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Travel the world with a retro musical phone

Reading Time: 3 minutes

This rotary phone features a built-in Raspberry Pi that communicates with radiooooo.com (a musical time machine) and an Arduino working behind the map to control the selection of the country. Just pick up the phone, choose a country and a decade, and listen to some great music!

How does it work?

The Raspberry Pi:

  • Plays music through radiooooo.com
  • Detects when the handset is picked up/put down
  • Detects the numbers that are dialled in

The Arduino:

  • Detects which country is selected on the map (via jack connectors)
  • Sends the info to the Raspberry Pi over serial

We saw this project on hackster.io and loved how maker Caroline Buttet dug into the finer detail of an old-fashioned rotary phone’s pick-up/put-down mechanism, as well as how the phone knows which numbers you’re dialling. She goes into more detail about that aspect in the second build video, above.

An audio jack being plugged into a world map mounted on a board

Some countries have a jack pin – this is how you select the music

Other bits you’ll need

As well as a Raspberry Pi 4 and Arduino UNO, you’ll need a world map (obviously) and something to mount it on which can be drilled into. This is because the jack pins you can see in the image above need to poke out of different countries.

Caroline’s grandma donated the old rotary phone she used for this project. You should be able to pick one up from a second-hand shop or, if you can get a new handset made in the retro style online.

The shopping list for this build also includes: jumper wires; audio/video cable assembly; LED, breadboard; jack socket 3-pin; resistors

A simplified visual representation of how everything works

In her original post, Caroline explains in detail how to connect the rotary phone’s switches to the pins on your Raspberry Pi, how to build in audio sockets on the board you glue your map to, how to run the necessary Python script from the command line, and what a Chrome extension to use to make radiooooo.com work with your Raspberry Pi.

The Raspberry Pi inside the rotary phone

And yes, Caroline is one of those most magical of makers who deposits all the code needed for this build on GitHub!

And here’s the Arduino mounted onto the back of the map, with the audio jacks taped up to the holes drilled into different countries

Website: LINK

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