Vinyl Shelf Finder

It is a truth universally acknowledged that a person in possession of a large record collection must be in want of a good shelving system. Valentin Galea has solved this problem by developing the Vinyl Shelf Finder. In this build, a web-based app directs a pan-and-tilt laser to point out your record of choice among your collection.

Vinyl Shelf Finder demo by Valentin Galea


Collector’s issues

People love to collect stuff. Stamps; soap bars; Troll dolls; belly button fluff (no, really); if you can think of a tangible item, someone out there in the world is collecting it. Of course, every collector needs to solve two issues — which system to use for cataloguing and sorting their collection, and how to best retrieve items from it. This is where Valentin’s Vinyl Shelf Finder comes in. He says:

My vinyl collection is pretty modest — about 500 records in one vertical shelf and a couple of boxes. This is enough to get cumbersome when I’m searching for specific stuff, so I came up with the idea of a automated laser pointer finder.

The Vinyl Shelf Finder

Valentin keeps an online record of his vinyl collection using Discogs. He entered each LP’s shelf position into the record, and wrote a Node.js app to access the Discogs database. The mobile app has a GUI from which he chooses records based on their name and cover image. To build the hardware, he mounted a Pimoroni Pan-Tilt HAT on a Raspberry Pi, and affixed a laser pointer to the HAT. When he selects a record in the app, the pan-and-tilt laser moves to point out the LP’s location.

Not only does the app help Valentin find records – he has also set it up to collect listening statistics using the API. He plans to add more sophisticated statistics, and is looking into how to automate the entry of the shelf positions into his database.

If you’re interested in the Vinyl Shelf Finder, head over to Valentin’s GitHub to learn more, and to find out about updates he is making to this work in progress.

GUI of Valentin Galea's Vinyl Shelf Finder app


Vinyl + Pi

We’ve previously blogged about Mike Smith’s kaleidoscopic Recordshelf build — maybe he and Valentin could team up to create the ultimate, beautiful, practical vinyl-shelving system!

If you listen to lots of LP records and would like to learn about digitising them, check out this Pi-powered project from Mozilla HQ. If, on the other hand, you have a vinyl player you never use, why not make amazing art with it by hacking it into a CNC Wood Burner?

Are you a collector of things common or unusual? Could Raspberry Pi technology help make your collection better? Share your ideas with us in the comments!


Dan avatar

Very cool! Need to get my records out of the loft and build this :)

Valentin Galea avatar

Hi, the creator of the system here. Thanks for the nice writeup!

In retrospect I should have named this thing better – I’m toying with “Vinyltin” :)

It was fun to do and there are a lot of cool ideas to pursue further. Maybe I will take you up on the partnership idea with Mike Smith! :D

Happy to answer any detail questions – reach me on my Twitter or via Github.

Andy Baker avatar

I have DIY RIAA preamp + 250 vinyls; you’ve just provided the missing link for finding them. Currently they’re in similar shelving to yours but in an oddly organised reverse alphabetical order (Z at the top left) due to 2 house moves!
I could just re-sort the vinyl, but this is a lot less boring! P.S. Nice taste in music! “Comfortably Numb” or “Smells like team spirit”? Hmm – maybe SLTS by Toris Amos as the kids are in bed!

Johnny avatar

I’m sorry, but this doesn’t seem very accurate to me, I would suggest a smaller laser if possible.

James Milton avatar

Bonus points if you can use the laser to read the music by scanning the surface :)

Simon Long avatar

Someone did once try that – have a look online for the Finial laser turntable. The trouble was that it failed to consider that the stylus on a conventional record player cleans a lot of the dirt and dust out of the grooves, while the laser didn’t, so you ended up with even more surface noise than you normally get from vinyl…

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