Raspberry Pi Radio

Raspberry Pi or the RBPi, the tiny credit card sized single board computer is so affordable that people can easily create single purpose appliances around it. For example, just by adding a small LCD that has a few buttons and a USB wireless network adapter, you can build a self-contained music streamer around the RBPi. This you can move around to any room of the house. The only extra items you need to connect to it are power and speakers or headphones.

Use the Adafruit LCD kit that has a keyboard along with an RBPi. You can select from several versions of the LCD kit: RGB negative backlight, the RGB positive or the more affordable Blue and White. For this kit, you must be prepared for some assembly and soldering. Although the RBPi can be any model, A or B, you will need a 4GB or larger SD memory card. You may use any mobile phone charger, but the charger cable must be compatible with the USB Micro-B connector on the RBPi.

You may connect headphones or amplified speakers to the audio output of the RBPi. Alternately, connect it to the A/V setup in your living room. To connect to the internet, you will require a USB Wi-Fi adapter compatible with the RBPi and of course, an existing wireless network and a working Pandora account. If you have wired Ethernet, you could use that with the RBPi Model B, but that will reduce the convenience of wireless. Finally, you will need a suitable enclosure – one that offers full access to the top of the RBPi board.

You will also need some temporary items only for setting up. These can be removed and do not need to remain permanently attached. To communicate with the RBPi, you will need a monitor and keyboard. Additionally, you may possibly require a powered USB hub, a soldering iron and some solder for assembling the LCD keypad kit.

The Linux OS available for the RBPi has several flavors. For this project, the recommended distribution is the Raspbian Wheezy (official distribution) or Occidentalis (from Adafruit). You may also use any of the other stock distributions along with additional software. Download the OS, uncompress the ZIP file and follow this link to install the OS onto the SD card.

Start by formatting the SD card as a FAT32 file-system and install the OS on it. Next, solder the LCD Pi Plate following this tutorial. House the RBPi in its case. Also, set up a free Pandora account and select your favorite stations.

Once your SD card is populated with the OS of your choice, connect a USB keyboard and a monitor to your RBPi. Insert the SD card in its slot and connect the Micro-B USB cable to the power connector on the RBPi. The other end of the USB cable you can plug into the mobile phone charger, a powered USB hub or simply to the USB port of your computer.

Once you successfully power up the RBPi and navigated past the initial UNIX stuff, you can follow the instructions presented here for the rest of the project.