Linamp, The IRL Winamp

Anyone who first experienced music on computers using Winamp probably shares a memory of seeing that classic UI for the first time. Everything about it was a step ahead of the clunky, chunky interfaces we were used to, and even though it was supposed to be unobtrusive, it was hard to tear your eyes off that silky-smooth spectrum analyzer bouncing out your favorite MP3s.

Recapturing a little of the Winamp magic is the goal of Linamp, an physical version of the classic media player. It reproduces the Winamp UI on a touchscreen LCD with a wide aspect ratio that almost perfectly matches the original layout. Behind the display is a Raspberry Pi 4 with a 32 GB SD card, with all the important connections brought out to a board on the back of the case. The case itself is a treat, as it borrows design elements from another bit of retro gear, the mini-rack audio systems that graced many a bookshelf in the 1980s — and powered many high school parties too, if memory serves.

To recreate the case, [Rodmg] designed a sheet metal case and had it custom-made from anodized aluminum by PCBWay. He also printed a bezel for the display that looks very similar to the Winamp window border, complete with control icons. Where the build really shines, though, is with the work [Rodmg] put into the software. He matched the original Winamp UI very closely, both in terms of layout and performance. The pains he went to to get the spectrum analyzer working, including a deep dive into FFT, are impressive.

The results speak for themselves on this one, and hats off to [Rodmg] for the effort and the ride on the nostalgia train. We don’t know if the recent announcement of Winamp’s impending open-sourcing will have much impact on this project, but it might result in a flood of new Winamp builds.

Customizable Bird Clock Sings The Hours By

For those looking to build their own clocks, one of the easiest ways to get started is with a pre-built module that uses a simple quartz oscillator and drives a set of hands. This generally doesn’t allow for much design of the clock besides the face, and since [core weaver] was building a clock that plays bird songs, a much more hackable clock driver was needed to interface with the rest of the electronics needed to build this project.

The clock hands for this build are driven by a double stepper motor which controls an hour and minute hand coaxially but independently. Originally an H-bridge circuit was designed for driving each of the hands but they draw so little current in this configuration that they could be driven by the microcontroller directly. A DS3231 clock is used for timekeeping connected to an ATMega128a which controls everything else. At the start of each hour the clock plays a corresponding bird song by communicating with an mp3 module, and a remote control can also be used to play the songs on demand.

Bird clocks are not an uncommon thing to find off the shelf, but this one adds a number of customizations that let it fly above those offerings, including customizing the sounds that play on the hour and adding remote control capabilities, a lithium battery charging circuit, and a number of other creature comforts. If you’re looking for even more unique bird clock designs this binary bird clock might fit the bill.

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Wozamp Turns Apple II Into Music Player

Besides obvious technological advancements, early computers built by Apple differed in a major way from their modern analogs. Rather than relying on planned obsolescence as a business model, computers like the Apple II were designed to be upgradable and long-term devices users would own for a substantially longer time than an iPhone or Macbook. With the right hardware they can even be used in the modern era as this project demonstrates by turning one into a music player.

The requirements for this build are fairly short; an Apple II with a serial card and a piece of software called surl-server which is a proxy that allows older computers to communicate over modern networks. In this case it handles transcoding and resampling with the help of a Raspberry Pi 3. With that all set up, the media player can play audio files in an FTP network share or an online web radio station. It can also display album art on the Apple II monitor and includes a VU meter that is active during playback.

Although the 11.52 kHz sampling rate and 5-bit DAC may not meet the stringent requirements of audiophile critics, it’s an impressive build for a machine of this era. In fact, the Apple II has a vibrant community still active in the retrocomputing world, with plenty of projects built for it including others related to its unique audio capabilities. And if you don’t have an original Apple II you can always get by with an FPGA instead.

Automated Shusher Keeps Conference Loudmouths In Line

Few things are more annoying than being at a conference and having an inconsiderate group conducting a vociferous sidebar that drowns out the speaker. More annoying still is the inevitable shushing; nobody likes being either the shusher or the shushed. So why not take the humans out of the loop and automate the chore of keeping the peace?

Such was the challenge presented to [BotBerg] before a recent conference, who came up with this automated shusher (translation) on short notice. The build is based on the Arduino Nano 33 BLE Sense Deck, a sensor-rich dev board that’s perhaps a little overkill for the job, but hey — you roll with what you’ve got. The board’s MEMS microphone is the sensor used here, which measures the ambient sound pressure level multiple times per second. When the background noise exceeds a potentiometer-set threshold, an MP3 player is triggered to play a sound clip entreating the offenders to pipe down. The whole thing is housed in a playful 3D-printed enclosure shaped like a mouth, which should be sufficient reminder alone to keep yours shut.

This was a quick-and-dirty prototype, of course, and probably could use some refinement. Given the behavior we’ve witnessed at some conferences, we’d say hooking it up to a Nerf turret gun would be a justifiable escalation.

Annoying Cicada Magnet Is Nonetheless Authentic

We’ve all heard of those chirper devices that randomly make annoying noises for no other reason than sending people insane. This project from [Kousuke Saito] brings altogether more art to this idea, while still being quite annoying indeed.

The build is essentially a replica cicada. [Saito] was inspired to build the device as the sounds of the insect remind him fondly of the summer. His design consists of a 3D-printed housing that roughly approximates something like a cicada, with two wings attached to a central body. In this case, the layer lines of the 3D print actually added to the realism of the ersatz insect The housing is nicely painted to serve as an adequate simulacra to those who aren’t up on their entomology.

Inside, there’s an ATTiny 85 paired with an MP3 playback module and a small speaker. It’s charged with reproducing the noise of various cicadas. It’s setup with an ingenious mechanism to switch it on. There are magnets installed in the base which allow it to stick to metallic objects. There’s also a switch in the bottom of the device. When it magnetically attaches to a surface, that switch is depressed, and the cicada starts playing, well… cicada noises. [Saito] notes that a patent has been secured for the idea.

We’ve seen other cicada-themed projects before, astoundingly. Video after the break.

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3d printed tiny gym in a box with mirror and led strip lighting

Get Pumped For This Miniature Gym

[Duncan McIntyre] lives in the UK but participated in a secret Santa gift exchange for his Dutch friends’ Sinterklaas celebration. In traditional maker fashion, [Duncan] went overboard and created a miniature gym gift box, complete with flashing lights, music and a motorized lid.

[Duncan] used [TanyaAkinora]’s 3D printed tiny gym to outfit the box with tiny equipment, with a tiny mirror added to round out the tiny room. An ATmega328P was used as the main microcontroller to drive the MP3 player module and A4988 stepper motor controller. The stepper motor was attached to a drawer slide via a GT2 timing belt and pulley to actuate the lid. Power is provided through an 18V, 2A power supply with an LM7805 providing power to the ATmega328P and supporting logical elements. As an extra flourish, [Duncan] added some hardware audio signal peak detection, fed from the speaker output, which was then sampled by the ATmega328P to be able to flash the lights in time with the playing music. A micro switch detects when the front miniature door is opened to begin the sequence of lights, song and lid opening.

[Duncan] provides source on GitHub for those curious about the Arduino code and schematics. We’re fans of miniature pieces of ephemera and we’ve featured projects ranging from tiny 3D printed tiny escalators to tiny arcade cabinets.

Video after the break!

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Kids’ Jukebox Based On Arduino With RFID

Consumer electronics aimed at young children tend to be quite janky and cheap-looking, and they often have to be to survive the extreme stress-testing normal use in this situation. You could buy a higher quality item intended for normal use, but this carries the risk of burning a hole in the pockets of the parents. To thread the needle on this dilemma for a child’s audiobook player, [Turi] built the Grimmboy for a relative of his.

Taking its name from the Brothers Grimm, the player is able of playing a number of children’s stories and fables in multiple languages, with each physically represented by a small cassette tape likeness with an RFID tag hidden in each one. A tape can be selected and placed in the player, and the Arduino at the center of it will recognize the tag and play the corresponding MP3 file stored locally on an SD card. There are simple controls and all the circuitry to support its lithium battery as well. All of the source code that [Turi] used to build this is available on the project’s GitHub page.

This was also featured at the Arudino blog as well, and we actually featured a similar project a while ago with a slightly different spin. Both are based on ideas from Tonuino, an open source project aimed at turning Arduinos into MP3 players. If you’re looking to build something with a few more features, though, take a look at this custom build based on the RP2040 microcontroller instead.