RogerBW's Blog

World Service Pi 11 November 2016

My wife likes to listen to the radio at night. But Radio 4 is getting increasingly annoying (even I notice this; I don't listen to the speech, but I do pick up the vocal intonations, which over the last couple of years have become increasingly aggressive even when the subject is not one that would seem to deserve it) and the World Service is preferred.

So the obvious thing to do would be to re-tune the radio. But the BBC broadcasts the World Service to the UK on analogue radio only between 1am and 5.20am. It's available on DAB (in places where that works, of which this isn't one), and on various cabled television services (which we don't have). Fortunately it's also available live on iPlayer.

So like many things in my life this is a job for a Raspberry Pi. Quite a basic one, in this case: all it needs to do is connect to the house 802.11 network, and run get_iplayer (a current version, to fetch the live World Service stream) and mpv to decode and play that stream.

Operating instructions: plug in, wait 35 seconds, adjust volume on the speakers plugged into the Pi's headphone socket. Yes, I could add a touch-screen to allow channel changes, listening to music off the house server, and so on, but that would add complexity; and touch-screens aren't ideal for using beside the bed anyway. If I could get a nice clicky knob and a USB encoder for it it might be another matter.

As far as I'm concerned, this is how Internet of Things devices should work: the only outside service it relies on is iPlayer live streaming, and if that gets broken by the BBC the hardware can be used for something else instead. (And yes, its software gets updated along with all the other Linux machines here.)


  1. Posted by Dave Denholm at 10:40am on 14 November 2016

    I think I have a spare IR receiver IC if you want it (and if I can remember where I hid it). Connects directly to 3 GPIO pins, then a LIRC driver does all the work of decoding signals from any old remote control.

  2. Posted by RogerBW at 10:42am on 14 November 2016

    Thanks - might well be worth having a play with that.

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