This DIY project turns an iPod into a click wheel-powered Spotify player

Classic iPods have their fans, but they’re not built for the modern age of music streaming — except for this one, which has been turned into a Spotify player by tinkerer Guy Dupont. While it may look like an iPod from the outside, inside, it’s got a Raspberry Pi loaded with software custom-built by Dupont to interface with Spotify, while still keeping the classic iPod style. He calls it the sPot.

In a video showing off the project and the process behind it, Dupont says he was inspired when his mother-in-law gifted him the old iPod. In a Hackaday post, he says he “had forgotten how good it feels to hold and use one of these things,” but he wanted to update it with some modern features, including (obviously) Spotify streaming, Bluetooth audio, and search. That’s right, the device can search the entirety of Spotify’s library and stream it.

We don’t need an iTunes library where we’re going. GIF by Guy Dupont

Dupont put a Raspberry Pi Zero W inside the iPod because Spotify requires an internet connection — something most iPods don’t support. It also allows for the custom interface and Bluetooth audio. The sPot also needs a larger battery to power the Pi, but all of the hardware still fits inside the original iPod case.

iPod on the outside… Photo by Guy Dupont …all custom on the inside. Photo by Guy Dupont

Dupont was able to keep the scroll wheel interface — and he even managed to improve it. There’s now haptic feedback when scrolling, instead of just the audible click. But while many of the original buttons are present, they haven’t all been as faithfully preserved as the click wheel has.

The hold switch now controls the power, instead of locking the iPod to prevent pocket-scrolling. And while the headphone jack is still there, it no longer does anything (RIP to a real one), as audio output is handled by Bluetooth. It also ditches the original 30-pin connector for an easier-to-find-in-2021 Micro USB port that handles charging.

The headphone jack is now just for decoration. Photo by Guy Dupont Gif of Dupont using the scroll wheel to navigate his custom interface That beautiful scroll wheel action. GIF by Guy Dupont

If you wanted to make one of these yourself, Dupont has posted all of the code you’ll need on GitHub. He also created a Hackaday page detailing the other software that’s needed to get Spotify working.

If you’re like me and are wishing for your own sPot, the video should give you pretty much all you need to get started. Doing the quickest of searches for the parts he’s listed, the project will cost around $100, plus the price of the iPod if you don’t already have one. But even if you have no desire to make one of these, the video is totally worth a watch just to experience the glory of what a modern iPod could look like and to see this really cool project come together.

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