In case you missed the memo, Steampunk is IN. Inspired by stuff like the Mad Max movies, this subcultural blend of Victoriana retro and contemporary alt has been bubbling to the surface in all the chicest groups. So if you fancy the idea of concocting your very own Steampunk jukebox powered by Raspberry Pi, this nifty little project will be music to your ears.

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • A vintage radio (the older, the better) and associated bits
  • Raspberry Pi & Power supply
  • JustBoom AMP HAT
  • Latest Raspbian
  • Mopidy
  • Google Play Music

Find a radio

Before we start, a word to the wise: some old radios may contain asbestos, so please do your research and take advice before you start pulling things apart.

On with the show. We started by hunting through vintage shops until we discovered an ancient tube radio – an awesome piece of kit if ever we saw one. And one which gave our Steampunk project an authentic vibe from the get-go.

Gut it

We began by opening up the back and pulling out the main electronics guts of the thing, then we detached the base from the body.

Great, we now had the space to play with for inserting the Raspberry Pi and other bits and pieces.

Get your Pi ready

First, we took a Pi sized 60W amplifier with a built in high end DAC (JustBoom Amp HAT).

Install the software

Next we had to find an app to run the system. We choose the Mopidy Mobile. This extensible music server written in Python plays music from local disk, Spotify, SoundCloud, Google Play Music and more. You edit the playlist from your phone, tablet, or PC using a range of MPD and web clients. We wanted a nice simple interface – and this little beauty hit the right note. Once setup, you just enter the network addy of the system and you’re good to go.

Our first task was to install Raspbian Jessie. We’ve not upgraded to Stretch yet, but we have included some notes to help you if you go for the upgrade. You can also run Jessie Lite – this is for a headless operation. Setup SSH to run, and then login via a terminal. From there the bolded steps are the instructions and plain text the code.

Run the following commands from this document. You’ll need to edit the second line to Stretch.list if upgrading:


sudo wget -q -O – | sudo apt-key add –


sudo wget -q -O /etc/apt/sources.list.d/mopidy.list


sudo apt-get update


sudo apt-get install mopidy


sudo apt-get update


sudo apt-get dist-upgrade

Next, install Gmusic – Go here for the setup.

sudo pip install mopidy-gmusic #Do not give a Device ID, comment it out

This next line allows Google to talk to Gmusic, you also need to setup an app #password – go to this link first to set it up. Then run:

sudo pip install pyasn1==0.3.4

To set up the justboom amp, run the following:

sudo nano /boot/config.txt

Near the end you will see dtparam=audio=on under Enable audio #Comment out that line and add:






If you are upgrading to Stretch remove dtoverlay=i2s-mmap.

Now setup mopidy to run as a service #to enable mopidy to run as a service, see here

Run this command:

sudo systemctl enable mopidy

Then open /home/pi/.config/mopidy to edit the config file from

sudo nano /etc/mopidy/mopidy.conf

The next step covers the text changes required for the Configuration file.

Edit configs

Now we need to edit the configuration file to match our setup. To give you a helping hand, here’s our Sample Config File for you to check out. We’ve added square brackets [ ] around the text you’ll need to change, but it’s a good idea to refer to the setup instructions on for a better breakdown of what everything does.

You’ll also need to do stuff like configure your network, give the Pi a static IP address, and open ports 6600 and 6680. See your router user guide for more info there.

Now (fanfare of trumpets please) you should be able to test run the audio! Hopefully you’ll get an earful of beautiful music. But if all you hear is radio silence, you’ll have to go back and check your handiwork. If you get stuck, has some great information.

With our audio pumping up the volume, we now rolled up our sleeves to build the case.

Strip it

With our audio pumping up the volume, we now rolled up our sleeves to build the case.

The first step was to take the old tech innards we’d removed earlier and cut away all the existing components to leave a bare chassis.

We’d also decided to salvage as many components as possible for our new beast – including the sub-assembly used for switching channels by varying the positions of different capacitive plates.

Adding a touch of paint

Then it was time for a paint job. After all, attitude is what it’s all about for any self-respecting Steampunk fashionista. We plumped for gold for the main chassis, copper for some components and a flat and glossy black for everything else. Looking good…

Retro glow

Now came the really fun stuff. Simulated vacuum tubes. Mmm.

Even if we do say so ourselves, adding vacuum tube lighting was a stroke of genius. Amber LED lights on all the vacuum tubes gave us that gorgeous authentic vintage look.

It wasn’t too tricky to introduce these tubes either. We simply drilled holes into the bottom of the tubes where there was no pin, then drilled holes into the relevant spot in the tube socket.


From there we just popped-in a pre-wired LED, adding a dab of hot glue from the bottom. Done!

Case mods

Finishing off the case called for a bit of woodwork. For the face plates, we found some old pine, cut it to shape and added some cutouts to house the controls.

We then stained these a deep walnut colour.

We used some brass bolts coupled with washers and wingnuts for the speaker plates themselves to bring an industrial connector look.

The connection on the plates slotted between the washers themselves. We soldered-in the speaker wires and secured these on the opposite side of the wood by the bolt head.

Add some retro flare

Finally, we wired-in a voltage monitor using a rather handsome 1950s DC Voltmeter (burying an LED behind it to give a faint glow). Built onto the wood face plates, we held it in place with the same bolts as the speaker connectors.


We powered everything by a 24VDC brick that ran at 2.5A, splitting the AC into a 120VAC/4A switch wired to the front that allowed simple powering up of the entire system when energized.

One of the great things about the JustBoom Amp HAT is that it also powers the Pi when fed with right power. We split the 24VDC out from the AC Adapter, and ran two circuits. One went direct to the Pi input, and the other to the LED circuit.

The LED circuit is composed of 9 serial LEDs and one 330 ohm 1/2w resistor. Wiring an LED run up is a cinch, you just need to know the forward voltage drop for the LED and the total number you want, then plug it into this wizard here with the power supply voltage. Once wired, it’s just a matter of plugging it in and turning it on. Better be sure about your polarity though!


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