Introduction: U-WAVE Internet Radio

About: Finlay Page is a Creative Designer that focuses on a fusion of People, Design and Technology to achieve practical and beautiful design outcomes. He has a passion for creating and working with a range of materi…

Create a functional and simple internet radio that can be controlled from anywhere in your house as well as sound amazing. Using Raspberry Pi you can create an internet radio for your home for a fraction of the price of buying one! As seen at MozFest 2015!

Uwave was a joint project by both myself (Finlay) and Sylvester (SylvesterSweeneypd). We are both University of Dundee masters students and wanted to take open source instructables to a new level with the Uwave radio.
If you are interested in more work by us here is a link to both our personal sites:

In order to build the U-WAVE internet radio you will need a few things. But remember, it’s always good to add a personal touch!

Parts/Materials list

  • Wi-Fi Dongle x 2
  • 3.5 Inch Touch Screen x1
  • Raspberry Pi (B+ onwards) x 2
  • 100mm 26 Pin Extension x 1
  • Micro SD Card (Class 4 or above, 5 GB or above) x 2
  • Micro USB Power Cable (5v, 1A) x 2
  • 5 inch Speaker x 1
  • Amplifier x 1
  • USB Extension x 2
  • Male to Female HDMI Extension x 2
  • 4mm MDF (A2) x 2
  • 2mm MDF (A3) x 1
  • Hardwood Veneer (A2) x 2
  • 6mm Acrylic (A3) x 1
  • 10mm Diameter Magnet x 4
  • 4mm Nut and Bolt with Washer x 4
  • Roughly 1 meter of wire

Kit Needed during the build

  • Computer
  • Keyboard
  • Mouse
  • Large HDMI enabled screen/monitor
  • A Wi-Fi network to connect to
  • Access to a laser cutter
  • Soldering iron and solder
  • De-soldering pump
  • HDMI Cable
  • PVA Wood Glue
  • High Strength Bonding Glue
  • Glue Gun
  • Electric Drill (4mm Drill Bit)
  • Masking Tape

Step 1: Downloading the OS

For this step you will need:

  • 2 x Raspberry Pi
  • 2 x Micro USB Power Cable
  • 2 x Micro SD Cards
  • 2 x Wi-Fi Dongles
  • 1 x Eternal HMDI Enabled Screen
  • 1 x Keyboard
  • 1 x Mouse
  • 1 x Computer
  • 1 x HDMI Cable

Raspberry Pi is a small desktop computer. Just like any other computer you might have used, it needs an Operating System (OS) to function. If you buy a PC in the shop it will come pre-loaded with many software packages such as a media player and maybe even Microsoft Office. The most important thing it comes with however is its operating system (eg: Windows XP). The Raspberry Pi rarely comes with an OS and so we must firstly download one. There are many OS’s out there and they all preform many different functions, the systems we will use are called Raspian and Musicbox.

First thing to do before we start to download anything is to set up the Raspberry Pi for use. The Raspberry Pi uses a single Micro SD card in place of the hard-drive your regular computer has. Before we install anything to the “hard-drive” we can assemble the physical system we are going to use. Please see the image below to see how the Pi should be set up or

follow this link to an online resource:

Many tutorials on how to build internet radios will use OS’s like Musicbox, Volumio and Music Player Daemon. These are all great systems however they all need an external interface to operate them. This means you must control the radio from your smartphone or computer screen. In this tutorial we will use this feature as well as establish an interface on the radio itself. For this we need two Raspberry Pis, working in sync, with two different OS.

  • The first OS is called Raspian we will install this onto Raspberry Pi 1
  • The second OS is called Musicbox we will install this onto Raspberry Pi 2

The first thing we must do is to download NOOBS (New-Out-Of-the-Box-Software) onto Raspberry Pi 1. NOOBS is the most basic download OS and it runs using Raspian. Raspian can be set up just like a desktop computer and so it is a great system to run our interface. The setup for NOOBS was very similar to how you would set your new laptop up and resulted at a fairly similar endpoint, a desktop with icons (as seen below). This is great, however the only way to access an internet radio station using this OS was to actually search for the website that hosts the station and select it. This is a dull and laborious task that we can cut out by simply implementing a new OS.

Follow this link to download and set up NOOBS:

TOP TIP: you must allow install the drivers for your touch screen! These can be found on the operations CD you will get with your touchscreen purchase.

The second OS that we will install to Raspberry Pi 2, Musicbox is unlike Raspian, its purpose is to act as a server not a Personal Computer. Musicbox is downloaded into the Raspberry Pi the exact same way as NOOBS however it’s set up is much different. When the system is turned on it will asks you to log in with its pre-set password and login (see below), the password and login can be changed after the system as booted up. The Raspberry Pi then becomes a music server that Strems music of your choice from the internet. Musicbox like I stated earlier has a neat trick, it can be controlled via an external device, as long as said device is connected to the same IP address. So I you control the music that the Pi is playing, from my IPhone, in another room.


Login: Musicbox

Follow this link to download and set up Musicbox:

Step 2: Choosing Your Radio Stations

The Musicbox interface has a vast array of complicated drop-down menus that can confuse and make the whole experience of using your radio difficult, especially if you are only using a 3.5 inch screen. Because of this it is a good idea to just choose a few radio stations that you listen to the most. We chose six:

  1. BBC Radio 2
  2. BBC Radio 4
  3. BBC Radio 1
  4. Heart FM
  5. Capital FM
  6. Absolute 80’s

It is entirely up to yourself what stations you choose. In the next section we will develop a way of changing the already existing Musicbox interface into a more simple and accessible one.

  • It is not essential to do this stage if you would prefer to leave the Musicbox Interface as is.

Step 3: Developing an Interface

There are two ways that you can construct your interface. You can either download an extension for your web browser, for example chrome uses CJS (custom java script). This involves you physically altering the content of the webpage itself by hiding specific components. Think of the original Musicbox interface, it have potentially thousands of “avenues” to go down, we want to hide all but 6. Once you have only six components present you need to alter them. To do this you have to copy the image you want to act as the hyperlink directly on top of the “avenue” after this modification is active, you should have a finished display. This interface however is only present on the machine that you have modified. This means that top gain access to the interface you much use that machine.

We wanted everyone to be able to access our 6 radio station interface. This takes us to the second way of altering the interface. This method involves physically altering the files within the raspberry Pis Linux system. First we searched for the Nomad files within the Raspberry Pis Linux system and altered them to only present 6 features (our 6 radio stations) much like in the first process. The new system is still using many of the original Nomad system characteristics, we merely modified it. The resulting effect means that anyone from any device can access our radio remotely, giving them access to the interface without any modifications to they own device.

To locate the files on your Raspberry Pi simply install the application mlocate:

Sudo apt-get install mlocate
Sudo updatedb

Then use

Locate my_filename.a

Step 4: Laser Cutting the Radio Body

For this step you will need:

  • Computer
  • Laser cutter
  • 1mm Hardwood Veneer (A2)
  • 4mm MDF (A2)
  • 6mm Acrylic (A3)
  • 2mm MDF (A3)

A nicely designed finish is an important part of any project. In this section we will go through the process of laser cutting the radio body.

The first thing we must do is download the illustrator files available attached to this step. Once downloaded open the files on a computer of your choice, the files are already sized and are ready to be directly printed onto a piece of material. The files are labelled with their corresponding material. Also remember to cut out two Raspberry Pi cases, to house both of them.

(If you are using a Digital Fabrication suit you will most likely need to download these files onto a portable USB device to attach to the Suites laser cutter linked computer).

Once you have the files, set up your laser cutter: if you do not know how to do this please get assistance from someone that does. Health and safety first!

Laser cutter top tips!

  • Always make sure the laser is the correct distance from the material.
  • Make sure to set the lasers power and speed setting appropriately.
  • Make sure the lasers compressor, beam and extraction are all on before cutting.
  • Always add a small box incision at the edge of the material to check if its cut all the way through.
  • Don’t rush; several passes are better than a burnt piece.
  • Always Tape your material down to the laser bed

Once the pieces have been successfully cut-out, remove them from the laser cutter and store them away safely.

Step 5: Build the Raspberry Pi Cases

For this step you will need:

  • Glue Gun
  • PVA Wood Glue

In this section we will build two casings for the Raspberry Pis. This will allow us to remove the Raspberry Pis freely from the radio as well as allow us to have them securely positioned inside.

First of all before build the cases we have to bond a piece of the radio body. This piece is important for the next session and can be left to dry while we build the Raspberry Pi cases.

Take the two long body pieces (see images) and bond them together using the PVA Wood Glue, making sure you bond the correct end to the correct end. Now take the 90mm x 140mm piece you cut earlier and bond it over the edge joint you have just created (make sure you bond the piece to the correct side, shown in the images) . This will give the joint the necessary strength to hold its shape. Finally attach the 20mm x 140mm piece half way over the far edge of the body piece. We will use this part to bond the other edge together later.

While the body piece is drying we can go ahead and build the Raspberry Pi cases. Take the 2mm MDF components that you cut earlier and assemble them together. Make sure to put the pieces in the right place, we recommend you use a raspberry pi as template and make sure that the pieces are together correctly before you use glue. The pieces should slip together to create a lightweight but solid box. Use the glue gun to attach the components together making sure not to allow the glue to build up to much, if this happens you may experience difficulty getting the raspberry Pi to fit inside. The reason we are using a glue gun here is because the bond is almost instant but also allows for a degree of flex.

Once you have built two cases you are ready to move on to the next stage.

Step 6: Fitting the Electronics

For this step you will need:

  • Wi-Fi Dongle x 2
  • 3.5 Inch Touch Screen x1
  • Raspberry Pi x 2
  • 100mm 26 Pin Extension x 1
  • Micro USB Power Cable x 2
  • 5 inch Speaker x 1
  • Amplifier x 1
  • USB Extension x 2
  • Male to Female HDMI Extension x 2
  • Soldering iron and solder
  • De-soldering pump
  • Electric Drill (4mm Drill Bit)
  • Glue Gun
  • PVA Wood Glue

In this stage we will fit all the electronics to the radio body. Fitting the electronics involves us extending some of the wires and so we will need to use a soldering iron and a de-soldering pump.

This step is entirely up to you own perception as understandably the both of us may not have used the same electronic kit. You could have used a different LCD screen or a different amp, the kit you used doesn't really matter. In this section we will describe how we did it, using the kit we have suggested.

First take the long radio body piece you glue in the last step and place it in front of you. Now take each piece of electronic kit, including the two Raspberry Pis (now located in there MDF boxes) and place them on the Body piece as shown below.

As you can see from the image above, we have deconstructed the amp and extended some of the wires. As we wish to have the on/off switch and the volume on the outside of the radio this is a necessary task. We did this by de-soldering some of the components using our soldering iron and de-solder pump. We then re-soldered the pieces to wires that we had been able to measure to length using the flattened radio body as a guide. Measuring the correct length to cut your wires to will allow for a much neater interior for your radio. The wires where then reattached to the amp board and tested. Once we had successfully extended all the components we desired we could move on.

Step 7: Building the Radio Sides

For this step you will need:

  • 10mm Diameter Magnet x 4
  • Glue gun

In this step we will complete the radio sides; they will act as doors into the radios inner body. So far we have laser cut both the acrylic and MDF parts of the sides. We must now install the magnets that will hold them together as well as veneer the MDF section.

First find both your acrylic side frame and MDF side panels; you should have two of each as well as the sectioned side panel that was cut along with the MDF side panels (we will call this piece the Magnet Housing) please see images below if you are struggling to recognise this piece. The only other piece you will need is the Veneer side panels. In the image above you can see the finished radio side; this is what we are aiming for. The radio side consists of an acrylic side frame, a MDF side panel, the magnet housing and two pieces of veneer. You will need all these components twice, as there are two sides to build.

Now that we have all the components necessary we can start to build. First take the magnet housing and glue it to the acrylic side panel using a strong adhesive, the result should be as seen below. After that take the newly constructed parts and the MDF side panels and place the magnets into the holes seen below. Glue these magnets in using the glue gun, making sure the magnets are in the correct way, we want the magnets to attract one another not repel!

Once the magnets are in you can start to think about the veneer. We need to veneer both sides of the side panel as well as the front facing part of the magnet housing. By doing this we will hide the magnets as well as make the radio more attractive. The finished parts can be seen below:

If you are feeling up to it you can try many different variations of the sides using different material and colours, after all it is your radio. there are some example within the images attached to this step.

Step 8: Putting It All Together

In this step you will need:

  • PVA wood Glue
  • High Strength Bonding Glue

In this step we will put all the parts we have built together. By this stage you should have your two side pieces with functioning magnets and all your electronics fitted onto, a flat, radio body with everything wired up neatly.

We will now attach these three pieces together. The first part we will bond is the radio body using PVA Wood Glue. Put the piece together to form the shape below, clamp the piece together tightly as there will be a lot of tension in the piece. Once the piece is dry you can now glue the side frames in using High Strength Glue this will product the radios final form. Always make sure you are taping the piece tightly to create an effective bond that is void of gaps.

After the three parts are bonded you will almost have you completed radio. The last step is veneering the radio body itself.

Step 9: Veneering the Radio Body

For this step you will need:

  • PVA Wood Glue
  • Masking Tape

We can now apply the final touches by gluing the veneer to the radio body. Before we can glue anything to the radio body we must first masking tape over the LCD screen and remove the speaker. By doing this we will leave the radio body’s face clear of any components and will protect the screen. Before we start to veneer it’s always best to get the space you intend to use prepared. Find a wet rag, so you can wipe up any glue that is left behind and make sure you have your masking tape to keep the veneer in place as it glues.

Firstly apply glue all over the veneer and then slowly place it onto the radio body. Using your masking tape, secure the veneer in place as the glue dries. There is no rush, it always better to take your time when apply the final touches. Once the glue dries, carefully cut off the excess veneer.

Well done, that’s the radio ready to be put on the shelves! Or on the kitchen counter… wherever you decide really. If you feel like it, in the next step we will go over some further finishing that we did to our radio.

Step 10: (Optional) Finishing Techniques

For this step you will need:

  • Anything you want!

In this step we will go over some of the other finishing techniques we used to complete our radio.

Spray Painting: we were unhappy with the fact that the laser cut edges of the radio body could be seen. This resulted in a muddy residue from the laser cutter, being visible. We decided to spray paint the edges with a Matt Black Spray Paint. Firstly we covered all the radio except the edges with masking tape, protecting the radio from any paint related damage. The result was effective and also made the edges blend in with the black acrylic side frames we had used.

Finishing Wax: preserving ones radio is always on the mind of the creative. By simply applying a wax finish to the hardwood veneer we knew that the radios colour would last longer and smell great! We used a simple everyday furniture wax and applied is using a lint free cloth. After 10 minutes we then rubbed the wax off again leaving our radio with a nice polished finish.

Installing a Gromit and a USB Hub: you will have noticed that during this tutorial we haven’t gone over power cables. The power situation for your radio will most likely differ from ours, and so there was no need for us to waste your time going into it. Alas, we will explain it now: as in our radio we needed a power cable for two Pis, and an amp we decided to imply a USB hub. The USB hub only needs one power cable to power it and we could attach all our other cables directly too it. Kind of like an extension cable that as hidden inside the radio body. This meant that in the end we only needed to have one cable leaving the radio body. We designed and 3D printed a small Gromit to hold the wires in nicely and to cover the hole we had drilled in order for the power cable to escape.

Step 11: Finished Radio!

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