Skip to main content


Note* I will keep this project updated along with the others on the projects Github here

I have always loved a good jukebox, I found it would make or break a good pub here in the UK. Sadly they’ve become quite a rarity now with the likes of streaming services such as Spotify. The Vinyl Frontier is a 3rd in a series of STEM projects we designed for participants to engage with in association with special events at Goonhilly Earth Station in Cornwall.

The Vinyl Frontier project uses tactile behaviour to bring back the joy of playing music with open source technology that you can build yourself. The use cases I’ve found for this would be great in a social environment such as party or pub where you pick up coasters printed with your favourite album/song/genre of music and place them on the box much more fun than sharing a screen or hassling the person controlling the music to put some music on.

The project uses a Raspberry PI micro computer and some easily accessible off the shelf components to read NFC tags (the same technology you find on tap and pay services in your phone) The tags trigger the Raspberry PI to play audio files, web streams, podcasts, YouTube playlists or your favourite Spotify streams and playlists. The raspberry PI uses some brilliant open source software called Phoniebox which is a web based application that runs on the PI.

Phoniebox operates on the PI and in the cloud as a webserver so you can access all the controls and settings via your laptop or phone once setup which omits the need for a screen to be connected to the PI.

I have made this particular use case to be totally wireless by using a Bluetooth module and onboard rechargeable LIPO battery – but using your imagination a number of use cases can be applied.

Out of the case showing the parts


The parts I used above were a case of trial and error to fit into the wooden box that I used here

There are many ways of delivering this project and I think getting creative with its presentation and housing is the fun thing. You could effectively house this in all sorts of boxes, old Hi-Fi equipment and even an old irreparable Jukebox that would be really cool!


1. This project relies on the brilliant open source If you are looking for the latest stable version, use the install script for Raspberry Pi OS Stretch. There is a brilliant tutorial here. I advise following it closely as I couldn’t write it better

2. I struggled to get the Spotify version working due to lack of time and am currently using MP3/WAV files – would be grateful on any assistance but believe that Phoniebox 3.0 might make this easier

3. Ensure you follow the particular thread for installing the PN532 Hat. You can run a test on the install here

4. I used headphones to test the that everything was setup before adding the Bluetooth module (this should work straight out of the box via the PI headphone jack as it converts that signal into Bluetooth) I found this less complex than changing the audio output settings on the PI

5. Once you have a working example its now time to add the audio files via the web browser. Navigate to the IP address that your PI is on – I logged on to my router and could see the pi was on an address that looked like 192.168.1.*** Navigate the the ‘Folders/Files’ and upload your audio files

You will now need to link the coasters or whatever it is you are going to use (old cassettes would be fun) with the audio files using the NFC tags. I found that i needed to use the larger 38mm diameter ones to send a strong enough signal through the glass lid. Navigate to the Card/ID tab in the web browser tab and pass the tag over the reader, this should display the tag number in the text box. Simply link the tag to the audio file in the dropdown and your box is ready to play with.

Enjoy the Music


1. Please help to get Spotify working