Radio Lollipop – children’s hospital radio

Back in April, Stewart Priest from Glasgow got in touch with me about an idea he’d had.

I’m the Chief Engineer for Radio Lollipop in Glasgow. Radio Lollipop is a charity whose volunteers provide care, comfort, play and entertainment to children in hospital. We’re primarily a play service for inpatients in children’s hospitals, but as our name suggests, we also provide a radio service.

I’m currently having problems getting our signal to the oncology ward playroom – it’s the only area in the ward which can’t get our signal, so I got the OK from the hospital IT department (it’s handy that I work there!) to stream via their wifi infrastructure. Unfortunately though, the level of encryption they use (WPA2-Enterprise/PEAP, if you’re wondering!) isn’t supported by ANY off-the-shelf wifi radio currently available on the market.

Enter the Pi.

The Raspberry Pi worked a treat, the poorly kids in the oncology ward playroom were able to listen to their radio station, and Stewart started to think about what else he could do with the Pi. An email a couple of months later said:

I’m also hopeful of being able to produce a radio case in a small run for other people to use in their radio projects which could then be sold and raise a little extra cash for Radio Lollipop – we are entirely run by volunteers and get no funding from the NHS or charitable trusts connected to the hospitals we work in.

He’s just finished doing exactly that. And here it is: the first working prototype of the Radio Lollipop Pi-powered radio in a box. Cute, isn’t it?

Stewart is talking to Jon at Pimoroni about getting a PCB run spun up to make a number of these for Radio Lollipop stations across the world, and I hope he’ll put some up for auction too – I can think of a number of people who read this site who would be interested in bidding on them to raise money for Radio Lollipop. (And yes, before you ask, this is an instance of something we are very proud to allow use of the Raspberry Pi logo on.)

In the meantime, if you’d like to donate to Radio Lollipop – they’re entirely reliant on your donations for the important service they provide in hospitals across the world – you can do so here, or click on the image above. They provide much more than a radio station, with volunteers who visit the bedside to play games, chat, run art projects and much more. Please donate if you can.




Martin OHanlon avatar

Fantastic project and a brilliant use of a raspberry pi. Plus I have to ask…. Where did you get the buttons with the glowing led ring? They are brilliant.

AdriHD avatar

I recently used some of these for a prototype my company is pushing out soon. I found similar buttons on Amazon:



Hope it helps :)



Michael Horne avatar

How would you go about using these buttons with the Pi? I’m in need of finishing off a project and those buttons would be perfect!

Stewart Priest avatar

It’s pretty easy – the way I have it set up is to have the “switch” part of the button going to an input pin on the GPIO and another going to the 5v pin. There are, of course pins on the button which need to be grounded too. It’s very simple.

Stewart Priest avatar

Thanks Martin, it’s been fun to make!

I got the buttons from Adafruit. They’re great, and they can be powered straight from the 5v output on the GPIO…

Ben Shamsian avatar

Awesome project, where can I get more detail on how to make one of these radio

Stewart Priest avatar

Thanks Ben,

We’re currently working out whether we can produce these in a way which is cost effective. Drop me an email at stewart.priest(at) and I’ll keep you in touch with when the cases become available!

AdriHD avatar

I should imagine the perspex costed quite a bit. Perhaps an alternative such as:

Looks funky, cheap and cheerful and RPi should squeeze in there

Stewart Priest avatar

The perspex wasn’t much at all.. I get a nice deal from a local plastics company.. :-)

Frank avatar


As long as you release it all to the public preferably via the PI Foundation I will do you a professional PCB layout.


Stewart Priest avatar

Thanks for the offer, Frank – I’m already talking with Jon at Pimoroni, but if we take this further, I’ll be in touch!

James avatar

Very cool, really wish you would release specs. I’d love to build one. seems like a get little project.

Stewart Priest avatar

I’m working with Pimoroni to get a kit out there. Drop me an email (see comment 3 for the address) and I’ll let you know when its available!

Ewlie avatar

Hi Stewart

Another option would be to use t a USB to FM transmitter on the PI and re-transmit via FM your station in the ward where the signal was weak.

Then you don’t need a PI for each patient, just a FM radio.


Stewart Priest avatar

Unfortunatly, UK licensing laws forbid any broadcasting on unlicensed frequencies..

HaggisHunter avatar

How do you normally broadcast? I was imagining a transmitter of some kind which would also need to be licensed, or can you get around the requirements by keeping the signal in the building somehow?

Stewart Priest avatar

It’s a closed-circuit cabling system. Basically, a big loop of wire running from the studio to every speaker in the hospital.

Mike Field avatar

My 6 y.o. was just in Hospital in New Zealand for a week for hip surgery. We were just outside the Oncology Ward, and also saw the Radio Lollypop flyers on the notice board. Next thing I know I’m seeing it on the RaspPi blog!

If you ever do get a kit together, I’ll acquire one for the local hospital….

liz avatar

I hope your kid’s recovering well! Lovely to hear from someone who’s come across Radio Lollipop in the wild!

Stewart Priest avatar

I see people all the time who come into contact with RL (obviously), but it’s always nice to hear of others. :-)

Karl avatar

£5 coming your way. But when redirected from from paypal back to your site I get an error about no recipient.

Stewart Priest avatar

Thanks for letting me know Karl, and thanks for your donation. I’ll forward this on to our web guy and ask him to look into it.

Ken Kightly avatar

Great job on this, very clean look.
I hope you get this project off the ground. Have you thought of doing something like a kickstart or indigogo to raise funding for this project? Maybe a perk could be a radio case, with enough funds to donate one as well. If it cost $20 to produce charge $40 with the stipulation that one will be donated. Anyway, great job.

Stewart Priest avatar

Thanks for the suggestion Ken. I’m currently kicking ideas around with Pimoroni on this one!

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