For some people, music festivals aren’t just fun weekend distractions, they’re a way of life. If you are one of those people, you have undoubtedly been very disappointed this year. Thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic, virtually all music festivals and concerts have been canceled. That includes popular, long-running annual festivals like the Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival in Tennessee. Guy Dupont has attended Bonnaroo for the last five years and was sad that it was cancelled this year. To recreate the experience, he made The Bonnaroo Jukebox to play music from last year’s event.
The Bonnaroo Jukebox is built into a vintage General Electric alarm clock radio — the kind that adorned virtually every nightstand in the ‘80s and early ‘90s. Using the various controls built into the radio, the user can select the day, stage, and artist set to listen to. The corresponding recording will then start playing through the speaker. Dupont has even added static sound effects to make it feel like the radio is actually being tuned to an FM station. Even if you’re not a Bonnaroo fan yourself, this same concept can be adapted to fit just about any other music festival that you can get access to audio for.
Dupont didn’t have to design an entire enclosure, because he started with the vintage radio. But he did use a Shaper Origin router to create a new faceplate and a Cricut Maker vinyl cutter to fabricate decals and labels to suit the new purpose. Everything is controlled by an Adafruit Feather M4 Express development board, with a handful of MCP23017 IO expanders. Those were mostly necessary for controlling the LED displays. The audio files are stored on an SD card and played through a DFPlayer Mini board. The M4 Express monitors the various controls and uses that information to determine which sound clip the DFPlayerMini should play. It obviously can’t compare to the experience of actually being at Bonnaroo, but this device can at least help ease the pain through the pandemic.