While we have a definite sweet spot in our hearts for analog radio, there are times that just call for a digital upgrade. One of the downsides that can come with this upgrade is complexity. For example, the more software-minded among us might base their build on the Music Player Daemon, and use a web interface for control. But that’s not everyone’s idea of a good time, and particularly an older user of your gizmos might really appreciate a simple, tactile user interface. That’s the situation [Blake Hannaford] was in, while building an Internet powered radio for someone else.
The solution was to take a familiar analog radio, the Tivoli Audio Model One, and give it a digital makeover. Now before you get worked up about wrecking the purity of a classic radio, note that the Model One is a faux-classic, made in 2000. No antiques were harmed in the making of this hack, and the exterior is essentially left stock — the only visible modification being the taped-on tuner label.
Inside it’s a Raspberry Pi Zero, the Adafruit Audio Bonnet, and a 3D printed bracket to tie a variable potentiometer to the tuning knob. The original volume knob and speaker are re-used. As [Blake] says, sometimes all you need is tuning and volume. Plus, re-using the speaker means that the whole unit still sounds great. Sometimes simple really is best.
For those interested in a career in broadcast radio there aren’t many routes into the business. Student radio, pirate radio, and hospital radio usually feature somewhere near the start of any DJ’s resumé. Hospital radio stations often don’t have a transmission license and have historically relied on wired systems, but since those can’t reach everywhere they are now more likely to look to the Internet. [AllanGallop] has created the Mini Web Radio for the hospital station in the British city of Milton Keynes, a compact battery-powered single station streaming radio receiver that can pick up those tunes anywhere with a wireless network connection.
Inside the neatly designed 3D printed box the hardware is quite straightforward, a WeMos ESP32 board and a MAX98357A I2S digital amplifier module all powered by an 18650 cell. There’s a volume control and headphone socket, which is all that’s needed for the user interface. The software has code for both Arduino and Platform.io and is configured as you might expect through a web interface. Everything can be found in a handy GitHub repository should you wish to build one yourself. Meanwhile, it’s particularly pleasing as a Hackaday scribe to feature a project with roots in one’s own hackerspace, in this case, Milton Keynes Makerspace.
Of course, the core Internet streaming code would be useful with any ESP32, but the display makes for a good-looking unit. The code is available on GitHub. With judicious use of network and audio libraries, the player only takes a few hundred lines of code. Pretty impressive considering it even shows a visualization on the tiny display screen.
What we’d really like to see is a nice case, power supply, and speaker option to make a tiny and portable unit. With a 3D printer, it is easy to make very professional-looking projects, as we often see. On the other hand, it does look better than the breadboard version you can see towards the end of the video. It is, though, a neatly done breadboard.
There’s nothing quite like vintage hardware, and the way it looks and works is something that can be worth celebrating. [Old Tech. New Spec] did that with his loving modification of a 1964 Dansette portable radio, bringing it into the modern era by giving it the ability to play Internet radio stations while keeping all the original controls and appearance. As he says, you’d hardly know it has been modified unless you turned it on.
A real centerpiece of this conversion is that the inner part of the tuning dial has been replaced with a full color LCD display that shows, among other things, the logo of whatever Internet radio station is currently playing. The combination of LCD and convex lens looks fantastic, and blends beautifully into the aesthetic.
Inside the device is a Raspberry Pi, some simple Python scripts, and a Pirate Audio board. Together, they handle the job of audio streaming and output, displaying album art, and accepting inputs for playback controls. A large power bank ensures the result remains portable, and as usual with vintage hardware, there’s no worry about fitting everything inside. Watch it in action in the video embedded below. (And if the name of the audio board got you excited, but you’re disappointed to discover there’s no actual pirate broadcasting happening? Well, the Raspberry Pi can do that, too.)
Terrestrial radio is all well and good, but it limits you to listening to local stations. [Nick Koumaris] lives in a small town in Southern Greece, and his favorite stations sadly don’t transmit in his area. Thus, an internet radio was the natural solution.
While a Raspberry Pi is a common way to go in these situations, an ESP32 has enough grunt to do the job without the long boot times that come with running a full Linux distribution. Combined with a VS1503 MP3 decoder board and a PAM8403 amplifier, it’s more than capable of tuning in streams online. [Nick] went with a retro-look interface on an LCD, using a Nextion part for its onboard controller and in-built GUI tools. Taking inspiration from the project, [David Watts] executed a similar build, but instead used an Arduino Nano to interface the controls on a vintage Roberts RM20 radio instead.
While we’ve all got smartphones we can use to listen to content online, it can be nice to use a device that allows us to put on some music without constant notifications and chimes every time an email comes in or a government scandal erupts in a nearby country. When building your own radio, you can tailor the interface to suit your tastes – like this build that lets users scan the globe for a station to listen to. Video after the break.
Listening to radio from distant countries used to take a shortwave rig, but thanks to the Internet we can now pull in streams from all over the globe from the comfort of our own desktop. With a few clicks you can switch between your local news station and the latest in pop trends from Casablanca. But as convenient as online streaming might be, some folks still yearn for the traditional radio experience.
For those people, the Raspberry Pi World Radio by [Abraham Martinez Gracia] might be the solution. Built into the body of a 1960s Invicta radio, this Internet radio uses a very unique interface. Rather than just picking from a list of channels, you use the knobs on the front to pan and zoom around a map of the world. Streaming channels are represented by bubbles located within their country of origin, so you’ll actually have to “travel” there to listen in. The video after the break gives a brief demonstration of how it works in practice.
We’ll admit it might become a bit tedious eventually, but from a visual standpoint, it’s absolutely fantastic. [Abraham] even gave the map an appropriately vintage look to better match the overall aesthetic. Normally we’d say using a Raspberry Pi 4 to drive a streaming radio player would be a bit overkill, but considering the GUI component used here, it’s probably the right choice.
There’s no denying that the reach and variety of internet radio is super cool. The problem is that none of the available interfaces really give the enormity of the thing the justice it deserves. We long for a more physical and satisfying interface for tuning in stations from around the globe, and [Jude] has made just the thing.
The other encoder is on the left side of the globe, and reads whatever latitude is focused in the reticle. Both encoder are connected to a Raspberry Pi 4, though if you want to replicate this open-source project using the incredibly detailed instructions, he says a Raspberry Pi 3 B+ will work, too.
In the base there’s an LCD that shows the coordinates, the city, and the station ID. Other stations in the area are tune-able with the jog wheel on the base. There’s also an RGB LED that blinks red while the station is being tuned in, and turns green when it’s done. We totally dig the clean and minimalist look of this build — especially the surprise transparent bottom panel that lets you see all the guts.
There are three videos after the break – a short demo that gives you the gist of how it works, a longer demonstration, and a nice explanation of absolute rotary encoders. Those are just the tip of the iceberg, because [Jude] kept a daily vlog of the build.