given some minimal packaging. Great for when the power is suddenly out and you’re trying to figure what the hell is going on. The project is detailed enough you could roll your own power alternatives, solar, dynamo etc. With the USB micro input I already have a solar battery bank and handheld crank charger I could juice it up with.

          1. This could have been a 50 ohm lead on an lc circuit plus a diode or 2.

            Lol still looked at article to see whether recording, ai companding, HD radio, etc.

        2. Your personal standards have no bearing and are not a requirement for this site. Sure you are free to share your displeasure, but likewise other people are free to respond alternatively. This is the internet.

          1. I think meeting standards is primary, and your eliding it is pure hate. Is this not Advanced Filters? [ Kicks an effigy that doesn’t meet your personal standards down a well.]

          2. Like I said feel free to complain but dont be surprised if you find your argument less than persuasive in this venue. Perhaps if you were a paying customer, but not here; beggars cant be choosers.

  2. Also there were cheap battery-powered portable record players in the 1970s. For unknown reasons those “Mangiadischi” were very popular in Italy (and not so much anywhere else).

  3. Portable record players go back a long way, Techmoan reviewed one from the 60’s but I’m sure they went back a lot further.
    Here in Oz our family had a portable open reel tape recorder in the 60’s, a Loewe Opta Optacord 414. Somewhere I still have a tape my brother recorded off TV of the first live international telecast of the Beatles via Telstar.

      1. Now I’ve piqued my own interest to look for it. The Optacord is long, long gone now.
        Funny thing is I’ve been trying to google when this was but haven’t found a definitive answer.
        I don’t recall the event itself but playing with the recorder as a kid in later years I was warned by my parents not to attempt recording over that tape as it was a historical event.

  4. I interpreted the quoted line to mean music as in your own music that isn’t whatever trite garbage is available over the air.

    Are you really bringing music if you just bring a radio? Or are you just bringing access to random noises to fill your ears picked by someone else?

    Sometimes it can be hard to give someone the benefit of the doubt.

  5. Literally 60 years ago I had a little portable tape recorder which used 3 inch NAB hub reels of 1/4 inch tape and ran on a couple of D-cells. Take that, cassettes!

  6. Nice little build but an old, unused android cell phone pretty much does the same thing. Tell you what though, if you built an SDR into it I’d be game to build one!

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