I totally love my Sonos system.
The Sonos players are expensive but they are worth every penny and i haven't regretted any of my Sonos purchases for a minute.
There's one thing missing though ... hardware buttons!
Even as a smartphone or tablet to control your appliances is perfect (remember 2009?), sometimes you just don't have your smartphone ready at hand and you find yourself hunting for your smartphone to control your Sonos.
Yes, each Sonos has some hardware buttons, but they are only used to play/pause the current song, or to adjust the volume of that particular player.
I'm a big fan of old tube-based radio's. If they are not too far gone they get repaired, otherwise they just look cool.
One particular little radio-bugger was beyond salvation and received another purpose: controlling the Sonos with some presets, volume and play/pause with its old-school tactile click-clack buttons.
very incognito. looks like a radio, no?
On the inside the buttons are wired to a little Arduino.
When you press a button or turn the volume knob, one of the digital or analog inputs of the Arduino is activated, allowing you to define a resulting action in software.
There's a little WiShield attached to the Arduino allowing it to communicate over wifi with other devices.
Although it's possible to talk to the Sonos devices directly using the UPnP protocol, it's easier to use a some sort of middleware like the excellent Sonos Http Client by Jimmy Shimizu .
The WiShield is rather old in terms of IT-gadget-age and its libraries are not compatible with the current generation of Arduino IDE.
I had to patch them a little to make them work on Arduino 1.x and up. You can find my fork here.
The little Arduino sketch that controls everything is also on my GitHub.
A little status led completes the setup, giving some feedback on your actions.
With the radio buttons i can now activate the 5 presets we use the most, change the volume of the grouped sonos speakers and pause/play everything.
The presets are currently 3 radio stations (Studio Brussel, Radio 1, Radio Nostalgie), the Spotify favourite list (starred tracks) and a random Spotify playlist.
Due to some wonderful coincident the labels of the buttons also EXACTLY match the preset they trigger:
The concept is a bit hard to explain to people who don't have a wireless speaker system.
Most of the time they just stare blankly and go
"Uhm ... so you've build a radio that you can use to ehm ... turn on the radio? ... Ok ... cool ..."
Just like software controllers as Ableton Live end up up creating matching hardware controllers with LOTS of buttons, let's hope this is the start of a trend.
There's nothing like the feeling of pressing a big chunky button down and make it go *CLACK* , far more satisfying than using the non-tactile buttons of a touchscreen controller ... .
Hmm, I still have this thing somewhere in my garage ... what still needs controlling?