Interface old stereo to media machine?

Hi folks

A mixed hw/sw issue, I posted here but could be in hw too.

I am considering building a media PC, but the cases for such are stupidly priced. So I am thinking of building one in a 70s stereo case. I can't post a pic yet, will do that in next post so you can see what I mean.

So my question is, could I use Arduino to make some of the front controls functional.

It would be a case of connecting one of the pots on the front to the Arduino, then somehow using that to send a control message to the computer. Ideally I'd like the media machine to be running Linux (Ubuntu or a variant I think) using Xbox Media Centre as a front end. I could use Windows but I'd really prefer not to, and i think XBMC is a stunning piece of software.

I guess the key thing to control would be volume, though if i could somehow make use of some others that would be good, like power on/off.

Basically is this achievable? I am an enterprising geek though not a coder, but I can get help from more code orientated geeks if i need it.

Thanks in advance!

Stereo like this pic perhaps.

But probably one with less external controls.

Yes, it is possible. Connecting all the potentiometers, rotary switches and toggles is possible. If you have too many of them, you might need a little extra hardware to multiplex them, but nothing drastic.

The tough part is going to send the data to your media center. Perfect for this is to have your circuit appear to your PC as a HID (Human Interface Device), which is a fancy name uniting keyboard, mice and joysticks. Then you won't need any drivers and whatever you push, pull or turn will just be yet another key-event. Unfortunately, the Arduino doesn't offer such an USB interface in Hardware like some other platforms, so you will have to emulate this. For your needs, a solution like vusb might be good enough.


So I am thinking of building one in a 70s stereo case.

Something to keep in mind when you are building this:

Verify that the system you are planning to gut isn't considered a collectible. There's nothing worse than finding out you spent $10.00 at a thrift store, on something worth $2000.00 to a collector - after you have gutted it.

This applies to everything older than about 25 years of age (it can vary based on item and manufacturer).


This applies to everything older than about 25 years of age (it can vary based on item and manufacturer).

I'll second that. The 'golden' era for hi-fi equipment is mostly from the 70s. I spend about 10 years doing the thrift store hunt thing looking for this kind of equipment, found a lot and flipped most on E-bay but keeping the best for myself. However these days the pickings are rather slim as the value of this vintage equipment became more known. The equipment back then was built like battelships and not that hard to repair of restore. Of course it's all about the specific manufacure and model as to value. A quick search on E-bay can give you an idea of value. Audiokarma Home Audio Stereo Discussion Forums is a great site to get information on this subject.


Thanks folks! I will look into the v-usb idea as well, as I can see making it an HID will be massively simpler in this case.

In terms of the box, i was going to look for broken/spares n repairs ones. I also have a friend with a very knackered pioneer amp. I'll be careful not to to kill a valuable relic though. :slight_smile:

I'll be careful to to kill a valuable relic though.

Seems like a real shame. >:(

Aaaaarrrgh, edited, not what I meant. :-[