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Build your own wireless music player

Build your own wireless music player

Do-it-yourself wireless networked music player for less than half the cost of a retail model, and with (potentially) more features.
It’s a problem many of us are familiar with. We have an extensive music library on our computers and iPods/portable music players, and we would like to listen to it at home, but our computers are too far from the stereo, or the rest of the family wants to listen to music while you go out with your iPod. Or perhaps you’d like to listen to Shoutcast radio stations on your stereo at home (something portable music players are at the moment largely incapable of).

When I began this project, I knew I could not settle for anything less than:

A small, low-power networked music player, which Runs Linux, and Can connect either wirelessly or wiredly, that Supports MP3, OGG, and FLAC at a minimum, and Accepts commands remotely from a PC or PDA, in addition to Displaying song info such as Artist/Title on a display local to the device.

Leveraging an old PC for the task was out of the question, as I had no spare PCs to toy with, and in general PCs are loud power hogs if you aren’t buying specifically for quietude and power economy (and that drives the prices up).

Once again I turn to an old friend of an operating system, OpenWrt, only this time on a new hardware platform, the excellent Netgear WGT634U. Unfortunately Netgear has discontinued this router because of the flaky software they wrote for it (or other business reasons). Luckily this means that refurbished WGT634U units go for about $40 (or they did, until supply ran out just a few days before this article was published). (UPDATE: seems to get them in and out of stock sometimes) What’s so great about these routers is that they have a USB 2.0 port on the back, allowing connection of any number of accessories, the most important of which in this case is the generic USB audio device.

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