A $6 Digital Radio

This DIY radio was made using an old ESP8266 and a VS1053 decoder.

Cabe Atwell
3 months agoSensors

Mike Diamond of WhatIMade.Today wanted to recreate Jean-Pierre Cocatrix’s KaRadio Wi-Fi Webradio build but had difficulty following along with the English translations, as they were originally in Russian. It’s understandable, and sometimes it’s not easy to follow along with a translation that can eschew what the original author is trying to convey in another language.

That said, engineers always find a way to bridge those gaps, and that’s what Diamond did when he compiled an easier-to-read English version of Cocatrix’s incredible project, which uses the same hardware and software. Following Diamond's example, it’s best to give credit to the original creation with links to Cocatrix’s original Hackaday page, his GitHub entry, and his Instructables walkthrough.

For his recreation, Diamond used an ESP8266-based NodeMCU v3 CH340 Lua WiFi IoT development board with integrated USB port and onboard antenna ($1.41 to $2.41 on AliExpress), although he states the ESP8266 ESP-12 ESP12 WeMos D1 Mini Module ($.60 to $2.05 on AliExpress) will work just as well. Diamond paired the NodeMCU with a ZucZug VS1053 MP3 decoder module ($4.27 on AliExpress), which isn’t equipped with an amplifier to power external speakers, only a 3.5mm headphone jack.

It should be noted that Diamond uses a Mac over a PC, and had difficulty trying to flash the software needed to drive the digital radio. He explains, “I've flashed hundreds of ESPs — but always using the Arduino IDE. The problem is, from what I can see, the programmers only provide binary files, and they are much more complicated to flash to an ESP8266 using the Arduino IDE.”

To help him overcome the issue, he used pySerial, pip, and the esptool-master to get the radio up and running. Those interested in how Diamond recreated Cocatrix’s KaRadio, he has uploaded an extensive walkthrough on his WhatIMade.Today project page linked above.

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