Henrik Carlsson's Blog

New plan instead of the now abandoned NoPodcastvember: I’ll switch from Overcast to Castro.

The idea is to still listen to podcasts but to train myself into being more conscious of what I’m listening to on an episode basis, rather than a show basis. If a show generally makes me annoyed but occasionally talks about things I care about I’ll just skip every single episode that isn’t clearly about the things I care about.

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Today my mom and Lars picked up the kids from preschool and will be in our house with them until tomorrow while Linn and I are at a hotel and spa. A very well-deserved break for us.

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@burk Exciting! What are you going to use it for?

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This is just an obligatory post to keep my streak going. It feels like things at work have been a complete chaos for the past few weeks, so I’m so tired that I can’t really think straight.

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So after four hours of work, in more or less a panic, after a regular eight hour workday – turn’s out the latest version of Avid MediaComposer installs an AMA plugin that completely f*s up Pro Tools ability to play video. I hate computers.

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My kids have just found what I can only describe as weaponized children’s entertainment: a ”I am a Gummy Bear” meets ”Baby Shark” video.

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Today I broke NoPodcastvember. I just had to listen to a podcast to quite my mind a bit.

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And once again I managed to stay up way too late. The Raspberry Pi is just so much fun that I never want to go to bed.

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Tonight I managed to sit down and experiment with the GPIOs of the Raspberry Pi. I think I’m getting the hang of how they work now but I gotta say, this is the first thing I’m doing with the Pi where I feel like it lacks a lot compared to the Arduino.

Anyway, I got some basic buttons working. Tomorrow, or whenever I sit down with it again, I’ll give the level potentiometer a go again.

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@burk Happy anniversary!

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Iris hasn’t quite gotten the hang of playing Super Mario before, but yesterday it seemed to just click for her.

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I really should have gone to bed an hour or two ago, because I’m unbelievably tired. Instead, I got stuck trying to make 303 like patterns and sounds with Ableton Live.

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@jack What cool looking phone is that?

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Today was twelve hours straight of practical exams at work, so now I’m completely drained. I’ve been sitting in an an armchair, being a YouTube watching zombie for the past hour.

Time to go to bed.

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Everything I was supposed to do at work today took a whole lot more time than it should, so I didn’t have the time to get a 3D printing going. I think I need to wait until next week.

Also, the breadboard stuff that I ordered earlier arrived today! :)

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Hurray! I’ve made my first 3D model (or is it sketch?) in Fusion360. It’s a clone of an IKEA phone stand because it seemed like just the right amount (“lagom “) of challenge.

Tomorrow I’ll try to 3D print it!

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@hollyhoneychurch I’m listening to Labyrinth now and I’m completely spellbound by it. Great job! Thanks for sharing this with the world.

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The plan right now is to 3D print a sort of beta enclosure for the πFi Music Player. Maybe the final product will have an enclosure built out of wood and/or metal, so maybe this is just a temporary solution but it at least gives me something less brittle than a couple of Lego bricks to hold it together while I experiment with it.

We have a 3D printer at work that I can use but I’ve never 3D printed anything, nor have I 3D modelled anything so I have quite some learning to do.

A friend recommended that I’d use Fusion360 because it’s a very capable program that’s also free for academics. I downloaded and opened it, and quickly closed it again because it felt like something completely alien to me.

The same friend then recommended this tutorial on Fusion360 to get started, and while I haven’t applied what I saw in it yet at least it feels like I now know somewhat where to start.

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Tonight I tried to get the volume control working for the πFi. I followed a guide on how to make it, but I failed miserably. I’m still not sure what it is that isn’t working, and that’s the problem.

I have zero prior experience with using the GPIO’s of the Raspberry Pi, and using them while using the HiFiBerry makes it even more complicated so I need to rethink this.

I’m going to place an order for a proper break-out board for the GPIO and some additional components to be able to breadboard and try things out, and I’ll need to put the physical controls part of the project on hold until that has been delivered.

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Time for an experiment. November will NoPodcastvember. I’ve just deleted Overcast, so let’s see if this works.

On a related note, does anyone have any suggestions for great audio books app? Apps for playing back files that is, not subscription services for audiobooks.

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🔗 LOVE HULTÉN

Now this is some truly awesome stuff! Hand built, somewhat retro/retro futuristic looking arcades, game consoles and synths.

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Soldering a bit to see if I can get the Pi to read the changes in the potentiometer and use it as a volume control.

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All Saints Day candles.

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I’ve started dabbling with amixer and alsamixer for the PiFi’s volume control. Seems fairly simple. Next, I need to make a physical volume control.

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@sirshannon I had forgotten about that title card. Now I need to rewatch Blade Runner this month.

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@Zak Thank you so much for saying that!

I got so little reactions when I first showed the πiFi to some friends and family yesterday and it bummed me out.

So again, thank you! :)

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@Burk Cool looking!

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The πFi Music Player

Every project needs a name and I need to stop referring to the music player I’m building as "The Kid’s Music Player". So, the project name is from now on The πiFi Music Player or πFi for short.

The basic idea is to replicate the very kid friendly1 way of listening to music that a cassette player or CD player was back when I was a kid. Today we can all access pretty much every piece of music ever recorded but to do so you pretty much have to have a smart device of some kind and be able to read and write to find what you are looking for.2

To do this I’m building a device that scans pieces of cardboard with QR codes on them and then uses the information on the QR code to playback the correct track, album or artist from Spotify. (Local play might also be a feature.) The side of the "music card" that doesn’t have a QR code will have album art or similar to make it easy to identify to both adults and kids.

I currently have a soon to be alpha in my hands (or on my bookshelf). I’m using a Raspberry Pi with Mopidy for the playback, a Raspberry Pi Camera module and zbarcam to scan the QR codes, a Python script to actually do something with the information in the QR and then a HiFiBerry Amp2 to DA convert and amplify the audio for a pair of passive speakers.

As you can see in the video the physical/crafty side of the project has a lot of work that needs to be done. I’m currently using some LEGO to keep things in place, but I need a proper enclosure. I’m not 100% sure whether I’ll make something out of wood, metal or whether I’ll 3D print something unapologetically plastic. 3D printing seems like a good idea because it simplifies making more than one device, which I’m planning to do. However, I’m never 3D printed anything. Nor have I built a 3D model of anything, so I’ll have some homework.

Even more important before it can be considered even an alpha is a volume control. Right now, the only way to control the volume is to SSH into the Pi and use mpc volume XX where XX is the percentage of volume I want. Because the amplifier is 2x 30 Watts, it’s quite loud in a normal home setting. As I’m listening while typing now I have it set for 7% volume.

The WAF of SSHing into something to change it’s volume from ear-piercingly loud to tolerable is very low.3

I also think it need some kinds of physical controls, at least for play/pause, stop and next track. Right now those functions are also accessed via QR codes.

Before moving it into beta I also need to build speakers. I have borrowed the ones I’m using now from a friend. I might also build a proper power supply for it, instead of using the wall wart that I use now.

Many things are still uncertain and there are so much I need to learn how to do, but I am really happy to have started this project, and that I actually got back to it after having left it dormant for three mounts.

If you want to follow along everything will be published here on the blog. I’ll try to remember to tag all the posts with πiFi Music Player.


  1. Or "non techy person" friendly.  ↩

  2. Yes, I am aware of "smart speakers", ladies in cans and "AHOY TELEPHONE". Here’s some reasons why that’s not a solution here.  ↩

  3. Yes, "Wife Acceptance Factor" is probably a very problematic term these days. I think we should try to change it to "PAF – Partner(s) Acceptance Factor". The idea itself, that something that appeals to a nerdy person doesn’t necessarily appeal to the other person(s) living with the nerd, still has merits and is worth considering when building and/or purchasing something like this. Regardless of the gender and/or pronoun of the nerd and the other person(s) involved.  ↩

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It works!

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@Burk You, sir, are making a bold stride for science. 🙃

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Time to test the HiFiBerry as well.

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The Raspberry Pi Camera module does seem to work for the music player, but it did cause me some headaches initially.

The first problem I encountered seemed to stem from a sloppy physical installation of the camera. Once I removed it from the Pi and inserted it back in, it worked.

The second problem seems to be that by default the camera cropped the sensor data, so the QR code couldn’t be read as close to the camera as I wanted. Adding --prescale=640x480 as and argument to zbarcam appears to have solved the problem.

Tomorrow I’ll try using the HiFi Berry Amp2 as well.

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@Burk Thanks for the advice. I was planning to start putting things up this past weekend but I just didn’t have the time or energy for it. But today we finally carved a pumpkin and started putting up some decorations.

I always want to make a big deal of Halloween but then when it rolls around it’s always apparent that this is (in Sweden) the shitty part of the year where I have zero energy for anything.

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@Burk As long as you blog about the journey, I’m happy regardless.

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@hollyhoneychurch I saw some review of The Boys and thought it sounded terrible but maybe it’s something I should reconsider and put on my list.

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It appears that I was quite good at documenting my work on the music player, so I’m up and running again now.

Previously I’ve used an old USB webcam (actually a PlayStation eyeToy Camera) as the scanner and it has worked fine. However I wanted something different in the long run, so yesterday I bought a camera module for the Raspberry Pi.

The main thing I’m doing tonight, apart from getting back to where I were, is to test whether this particular camera works or not. So far it has not been plug and play but maybe it was foolish of me to expect that. As I’m writing this I’m doing a apt-get update and apt-get upgrade and then I’ll have to do some configuration in raspi-config.

Also, I’m starting to get reaaaaaaally tired so I’ll probably call it a night pretty soon. I blame daylight savings time.

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Linn and I finished watching Stranger Things Seasons 2 and 3 yesterday and since we don’t have any other show queued up, now seems like a good time to resume my work on a music player for the kids.

Right now I’m mostly trying to figure out how far I got the last time I worked on it.

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❤️ Plastpåsepopulism råder

Problemet är att varje sådan här välmenande men verkningslös symbolåtgärd gör risken större att folk inte går med på de svårare och viktigare klimatåtgärderna.

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@alcedine Is it The Killers that are that loud?

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So I guess I’d very much like any recommendations of easy to use shopping list apps where I can also share lists with Linn.

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