ESP32 Internet Radio Is No Game

More than once, we’ve looked at a cool board like the TTGO T-Display and thought, “What can we build with this?” If you’re [Danko Bertović], the answer is the tiny Internet radio you can see in the Volos Projects video below.

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.

If you want a larger screen, you might enjoy the ESP32 internet radio we looked at before. Probably our favorite case for an Internet radio was this globe.

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Front view of vintage radio, with small screen inset into tuner.

Vintage Radio Gets Internet Upgrade

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.

Internet radio station logos scrolling across small LCD screen
A full color LCD behind a convex lens matches the radio’s aesthetic.

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.)

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Building An Internet Radio Is Quick And Easy With The ESP32

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.

[David Watts] did a similar build, throwing the hardware inside a stunning Roberts RM20 radio from the 1970s.
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.

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World Radio Lets Your Fingers Do The Walking

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.

Of course we’ve seen Internet radios built into vintage enclosures before, and we’ve even seen one that used a globe to select the station, but combining both of those concepts into one cohesive project is really quite an accomplishment.

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RadioGlobe Takes The World Of Internet Radio For A Spin

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.

RadioGlobe lets the user tune in over 2000 stations from around the world by spinning a real globe. It works by using two absolute rotary encoders that each have a whopping 1024 positions available. One encoder is stuck into the South Pole, and it reads the lines of longitude as the user spins the globe.

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.

Maybe you just long for a web radio that dials in vintage appeal. This antique internet radio has a lot of features, but you wouldn’t know it from the outside.

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Vintage Transistor Radio Gets Internet Transplant

The invention of the transistor revolutionized radio, allowing receivers to be made far more compact and portable than ever before. In the middle of the 20th century, the devices exploded in popularity, and pocket transistor radios took the market by storm. [MisterM] had fond memories of such times, and when he found a 1970s Flirt radio at a car boot sale, it led to a cute little 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.

It’s a tidy build that repurposes an attractive vintage artefact into a device of the internet age, while remaining externally the same. [MisterM] has form in this space, with his vintage radio console build and video doorbell being particular highlights. Video after the break.

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Dust Off Those AM Radios, There’s Something Good On!

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.

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