Their taste may be insufferable, but kids love music as much as anyone else. The problem is that it can be difficult for young children to find and play the songs they want to listen to. Most of us rely on music-streaming services like Spotify these days, but their interfaces aren’t designed with kids in mind. As a birthday gift for his son, Ohad Ron decided to build a boombox that would be easy for the 3-year-old to control.
Most 3-year-old children don’t even know the names of the songs or artists they like, much less how to spell them and type them into an app like Spotify. For that reason, Ron’s goal was to make this boombox as easy to use as possible. There are just three arcade buttons for control: previous track, play/pause, and next track. A image for the currently-selected song is shown on a small screen, so all Ron’s son has to do is scroll through the tracks until he sees the song he wants to play.
To build the boombox, Ron used a Raspberry Pi 3 Model B+ that came with a small TFT screen. The speakers are powered via USB coming from the Raspberry Pi. To connect the buttons, Ron took an interesting approach and connected them to a USB gamepad. That allowed him to plug the buttons into the Raspberry Pi’s USB port instead of using the GPIO pins, which helped with software capability. Those parts are all housed in an enclosure designed in Autodesk Fusion 360 and made from laser-cut acrylic.
The software to play the songs is built on the Vue framework and runs in the Chromium browser when the Raspberry Pi starts up. Songs can be ripped from YouTube and converted into MP3s, which the Vue application can access. It’s a simple solution that’s ideal for this boombox, because Ron’s son only needs to be able to scroll through songs and select the one he wants to listen to.