Introduction: Raspberry Pirate Radio

Picture of Raspberry Pirate Radio

I've been looking around on Instructables but haven't been able to find a good Raspberry Pi Radio. So, with the inspration from Make: Raspberry PiRate Radio, i have decided to make one with their program. This is the first Instructable I've made, so please bear with me. All you need is an afternoon, a raspberry Pi, a radio receiver,a few extra tools and you will soon have your very own radio.

Step 1: Getting Things Together.

Picture of Getting Things Together.

Before we get started, we need to get some things. Here are the parts:

  • A Raspberry Pi
  • A SD card With no less than 4 GB (mine was a Micro SD with an adapter)
  • Wire Strippers
  • About 1' 12 AWG wire (I used 14 AWG, but 12 is better)
  • A Female pin
  • Network cable
  • Soldering Iron and Solder
  • Heat Shrink Tubing (But you can use Electrical Tape)
  • Optional: Helping Hands

You will also need a computer, a radio, and a few programs. But I'll get back to those.

**WARNING** If you want to use any of the images from NOOB's or ever want to use the raspberry pi for anyting other than a radio station, USE A DIFFERENT SD CARD. Don't use the one you've put all your time into because it will replace all data on the sd card.


Step 2: Preparing the SD Card.

Picture of Preparing the SD Card.

First we need to download the image, here. This may take a while, so lets get the other programs. We need to download and install Win32DiskImager, and WinSCP. After the image has downloaded, unzip the file and move it to the desktop. Put the SD card into the computer. Open the diskimager and select the correct Device and file. When looking for the file, make sure to change it from *.img to *.*. Then press write, and wait. Once done, eject SD Card and put it in the Raspberry Pi.

Step 3: Put Songs on the Card.

Picture of Put Songs on the Card.

Connect the network cable to the RPI and to your router or modem and power it on. Open WinSCP. For Host Name, put the IP Address; for both username and password use "root". Once logged-in, go to the root folder, and open a folder called "pirateradio". Drag all the songs you want into this file. After, open a file called "pirateradio.config" and change the settings to your liking. Save the changes, an close that program.

Step 4: Make the Antenna.

Picture of Make the Antenna.

Solder the wire to the female pin. This is easier with a Helping Hand. You should insulate the joint with heat shrink, but I didn't have any. This needs to be plugged into GPIO4 or Pin 7.

Step 5: Listen

Picture of Listen

Reconnect the power, tune the radio to your channel, and wait. It will take about a minute for the Raspberry Pi to start broadcasting, you should hear the static go away, then, the music will start playing. It's that easy.

Please support by voting, and thanks for reading.


nikhils311 (author)2015-10-10

Does it work with b+

frankjsklar (author)nikhils3112016-11-21


HerbertD7 (author)2016-04-13


I have a Raspberry 3 and I do not get it to work. Does it work wth a Pi3?


frankjsklar (author)HerbertD72016-11-21

As cited in the precious comment I made, no. It only works on the Pi1 Model A

MatúšP1 (author)HerbertD72016-09-26

I think that the Raspberry Pi 2 and 3 are almost the same. 3 only has WiFi and Bluetooth chip diodes and moved elsewhere and has a processor with support of 64-bit instructions. The problem will probably be in the processor.

MatúšP1 (author)MatúšP12016-09-26

yes, and sorry for my bad english.

RobertsS (author)HerbertD72016-07-05

i was wondering this question also

musi09 (author)RobertsS2016-09-03

I am also wondering if anyone got it to work. Been messing around and have no found anything to make it work. :/

nikhils311 (author)2015-10-10

does the project works same with raspberry pi 2 modB?Please tell me as soon as possible!

naruichia (author)nikhils3112016-04-01

yes it does, this project will work on any RPi

frankjsklar (author)naruichia2016-11-21

You are very very wrong. It does NOT work on anything other than the very old Pi 1 model A. I found out the hard way.

Popc2 (author)2016-03-30

Whenever I try to type "root" in the username and password it says access denied. I put the IP address in and I don't think there is any problem with that so I think that's alright but still not sure. Thank you to those who reply and are able to help me fix it :)

NiallM5 (author)2016-02-03

when i flash the new os i dont get the same file system as i get three files on is the radio file one is the program that lets it launch other things as if it where a radio station and thats it, no subdirs or config files, the problem im having is that it is playing to that frequency as i get pure silence but it wont play any of my mp3s, suggestions?

vijayprasad534 (author)2016-01-28

the piradio file got corrupted the os is not working.

BenH51 (author)2015-10-19

will this work with regular speaker wire or is the 14 AWG neccassary?

jaybraxmaier (author)2015-04-22

Whats is the IP address? is there some sort of default?

dj505Gaming (author)jaybraxmaier2015-08-30

It's the IP address of your computer. If you're running Windows, open the command prompt and type "ipconfig" without the quotation marks. Scroll down until you find "192.168.X.X" the X represents the last digits of the IP) for example

DanM37 (author)2015-08-27

That'sa nice project, but anyone knows if it is possible to put some text that can appear on the radio? Thanks!

moussaprince (author)2015-06-15

Hey, I was wondering how to write a program which finds the clearest FM frequency. Please see question details here:

I really need that for a project!

WilliamP1 (author)2015-04-19


If you use an 88-108 bandpass filter between the RPi and the antenna you won't be 'as' illegal. (Available from MiniCircuits)

jimvandamme (author)WilliamP12015-04-24

It would be cheaper (and much less illegal)to use an FM broadcaster from the dollar store. Also, they're stereo. Nothing like pure sine waves to make a modulated radio signal.

devicemodder (author)WilliamP12015-04-20

ok, thanks. i was just letting people know to be careful. :-)

devicemodder (author)2015-04-15

Just keep off 121.5 MHz as that is the Avation emergency Distress frequency. the pi can easily go from 1MHz to 250MHz so just a word of caution.

stoobers (author)devicemodder2015-04-19

i think the issue isn't what frequency you set it to, it is that you get harmonics on other frequencies, and you don't know what to look for to trap the unwanted noise.

devicemodder (author)stoobers2015-04-20

see my lower comment about harmonics.

devicemodder (author)2015-04-15

You do not want to be using this as a long term, stationary FM
transmitter. If any of your signals interfere with air traffic control,
emergency services (police, ambulance), etc they will come looking for
your signal and ultimately you. Looking at a spectrum analyzer with a
frequency of 88.7MHz there are harmonics all across the VHF band.
Centering on 121.5MHZ, your aviation band emergency frequency, there are
harmonics and intermod products all through aviation VHF band
(118-136MHz,) and VHF navaids (108-117MHz). If you use this you will
splash onto these frequencies. If nobody complains, nobody will come
looking for the signal. If this does interfere with aircraft, I
guarantee you someone, (FAA in US, Industry Canada in CA) will come by
with a DF and find you and you can be charged. Use with caution.

sail4sea (author)devicemodder2015-04-19

I built and demoed this in a hotel basement. I did not use an antenna after first testing this in my apartment. Don't use an antenna and you will be fine.

At my apartment, it lost range at about 100 ft without the antenna and I only played it about 30 seconds at a time. Too much for FCC rules, but not enough to draw complaints. I am sure aircraft fly higher than 100 feet.

devicemodder (author)sail4sea2015-04-20

I am just letting you know. also don't amplify the signal. that will really turn some heads.

JRV31 (author)devicemodder2015-04-16

Good point, I was think about experimenting with this. I live very close to the airport. The harmonics you listed are dangerous.

perfo (author)2015-04-20

I forgot to say...I like the idea. Thanks for the ible...

perfo (author)2015-04-20

Ask a silly question maybe but is this using a square wave as a carrier (well the fundamental frequency of the square wave) ? If so it will be wasting a lot of power transmitting at several other frequencies simultaneously.

toby7 (author)2015-04-19

So many people have already done this!

LP700-4 (author)2015-04-19

Could you please maybe make a tutorial video on how to put flash the image file to the sd card because when I do it and I insert the sd card in to my Pi it would not work.

JonelB (author)2015-04-19

Initial thought: make for a convention, see how far the signal goes and if you can get it broadcast con info.

Secondary thought: Put the radio stations from Fallout on it.

gouravgarg007 (author)2015-04-15

it does not work for raspberry pi 2

olegsh (author)gouravgarg0072015-04-19

I wasn't able to make it work on Raspberry Pi 2 either.

groper1 (author)2015-04-17

And you elaborated further on what they said. Thank you!

groper1 (author)2015-04-17

This was on the make website

EvolvedAwesome (author)2015-04-15

Very Nice! The FCC are gonna love this :3

so are the airports.

jhandskemager (author)2015-04-15

will it work with b+ ????

It should, you just need to look up the gpio pinout to find gpio pin 4 just be sure to stay away from the frequency i mentioned above.

manstrom (author)2015-04-14

A better antenna is far more cost effective than trying to just boost power. With a 3 db gain antenna you've effectively doubled your effective radiated power with a lot less effort than required to double your output power itself. That's how you get amateur radio operators talking globally with minimal power (other factors come into play but thats not in the scope of discussion) just some food for thought.

I'll throw together some 'ibles on antenna design when I get the chance.

ncosta4 (author)2015-04-14

is it possible to use it like a walkitalky or something else?

mudassar butt (author)2015-03-22

max area covered by this transmitter..??

NCMaker (author)mudassar butt2015-03-22

While it was inside, mine only got about a half-mile radius. Although, you can put an op amp and a larger antenna, but be careful not to interfere with regular radio stations. Also, as stated in the instructables, don't get in trouble with the FCC or any other communications agency.

rpotts2 (author)2015-02-26

wait. so I don't need an amp or anything? just make a wire transmit antenna?

NCMaker (author)rpotts22015-02-26

Yes, thats all you need. But if you want to transmit for longer distances, which i do not recomend, I suppose you can put it through a amp or have a bigger antenna.

tomatoskins (author)2015-02-26

This is great! I've never thought to use a Raspberry Pi to do this before.

About This Instructable




Bio: High school student who started the first stem club in our county.
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