Single board computer projects

PiPyRadio: Revive old Radio with a Raspberry Pi

last updated: 2023-07-23

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My old Kitchen Radio can broadcast only few radio stations because of the limited antenna. An USB receiver connected to "AUX" helps but is not really satisfying because of the time needed to connect the tablet or handy.

I still had some older Raspberry Pi's and also a display and even an unused DAC hat. So let's go.


Set up the Pi

Burn the newest OS with the Raspberry Pi Imager. I use the standard 32 bit OS with Desktop, because I love VNC and Thonny to program. You can set the hostname (pipyradio), the ssh access, the wireless lan etc. in the Imager (gear) before writing to the SD card.

I use an Rspberry Pi 3+ with a 5" HDMI display (800*480) and a PiFi DAC+ v2.0 hat, but other should also be ok. An USB bluetooth dongle helps to add a bluetooth receiver. The net tells that the internal bluetooth chip is not reliable. It seems even good to connect the stick with a cable extension to USB to avoid interference with the Raspi.


Static IP

We want a static ip to access the pi, so we add the following lines to the file /etc/dhcpcd.conf

    interface wlan0
    static ip_address=
    static routers=
    static domain_name_servers=

Next we update the software, install the midnight commander (I love mc) and use raspi-config to expand the filesystem (6 Advanced Options A1) , enable VNC (Interface Options I3) and set the VNC resolution to the highest value (2 Display Options D5).

    sudo apt update && sudo apt upgrade
    sudo apt install mc htop
    sudo raspi-config

Enable the DAC Hat

In the next step we have to tweak some things in the config.txt filer that resides in the /boot folder.

    sudo nano /boot/config.txt 

With the comment char (#) we switch the internal audio off:


For the Audio hat we switch on resp. add:


Save with Ctrl+o and exit with Ctrl+x.

After a reboot we can test the audio shield with:

    speaker-test -c2 -twav -l7

If there are problems with the volume test:


Add the Music Player

Now we install the Music Player Daemon (mpd), the software that is able to stream the internet radios and a minimal command line tool (mpc):

    sudo apt-get install mpd mpc

Look if the daemon is running with:

    systemctl status mpd.service

If not start the service:

    systemctl start mpd.service

Here some commands to test mpc:

    mpc help
    mpc add
    mpc play
    mpc stop
    mpc clear # to get new url
    mpc status

With add we add a station to the queue and with clear we remove all entries from the queue.

For me the sound didn't work out of the box and I had to add the following lines to the music player daemon config file /etc/mpd.conf.

    sudo nano /etc/mpd.conf
    audio_output {
        type            "alsa"
        name            "My ALSA Device"
        device          "hw:1,0"        # optional
        mixer_type      "software"      # optional

On another pi the sound worked, but the volume didn't work. I added the 4 lines, but the device was "hw:0,0".

Save with Ctrl+o and exit with Ctrl+x.

Avoid connection problems

Power save sometimes switches the WiFi off, when it thinks the Raspi is inactive.

With the following commands we can read the current power save state, and disable power_save.

    /sbin/iw wlan0 get power_save
    sudo /sbin/iw wlan0 set power_save off

we can disable power save.

Since the iw command is not persistant, we must add the following line to /etc/rc.local right before exit 0 to be sure power_save is off after startup.

    sudo nano /etc/rc.local
    /sbin/iw wlan0 set power_save off

Save with Ctrl+o and exit with Ctrl+x.

PiPyRadio Software

The Software is on github (

The Python software folder has 4 files:

In the main program we can adjust some things:

    my_dir = "/home/weigu/PiPyRadio/"  # Change according your path
    stations_txt_file = my_dir + "radio_stations.txt"
    image_file = my_dir + "pipyradio_488.png"
    station_playing_nr = 1
    volume = 65 #0-100

The path must point to the 4 files, so that the program can find the image and station files. The image file can be replaced by another image fitting in the header. We can decide witch station is playing when the program starts, and set also the starting volume.

The radio_stations.txt file has the following format:

    France Musique|

The first part is the name of the station, displayed on the button, so it should not be too long. After the | seperator comes the streaming URL that you must find in the Internet :).

There ist no limitation with the number of stations.

Start the software after reboot

We must start the Python program only after the GUI has started. So we don't add a line to /etc/rc.local but to /etc/xdg/lxsession/LXDE-pi/autostart. Add the following line:

    sudo nano /etc/xdg/lxsession/LXDE-pi/autostart
    @/usr/bin/python3 /home/weigu/PiPyRadio/

Save with Ctrl+o and exit with Ctrl+x.

Adding a bluetooth receiver

Sometimes we want to stream over bluetooth using our phone or tablet. To use a bluetooth receiver we add an bluetooth stick as mentioned above. Now we need the software (Thanks to nicokaiser).

We download the compressed project files with the wget command and unzip the zip file. Then we remove it and change to the new directory to install the software with a script:

    wget -q
    cd rpi-audio-receiver-main 
    sudo ./ 

The hostname is the name of our pi (pipyradio) device itself, and the pretty Name is what we'll actually see in our bluetooth listing when trying to connect. Bluetooth Audio (PulseAudio) needs to be installed (y). Shairport Sync AirPlay 1 Audio Receiver and Spotify Connect are optional.

If we have an external stick, we need to disable the internal bluetooth chip, add the following line to /boot/config.txt:

    sudo nano /boot/config.txt 

Save with Ctrl+o and exit with Ctrl+x.

After this we have to reboot:

    sudo reboot

Now we can setup the receiver with:

    sudo bluetoothctl

We enter the following commands:

    power on
    discoverable on
    pairable on

My kitchen radio

In my old Phillips kitchen radio (MC-M250) that I bought 20 years ago, I removed the cassette part. This gave me enough place inside, to add the Raspberry Pi and the audio hat. Still missing a blend from my 3D printer to to cover the cable connections.



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