The legacy of the Squeezebox

This summer we renovated our bathroom. OK: we selected the pottery and most was done by people, who really know how to fix up a bathroom from the late 70’s. 😉

The craftspeople did their job well, but this post is not about their day-to-day business. Apart from a presence detector (to switch on the „orientation light“ instead of having the new LED spots getting you completely awake in the middle of the night) there was one more noteworthiness: the concealed speaker cable from the living room.

This cable was installed years ago, when I thought it was a good idea to spread the sound from the hi-fi system through the whole dwelling. (It actually is – while you are having a party.)

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Based on experience however, you don’t put on a proper record when taking a full bath, because your turntable doesn’t change sides automatically. In my case I used my Smartphone and my trusty old Logitech „mm28“ speakers.

The speakers were powered by batteries, because there was no wall socket at hand and the Phone regularly tried to get the music from our home server via WiFi, because what I wanted never was stored locally. (Our antenna is directional an does not point to this room, so reception hardly worked satisfiably.)

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Thinking about the renovation I tried to imagine where to put a Squeezebox.
We had one (a Squeezebox Radio) in the kitchen, which worked like charm – once our own media server was running (on a ProLiant G7 MicroServer). But I neither wanted to search eBay for some worn-out relic nor place a socket near the bathtub. And this would not have solved the signal strength issue either.

So the my next thought was putting a Squeezebox into the living room and using WiFi only to control it, while the speaker was in the bathroom.It took me a while to find the right device.

You can stream music from a network with a bunch of Google, Amazon or other products – but you always need an extra amp for that.
Luckily I came across the HiFi Berry Amp+. This was what I was looking for: a class D audio amplifier for a Raspberry Pi! And a RasPi definitely could become a Squeezebox.

As we were suspending the ceiling anyway we could also put the speaker there. A Canton InCeiling 445 speaker seemed to be good enough.

What I did not expect, however, was that those swiss guys would really pay customs. (Or let DHL do it.) Seems I got too used to chinese eBayers declaring everything a sample, gift and so on (well: HiFi Berry actually announce paying duty). Should have ordered domestically (from Watterott). But those fees are peanuts compared to the whole renovation anyway…

The RasPi in the proper bundle is a Mk 3 (with WiFi and BT 4.0, including „low energy“). An older version would have done the job, but I can swap them later if necessary. The Meanwell GS60A18-P1J power supply may be overkill, but in an audio application you want a clean and stable voltage – and this specific model was tested by the developers. So there is no alternative for me.
The amp is well made (as you would expect from the Swiss).

The laser cut acrylic case is a bit more of a challenge – but you get instructions on the „Watterott Case“ on the HiFi Berry homepage and in the end the whole thing even seems to be poka yoke. The only really annoying parts were the plastic spacers, which did not fit in length and thread.

After acquiring some shorter metal spacers with M2.5 threads things looked much more nicely. (I have to say: I did not complain about this to the manufacturer – maybe it was a mistake at packing or they already put this annoyance down. I don’t know – this was easier for me.)

To make a „headless Squeezebox“ you need the piCorePlayer. Like other RasPi stuff it works out of the box, once the SD-card has been conditioned properly (on a Windows machine with the Win32 Disk Imager). Just configure it once via the web interface and then use Squeezer to control it via Android. (Or just DLNA on-board stuff, like my wife on her Samsung GT-I9195.)

Connecting everything in the living room was a piece of cake, as I already had envisaged a box to connect all the concealed speaker cables. And the built-in cupboard was later constructed around it by the carpenter.

The drywall ceiling in the bathroom was a greater challenge, but still manageable.

The best thing about this part: all my work was later smoothed over by the tiler and the painter, so it looks really nice. ^^

…but none of this would have been possible, if the whole Squeezebox would not be Open Source!

Look at http://wiki.slimdevices.com/index.php/Main_Page: it lives. You get linked from the Logitech Squeezebox Controller App to Remote control apps for Android, which mentions Squeezer.

Visit http://forums.slimdevices.com/forumdisplay.php?27-Logitech-Media-Server and download the latest „Logitech Media Server“ – it is still being maintained.

Look at http://hackaday.com/tag/squeezebox/ in general or specifically http://www.emmaanuel.com/SqueezeBerry-a-Music-Player-based-on-Raspberry-and-Squeezebox what can be done with Open Source devices.

I don’t care what Sonos does – if I want to expand the whole system I can do it like Cédric Locqueneux here: http://www.thingiverse.com/thing:892473
Even in 10 years from now – if RasPi-compatible amps are still available then. (And if not I coud just solder my own. 😉 )

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