By Peter Kent timetogoclocks.com
I like to make things but am not very handy. Also my coding skills fall somewhere on the spectrum between lamentable and laughable.
For these reasons, I have to choose my projects carefully. Which is to say I need someone else to have already done the heavy lifting of fabrication and software development. Turning a 1990’s era Dualit Four-Slice toaster into a Raspberry Pi-based Google Assistant and internet radio was right in my sweet spot. Very Red Dwarf!
Why not just buy a Google Home or Amazon Alexa, you ask? Too easy! Also while many people seem to have no issues talking to a plastic speaker, I prefer to speak to a beautifully sculptured chunk of metal that also makes toast (NB. some care and electrical expertise is required here to avoid burning down your house).
The Google Assistant SDK allows easy deployment of the Assistant to a Raspberry Pi, and there are many tutorials on Youtube and elsewhere if further assistance is required.
What makes the Dualit ideal for this project (aside from iconic design status) is that it has plenty of unused real estate inside – room aplenty to stuff a Pi 3B, mini digital amp, OLED display, speakers, power supplies, and assorted other gubbins. If you prefer, you can omit much of this and output a line-level or Bluetooth signal to external components. The ends of the Dualit are aluminium, so easy to work with for the minor alterations necessary.
Of course, you can ask the Assistant to play the radio but I wanted dedicated physical controls – and a station indicator display. I had to write a bit more custom code for this side of the project but nothing outside my spectrum.
From Hackspace Issue #03 – Feb.2018