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Raspberry Pi Cassette Player Reads NFC Cards to Choose Albums

Raspberry Pi
(Image credit: Waymonster)

With most media digitized nowadays, the experience of picking up a physical album and interacting with a stereo to change the music is quickly becoming a thing of the past. However, despite the user-friendly interface of most music streaming platforms, the Raspberry Pi community has stepped forward to recreate the old school process—albeit with a modern twist. This cassette player project from Reddit user Waymonster (opens in new tab) doesn’t just play cassettes; he’s fitted it with an NFC reader to select an album by reading custom NFC cards.

The project isn’t the first wireless-operated stereo we’ve covered. We recently shared this Sonos radio that relies on NFC cards to change albums. This RFID-controlled radio interacts with Spotify to queue up songs and playlists.

What sets this NFC stereo apart from others is Waymonster’s decision to house the project inside of an old cassette tape player. According to Waymonster, there was enough room inside the stereo to accommodate the Pi project without removing anything. The original hardware remains intact and can function like a cassette player if you remove the NFC sensor.

Waymonster is using a Raspberry Pi 3B+ to power this project, but there’s no reason you couldn’t use a more recent model like the Raspberry Pi 4. The Pi is fitted with a HiFiBerry DAC2 HD HAT and uses a Mifare RC522 module to read the NFC cards.

Instead of streaming music from an online platform, Waymonster uses Volumio to play media stored locally on a NAS. He used the Volumio GPIO Buttons plugin to interface with the physical buttons on the stereo. Each card corresponds with a custom playlist comprised of tracks belonging to the album printed on the card.

The best Raspberry Pi projects are the ones you can make at home, and thankfully there’s plenty of material online for anyone interested in creating a similar project themselves. For example, Waymonster printed custom artwork on blank NFC cards, but you can use anything with an NFC tag.

There are a few ways to approach the software side—Waymonster recommends looking through this NFC Music Box project over at GitHub (opens in new tab) to get started. For more details, check out the original project thread shared to Reddit (opens in new tab).

Ash Hill
Freelance News and Features Writer

Ash Hill is a Freelance News and Features Writer at Tom's Hardware US. She manages the Pi projects of the month and much of our daily Raspberry Pi reporting.