If there’s one thing Raspberry Pi fans love, it’s a good jam. Today, we have another cool music-themed project to share — this one is known as the Kaboom Box, created by maker Cameron Coward. Using our favorite microcontroller, the Raspberry Pi Pico, Coward brings an old Panasonic RQ-830S 8-track player from the 70s back into working order. It even uses original 8-track cartridges — but instead of reading them for content, he’s added RFID tags to pull music stored locally on the Pico with a microSD card.
Coward is using vintage 8-track cartridges purchased off of eBay. To fix them up for the project, he designed some custom label artwork. The images were printed on sticker paper and carefully placed onto the cartridge with the RFID tags tucked underneath. This makes it possible to plug the cartridge in while triggering a custom audio selection on the Pico.
According to Coward, most of the internal hardware was removed to make room for the Pico and additional components. The original speaker is still inside and is used for audio output. An LCD screen was included and placed behind a window that originally displayed the track number. The plunger on top is actually a switch that, in this case, will cause the track to skip to the next one. Coward is also using the original volume knob. A couple of 18650 batteries keep the unit mobile.
All of the new hardware fits inside the original case, but a few custom 3D-printed parts were necessary to get everything to fit together neatly. Coward created a panel for the microSD card slot and USB-C port. A mount was devised to attach the LCD screen, RFID reader, and ElectroCookie prototyping PCB.
Coward programmed the software for the project from scratch. Coward explains in the project breakdown that he used Arduino IDE. A couple of libraries make everything possible, including one for the RFID reader and another called DFPlayer Mini. All of the code is available for anyone to explore on the official project page.
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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.