Project Melodia

I converted an old Soviet radio into a smart speaker with custom software featuring music visualization, app control, and more.

I have always found the design of Soviet-era consumer electronics special. They can still be spotted all over post-Soviet countries, whether at a home of a very hospitable grandma or a hip cafe. With schools like Vkhutemas being comparable to Bauhaus, the artists and designers of the USSR do deserve some recognition.

I was also curious about was bringing new life to old gadgets. I came across a 1985 radio produced in Minsk called Okean 214 at a local flea market. I found its form factor and controls to be perfect for a little speaker project I had in mind. And so, as part of my Dale summer grant, "Project Melodia" was born.

Basically, I took a vintage Soviet radio, completely revamped the insides of it, added an LED screen and new speakers, and then coded some software to make the volume knobs, the speaker, and the screen all work together.

Some Technicalities

I am using a Raspberry Pi, some rotary encoders, an LED matrix to turn this mighty somewhat-broken radio into a smart speaker with Spotify Connect, fun little light effects, and a web app-based control interface. Some of these parts I had lying around already, so this also gave me a chance to reuse old electronics and not let them go to waste.

I have been able to get everything wired up and connect to Spotify as well as control the lights and the sound with the knobs. In the future, I am planning on adding a more complete Spotify integration (hoping to pixelate the cover art!) and a bunch of eye-candy whenever I interact with the speaker (like displaying the current volume on the LED screen when I try to change it). You can find the repo of the current project here.

If you want to learn more about the current state of the project or want to collaborate, get in touch!