June 2013—June 2015

This is a project about physical, radio and bbc.

A project to inspire new ideas for radio

My team in BBC R&D needed a way to prototype internet-enabled media experiences in the familiar physical form that's in all homes, the radio. We wanted to be able to build these experiences quickly so we could show them to our audiences and get feedback.

Radiodan hardware case

What it is

Radiodan is:

  • a set of open source software components for controlling media playback on unix-type devices;
  • an open source physical, lasercut case designed by Victor Johansson
  • an approach to using postcards and stickers to help people think about features for radio


The initial version of radiodan was written by Dan Nuttall in Ruby. We found some limitations with everything happening in a single Ruby process and so we set about writing a new version in node.js. We paired on the core server architecture that runs in it's own process and communicates to the prototype application via a message bus and client library.

I worked on the physical UI layer. A set of buttons and dials connected to the Pi's GPIO pins to enable physical interaction. This included prototyping a circuit layout that was turned into a custom PCB.

To showcase the types of radio you can build, we made the "Magic Button" radio with a user-customisable physical button that could avoid a track or programme, or announce what station you were listening to. The radio also has a rich web-based remote control that I built.


The project is ongoing and being used to make several internal prototypes.

Dan and I gave a talk about the project at Solid 2014, San Francisco.

I gave a similar talk at Music Tech Fest 2014, London.