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.
The radio was stripped of its original hardware, with [MisterM] preferring internet radio to the terrestrial variety. In its place, a Raspberry Pi Zero was installed. This was fitted with a cavalcade of off-the-shelf modules to make it fit for pumping out the tunes. A Speaker PHAT was used for audio, while an Adafruit Micro Lipo board handled battery charging and a Pimoroni Lipo Shim served as the power supply. All this was bundled up inside the original casing.
The radio’s controls are a neat hack. The original volume and tuning dials were removed, sliced up, and glued onto two lever microswitches. This allows them to act as buttons instead. A new power switch was installed behind the original, and the Speaker PHAT’s LEDs were placed behind the tuning dial to act as a rudimentary display.
If you are into vintage electronics or restoring antique radio equipment you may be very disappointed with the content offerings on AM broadcast radio these days. Fortunately there is a way to get around this: build your own short-range AM broadcast station and transmit curated content to your radios (and possibly your neighbors). There are several options for creating your own short-range AM broadcast station, and this gives you something fun to tune into with your vintage radio gear.
Have a beautiful antique radio that’s beyond repair? This ESP8266 based Internet radio by [Edzelf] would be an excellent starting point to get it running again, as an alternative to a Raspberry-Pi based design. The basic premise is straightforward: an ESP8266 handles the connection to an Internet radio station of your choice, and a VS1053 codec module decodes the stream to produce an audio signal (which will require some form of amplification afterwards).
Besides the excellent documentation (PDF warning), where this firmware really shines is the sheer number of features that have been added. It includes a web interface that allows you to select an arbitrary station as well as cycle through presets, adjust volume, bass, and treble.
If you prefer physical controls, it supports buttons and dials. If you’re in the mood for something more Internet of Things, it can be controlled by the MQTT protocol as well. It even supports a color TFT screen by default, although this reduces the number of pins that can be used for button input.
The firmware also supports playing arbitrary .mp3 files hosted on a server. Given the low parts count and the wealth of options for controlling the device, we could see this device making its way into doorbells, practical jokes, and small museum exhibits.
If you’re looking for a hot collectible item and a great restoration project, cathedral-style radios from the 1930s are a solid choice. But they’re getting harder to find as the years roll by, so if your heart’s content is to listen to modern broadcasts through a radio with a classic look, you may need to roll your own cathedral case for an internet radio.
The cathedral-style case was a hugely successful form-factor for radios back in the day, with variations on the arch-top theme ranging from Gothic to Art Deco. For this build, [nick.r.brewer] decided on a more parabolic arch. His build log has SVG files for the individual ribs that were cut from plywood with an X-Carve. A Raspberry Pi and TFT display were mounted inside the finished case, along with a Bluetooth module and a 20W amplifier and speaker. A big 3-pole rotary switch with custom knob selects the audio source and evokes that 1930s feel. It ended up looking pretty good, and the video after the break shows that it sounds nice, too.
We featured a fair number of internet-radio-in-a-classic-case builds before, but we’re surprised to see no cathedral-style radios have been modded. Maybe it’s time to hit the flea market and estate sales and see what turns up.