Ryan McDonough

Founder, Sometime Artist

CFO and co-founder @Accompany, acquired by @Cisco. Turnaround CFO @Ning, sold to Glam Media. Former seed VC. McKinsey trained. @Wharton School and @Haas School of Business.



Retro Radio Upgrade

LEGO just released this beautiful little retro radio kit (June 2024), complete with a sound brick, but I realized it could be made even better with an embedded Internet radio complete with dual tinny 3W speakers & onboard battery. Not to be outdone, I decided to also make a custom Walkman version with its own MP3 player.

LEGO Retro Radio+ and companion walkman

Relive 1970s Transistor Radio Glory With Its Accompanying 1980s Style-Walkman. This beautiful LEGO Retro Radio kit needed a little something… a fully functional Internet radio with 3W of tinny stereo goodness.


Best of Both Worlds: Kit + Kit Bashing: For the main radio, I used the kit with only a few minor internal edits (removed phone holder, changed a few of the locations of protruding items, etc.) to make the battery fit, etc. I tend to build a set as-is when first experimenting before trying a second kit for adding electronics. In this case, I had a full separate kit that I decided to resize to make the Walkman. Only a few non-kit parts were used, including the headphones from a LEGO-clone company off Amazon and some 90 degree angle pieces.

Bill of Materials

Using the legacy 32-bit version of the Raspberry Pi Desktop, I was able to easily follow the Pimoroni install script:

git clone https://github.com/pimoroni/pirate-audio
cd pirate-audio/mopidy
sudo ./install.sh

For controlling the current playlist, you connect via browser using Modipy’s Iris web interface. Note, the Spotify interface no longer works, but I am currently investigating ways to have the speakers show up as a Spotify Connect speaker.

LEGO Retro Radio: From the ICONS Collection #10334
Headphones & Tape Parts: ENJBRICK Music Player (link)
Pirate Audio 3W Stereo Amp for Raspberry Pi: Pimoroni DAC with Push Fit Connectors (link)
Raspberry Pi Zero 2 W: With SD Card sized for music you want to store locally (link)
GPIO Hammer Header (Solderless) – Male + Female + Installation Jig Pimoroni (link)
Battery Pack + Cables + Mounting Screws + Velcro 3M Strips
Walkman based on the Retro Radio Kit + an MP3 player that with an external speaker accessible via the back of the walkman