News & Analysis

Global reach: DesignSpark project tunes into the internet

28th July 2020
Mick Elliott

RadioGlobe, an open-source DesignSpark engineering project that features a real globe as its user interface has been released by RS Components.

By turning the globe, users can tune into internet radio stations from around the world.

RadioGlobe has been designed and released in collaboration with well-known British technologist and inventor, Jude Pullen.

The project was commissioned to celebrate the 10th anniversary of DesignSpark and the release of the latest DesignSpark Mechanical Version 5.0 software, with the goal of enabling human connection through technology.

Jude Pullen commented: “The idea behind RadioGlobe came from RS Components’ roots in supplying spare parts to radio repair shops, which led me to think about how we could make the radio experience more modern in a hyper-connected world using both physical components and digital technology. I think that DesignSpark and other maker communities will love this project, as it is open source and will therefore evolve with a truly global input of creativity and talent. It's been amazing fun to develop, and it's both fascinating and humbling to explore over 2000 channels of music, discourse and culture.”

Working remotely from his shed in London during the COVID-19 lockdown, but still connected through DesignSpark with other members of the community, this inspiring project has echoes of RS’ business origins, which started in a lock-up garage in north west London in 1937 as RadioSpares.

Jude and his extended engineering team designed RadioGlobe using RS’ free-to-download DesignSpark Mechanical and DesignSpark PCB software and used 3D printing technology for the construction.

A Raspberry Pi 4 module interfacing to two high-precision rotary encoders track the longitude and latitude of locators positioned over the globe.

This enables the Raspberry Pi to tune into an internet radio station transmitting from any global position. Music fans simply hover on a location to select any of the thousands of music radio stations available globally.

Designed in the UK from the perspective of the Northern Hemisphere, the angle of the globe has been changed from the standard 23.5 degrees to 30 degrees to display a greater percentage of the Southern Hemisphere, thus improving the user experience for music lovers from every part of the world.

Pete Wood, Head of Partnerships and Services at DesignSpark, said: “Over the past 10 years we have worked with the DesignSpark community to create many exciting engineering projects using DesignSpark software. With his RadioGlobe design, Jude has really captured the essence of what we continually strive to achieve at RS, to inform and inspire engineers all over the world and across all generations.”

The DesignSpark RadioGlobe is an open source project, available for anyone to re-create and re-model.

All of the CAD files and code are available on the DesignSpark website and GitHub in various formats, along with a bill of materials listing all the products required for the build.

A step-by-step tutorial guide is also provided.

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