Raspberry Pi, for all your 50s diner needs

Have you ever been to a cafe or restaurant with 1950s jukebox wallboxes in each booth? Wallboxes were an extension for a jukebox, making it more convenient to select music right from your table. You’d drop a coin in, choose a song from the flipbook behind the glass, chrome and plastics, and the machine would send pulses down a wire to the restaurant’s jukebox, where a stepper would decode the pulses and queue up the song you’d picked. Refurbished wallboxes occasionally pop up in mock-50s diners; you’ll also see them for sale on eBay for anything up to a few hundred quid, and people buy them to add to their jukeboxes, or just as home decoration (I’ve seen one being used as a particularly cumbersome phonebook).

Wallbox in situ

Steve Devlin bought himself a couple of wallboxes a few years ago, meaning to hook them up to an MP3 player. He then switched over to a SONOS wireless media system in his house, and forgot about the wallboxes for a couple of years.

Enter the Pi.

On looking at a Raspberry Pi and a wallbox, Steve had an idea. Why not hook the two up together to make a controller for the SONOS system? The Pi decodes the pulses from the box, and sends the information to the SONOS system. (This approach will work with any UPnP protocol, so you’re not limited to using SONOS.)

Steve’s thinking about further customisation: a strip in the box with Radio 4 on it; some dynamic strips like “songs of the week”, which will play a selection of the week’s most-played tunes; some LEDs to show a binary index of common faults, like the wifi being down, or a song not being found.

There are full instructions and much more information on Steve’s website. We think there’s something really compelling about this mix of old and new; thanks for sharing, Steve!


Jim Manley avatar

I guess people really are having trouble submitting comments if I’m able to reply first an entire five hours after Liz posts an article … assuming this gets through ;)

This is pretty neat, but now I’ll have to go visit some local “dinahs” (as we say in Joisey) that aren’t open 24 hours a day for a “five-fingered discount” or to make something “fall off the back of a truck”, if ya gets my drift … if not, fuhgeddaboudid! :D

liz avatar

Yeah – we think you’re right. We’re going to be turning off Spam Free WordPress and all the other comments plugins and starting again from scratch later this week; we’ll see how it goes from there!

Darren avatar

Hey guys,
Testing this out per your tweet!

Richard Howell avatar

Testing the comments system

Phoenix avatar

Commmmeeeennnnt Tsunamiii! :)

Richard Howell avatar

Is this s a nested comment?

Neil avatar

Big happy smiley test comment.

Jack Halliwell avatar

A 50’s diner at Cheshire Oaks in the UK has one of these on every table, and there must be at least 10 tables in there!

Simon Walters avatar

Comments- I’ll give you comments !!!!!! :)

Simon Walters avatar

Seems to work OK for me :)

Raspberry Tester avatar

Site’s back up. Can you help us out? It’d be v helpful if you could comment on the most recent post (jukebox) – LMK here if it doesn’t work!

liz avatar

Thank you!

alex eames (RasPi.TV) avatar

Nested comment attempt

meltwater avatar

I’ll nest your comment, and nest it again…perhaps.

meltwater avatar

And nest it.

meltwater avatar

Humm, nests and tweets, a theme perhaps.

Jim Manley avatar

Well, you’ve beaked my interest, so let’s see if I can contribute another layer to the straw poll of this line of commentary!

meltwater avatar

Jim, you appear to have reached the end of the branch.

Time for me to duck out. :D

gyeben avatar

Test comment
If you see this comment it means that this comment has been successfully sent.

gyeben avatar

Yay! It works for me at last! :-)

However, the styling of the comments part isn’t really nice at the moment.

The Other Peter Green avatar

Couldn’t post yesterday: got “Access Denied. This site is protected by the Stop Spammer Registrations Plugin.” Let’s see if it’s fixed now…

The Other Peter Green avatar

OK, it’s working now! Let’s test this nested comment.

Comments are closed