Building a Wifi Radio Out of a Cheap Router

For a long time, I’ve been interested in those Internet radios. You know, looks like a radio, tunes stations from the Internet using your wifi Internet connection, acts like a radio, ostensibly to allow one to listen to streaming content without tying up/sitting in front of a computer. There were only two real problems I had: 1) they cost more than I really wanted to pay, and 2) even if I did want to pay the freight ($150 to $300) for one, rumblings are that the things are fairly inaccessible. Well, that’s a shame, since many of them, such as the ones based on Reciva’s platform, are GNU/Linux underneath with proprietary bits added. So it’s conceivable that it could be made accessible if someone wanted to bother, though not easily owing to the aforementioned proprietary bits. But then, there’s the Sharpfin project. Great idea, but it’s moving slowly, due to lack of smart programmer types interested in the project. I’m interested, just not smart. And besides, I want to spend less. Or at least, feel like I have.

So I did some more searching and found two similar projects. This one is very detailed, detailed enough for me to follow it even, so that’s where I started. Although, I found this one first. I expect I’ll borrow from it as well.

But there’s one little thing. Being blind, and, more pressing, all thumbs, I wasn’t about to tackle adding a serial port to my Asus WL-520GU router. Not only do I not need or want an LCD, I’m sure I’d toast something, and I didn’t have anyone nearby that would like to tackle it either, I’m sure. So, I’ll have an uglier box with more junk on the USB connection. No matter.

So, I didn’t tackle the hardware mods, nor did I do anything about the LCD display. Which meant I had to telnet in and do everything over the network. When I goofed up the channel assignment, that set me back a little bit, but not for long. Thank god for spare ethernet cables. So, a couple of speedbumps later, I actually have something that plays music! It isn’t pretty, but if I add things to the playlist, they play. Ultimately, here’s what I want to do:

  • Control the player from a USB numeric keypad
  • Have a speech synthesizer announce the current stream or song when asked (via the numeric keypad, using espeak
  • Possibly use vlc or mplayer with no output (just the bits that play the audio) in order to get Windows Media streams as well as MP3/ogg/etc.

Obviously, this will all take some time, and I’m sure I have a lot to learn to make it work, but it should be a fun diversion. Anyone wanna play with this with me?

Leave a Reply