‘80s-Style Music Player Combines VFD Displays with Raspberry Pi Streaming

Redditor GuzziGuy misses “1980s-style HiFi systems with flashing lights, knobs, etc.” Instead of just ignoring this impulse, however, he “decided to make one that looked/worked exactly as [he] wanted.”

The device uses a Raspberry Pi 3 running Mopidy to stream both locally stored music and Internet radio. A Behringer UCA202 USB audio interface along with a TPA3116 amp are implemented to actually pump out the tunes. The UCA202 includes an audio passthrough, which can play from other audio sources, e.g. GuzziGuy’s computer.

While music playback with a Pi is nothing new, the main attraction for this custom amp/streaming system is that it uses VFD displays for both song info and frequency response. Although the VU meter only reveals sound output as one channel, peak levels for the left and right are indicated by an LED bar graph. The info display comes in the form of a 256×64 Futaba VFD unit, which took some significant software work to implement as there were no ready-made libraries available. These components reportedly resembled OLEDs, but with a nicer glow in normal light.

The build itself is very professional looking, and features various user interface buttons, as well as volume and graphic equalizer sliders. You can find more images and short video clips via the project’s Imgur set.

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Author: Jeremy S. Cook

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