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I'm Andrew. I write about the past and future of tech, music, media, culture, art, and activism. This is my blog.

A Radio Link to the Past

Posted: December 16, 2017

Recently, I set up an Internet Radio Station featuring music from Archive.Org’s Great 78 project. While putting that together, it occured to me that a few of my relatives would absolutely adore a way to experience this music, but the quirks of media streaming seem to have left most of them behind. So, for the Holidays this year, I decided to make some Radios. Well, not Radios, but something Radio adjacent. A little box that endlessly loops through 5000+ songs from Archive.org’s Great 78 Project, while being simple enough for even the least technologically inclined members of my family to figure it out.

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I just finished the first one, built around this little hickydoo from Amazon which has a MicroSD card slot. It sounds pretty great, and is easy enough to use that I feel comfortable giving these to the grandparents. Plus, it’s got that neat 60s Braun\early 00s Apple industrial design to it, which makes it really feel like an artifact of a bygone era.

The one I recieved is a little different from the picture. (Mine has gold trim instead of silver. It does not say YouMoon on the top, but does in the small blank section at the bottom-middle of the faceplate.) Otherwise, it’s as pictured. I’m pleased with it, and I’m about to order 4 or 5 more.

Pros:

  • Cheap
  • Easy to set up (just load the files on the microSD card)
  • Does not hum while it’s being charged (a surprisingly common problem among devices of this nature)
  • Sound pretty good, especially considering the price and size

Cons:

  • Does not support shuffle
  • Pressing the volume buttons acts as next/previous track. Holding the volume buttons adjusts the volume. This might be confusing to the targeted audience
  • Plays the songs in the order they were coppied on to the SD Card, with no way to modify this behavior
  • A little smaller than I’d like

Remaining Questions:

  • Does it support playlists? If it does, I can include three or four playlist files at the beginning of the SD Card with all of the files shuffles there.
  • Will it work reliably for many months? We’ll find out, I’m sure.
  • Will anyone actually use it? I hope so, but we’ll find out next weekend!

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