Who needs vinyl records when you’ve got Raspberry Pi and NFC?

Redditor Mark Hank missed the tactile experience of vinyl records so he removed the insides of an old Sonos Boost to turn it into a Raspberry Pi- and NFC-powered music player. Yes, this really works:

The Sonos Boost was purchased for just £3 on eBay. Mark pulled all the original insides out of it and repurposed it as what they call a ‘vinyl emulator’ to better replicate the experience of playing records than what a simple touchscreen offers.

The Boost now contains a Raspberry Pi 3A+ and an ACR122U NFC reader, and it plays a specific album, playlist, or radio station when you tap a specific NFC tag on it. It’s teamed with Sonos speakers, and NTAG213 NFC tags. The maker recommends you go with the largest tags you can find, as it will improve read performance; they went with these massive ones.

One of the album covers printed onto thick card

The tags are inside printouts mounted on 1mm thick card (those album cover artwork squares getting chucked at the Sonos in the video), and they’re “super cheap” according to the maker.

You’ll need to install the node-sonos-http-api package on your Raspberry Pi; it’s the basis of the whole back-end of the project. The maker provides full instructions on their original post, including on how to get Spotify up and running on your Raspberry Pi.

The whole setup neatened up

Rather than manually typing HTTP requests into a web browser, the maker wanted to automate the process so that the Raspberry Pi does it when presented with certain stimulus (aka when the NFC reader is triggered). They also walk you through this process in their step-by-step instructions.

How the maker hid the mess under the display table

The entire build cost around £50, and the great thing is that it doesn’t need to sit inside an old Sonos Boost if you don’t want it to. The reader works through modest-width wood, so you can mount it under a counter, install it in a ‘now listening’ stand, whatever — it’s really up to you.

Full instructions are available on hackster.io! And here’s all the code you’ll need, handily stored on GitHub.


Ishaan Rashid avatar

Do you think this would work with a pi zero w that has dual usb connectors

bensimmo avatar

It should work fine, just a bit slower.
The ZeroW only has one uUSB connector, the other is a power connector only (in the shape of a uUSB socket)

Anders avatar

Hmmm, Raspberry Pi 2.1 camera to recognise album artwork? I might have a go at that.

John avatar

Damn! I guess I’ll be working late into the night again building another “must have” pi project. If the word “cool” was still fashionable this project wold be the epitome of cool.

Phil avatar

Presume you could nudge this to also recognise and play video files. Would also be tha basis for a teaching aid for young children, find the image and get the pi to say the words

Anil.v avatar

I want to play Back in Black

Brian H Wilson avatar

So basically the Sonos Boost is just providing a white plastic box? This won’t really provide the complete vinyl experience unless you add a thump at the beginning (needle drop) and some static throughout (known as comfort noise in the phone industry) and some random skips or stuck tracks and split the album in two sections requiring you to get up and turn the “album” over to play side 2 and then at the end of each side it has to go click-thump endlessly until you get up and turn it off. (No remote control) If you emulate a stacker instead it has to take at most 5 albums. You can put a 6th on but it has to sound really wobbly and weird. Also you need an accelerometer so if you bump the Sonos, the needle skips over the record making that horrible SCREEEEEETCH sound and then an internal database gets updated adding a new scratch at that spot in that recording.

Phil Spencelayh avatar

Of course if you look after your vinyl you won’t get jumps and missed tracks. It’s an interesting project but I won’t be getting rid of my own vinyl on the strength of a the audio performance of a basic pi. I do have a pi with a hifi berry dacpro plus but it’s not the same especially with spotify’s as the source (Spotify doesn’t do flac files unless that has changed since I tried it last)

Anders avatar

Then end of an LP groove had a course spiral to take the stylus arm close to the centre so it could detect the end of the side and automatically lift and park the stylus arm and stop the turntable spinning. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a turntable where the arm just “click-thumped endlessly”.

I don’t have vinyl because of circumstances but if it was down to me alone, I most definitely would.

John Ellis avatar

All very high quality turntables just sat in the end of the groove. To get the very best performance, gadgets like auto anything just detracted from the result.

Jongoleur avatar

Most turntables have the auto-stop feature that lifts the arm as it traverses the run out spiral and parks it safely on the arm rest.

Its only the high end audiophile turntables that don’t do that as the arm is a completely separate mechanism to the turntable. Anyone used to that sort of setup wouldn’t be ditching it for a Pi-moderated device!

jan schepers avatar

This is a nice and inspiring project.
But would it be possible to send the signal of to a ChromeCast?

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