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How-to: AirPlay on a vintage vinyl player

Recently, I bought a vintage record player that can also play radio and contains an “aux” port. I added airplay to it so I can play music form my phone wirelessly.

Concept

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As you might already know, I really enjoy adding wireless technology into devices that were not designed to have it (see How I added WiFi to my coffee machine). Last time I managed to get a great looking record player from the 70s, which can play either a vinyl, the FM radio or get sounds from an input source. This is the part that interests me (the aux source), I’m planning on putting a raspberry pi in the player that will allow me to use the player as an AirPlay source.

Tear down

The first step is to open the player and see what we’re dealing with.

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Hmm… old electronics smell
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the aux/tape connectors on the rear of the player
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underneath the vinyl platform

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Find a power source for the Raspberry Pi

The most important part is to get a reliable 5V power source that I can plug into the Raspberry Pi – I do have some DC-DC converters that would allow me to use a power input from roughly 5V to 30V.

First attempt

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Look at that! isn’t it perfect? it’s labelled and everything – looks like it will be easier than expected. I tested the voltage and the 12V line sounds nice and flat. Sounds too good to be true.

Well, it was too good to be true. The line is only activated when the radio FM input source is selected in the player. So it’s kinda useless.

Attempt 2

I started probing for DC voltage on different points on the mainboard, and found 24V on a shunt:

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I soldered a wire and connected my Pi. Problem is that I was not able to draw enough current from it to get the pi working correctly.

At this point I was running out of options, so I decided to just get the power from the AC plug on the back.

Attempt 3: success!

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Using my trusted AC-DC converters, I gave consistent 5V power input for the Pi. finally.

Re-route the aux line to the Raspberry Pi

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Everything is labelled on the PCB, awesome!
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Soldered a 3.5mm jack and tested the line with my phone – it works!

Bring the raspberry pi!

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setting up raspbian
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the WiFi usb adapter (bottom)
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External USB sound card, the sound coming from the pi is quite terrible
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Finding out where we’ll put the components

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I followed the tutorial here to install AirPlay on the Pi, using “shairport-sync” instead of “shairport”, as it is still actively developed and generally more reliable.

Fixing up status lights

When I got the player, the two status lights were not working, so I thought I’d replace them with LEDs

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Old 11v light bulb
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Resistor and LED replacement
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looking good
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Looking very good

Final assembly

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the Raspberry Pi in the middle, the sound card on the top right.
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Neat cable arrangement
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sound card secured with zip ties
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view from underneath. I tried to design the layout in a way that I could remove the SD card easily by removing the back cover if necessary.
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Working great! and the player looks just like before

 

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5 Comments

  1. stvnjay stvnjay

    Nice job! Are you happy with how it’s working? Also, what brand of USB sound card did you use? I’m looking to do something similar to my girlfriend’s vintage turntable.

    • Benoit Dumas Benoit Dumas

      Hi there,

      it’s working great! Though the process on the pi tends to not be extremely stable, it crashes from time to time.

      The sound card is a cheap Chinese one, you can find tons on Aliexpress for dirt cheap.

      Right now I’m considering changing most of the inner electronics to install a modern amplifier and bluetooth, I’m looking forward to starting the project.

      What about you? did you start on your project for your girlfriend?

      Cheers,
      Benoit

      • stvnjay stvnjay

        Hi Benoit,

        Thanks for the additional info. After researching the options, I decided to buy a bluetooth streaming adapter and connected it to her ancient stereo:

        http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B016NUTG5K

        She really likes the convenience and the sound quality. Next I’m trying to convince her to let me take apart the console and replace the 8-track tapedeck with the bluetooth.

        Regards,
        Steve

  2. Rene Rene

    Nice blog, really love this kind of modifications/additions.
    For your next version you might consider getting a PlainDAC or PlainAMP from polyvections. It’s a €9,- and tiny I2S DAC which can connect directly to the RasPi and sounds great.
    I am using the PlainAMP myself which also has an integrated 2x20W amplifier. Costs a bit more but sounds great as well.
    Good luck, would love to see your next projects!

    • Benoit Dumas Benoit Dumas

      Oh, that’s *very* interesting. I think I’ll get myself one! I’ll tell you how it goes 🙂

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