Pirate Audio needs better support. =(

Or way better documentation?

I have the Pirate Audio Speaker. And so far its been a very big disappointment and a lot of frustration.
I tried to use it in place of a Speaker Phat (discontinued item that is no longer available) in the itty bitty beat box. The instructions for the sound part of it are to add the following to your config.txt


along with dtparam=audio=off
Adding the first two entries will get you an option to select Hifiberry DAC as your audio source by right clicking the speaker icon in the tray. Do that and the speaker icon turns to a red X and you lose volume up down control.
Add the audio=off will do the same thing, red X and no volume control.
I did get sound though when running the drum.py example or the simple-piano.py example. Once I setup the custom bash script and launch it with cron, no sound at all. The LED’s light up when you touch a touch pad but no sound.
Tried twice from scratch, same deal.

Next I tried to set it up as a Pirate Radio, instead of the phat Beat. I did the above config.txt edits and launched the stock VLC by double clicking my palylist.m3u file. VLC launched and as near as i can tell it indicates its playing the first entry classic rock 109. But again, no sound at all? If I install Mopidy the screen works and the buttons appear to work, the volume up down moves the slider on the bar. Still no sound at all though?
If I run the Pimoroni custom VLC-Radio installer for the Pirate Radio it installs a bunch of stuff I don’t need or want. The pHat Beat software and the PiVU for the LED display on the pHatBeat. It also breaks the button functions on the Pirate Audio and still no sound.

This has been the most frustrating bit of tech I have ever bought here. And I have bought a lot of stuff. And I am no stranger to making things do things that aren’t in the Learn section. But with this its been a total, “you can’t get there from here” experience.

Running the Speaker pHat installer will get the Pirate Audio working in the Itty Bitty Beat Box. The Speaker phat and Pirate Audio use the same DAC chip. Downside is you also get all the Pi VU Meter stuff that’s running in the background but not really doing anything useful. I’m going to clone the repo and have a look see if I can hack it so that’s not installed.
I want to also run the Speaker pHat install on my Pirate Radio install to see if it helps things there as well.

I do wish that Pimoroni would take a leaf out of Adafruit’s book and have a tutorial page for each product. I know it takes effort, but having good pin descriptions, a guide for installing software as well as at least a basic description of the code which makes it work is super helpful. It’s one of the things which I really value about Adafruit.

Some consistency would help too. On the product page you’ll see do a curl - bash, but then in the learn section it’s git clone and then install.sh, and vise versa?
I have to agree, IMHO Adafruit takes the documentation and how to’s to the next level.
To be fair though, they are a much bigger company with a much bigger staff. I still think there is room for improvement here though.
And it would really help things if there was some kind of Pimoroni presence on the Pimoroni forum. If staff are here I haven’t noticed it?

On the plus side my Itty Bitty Beat Box is now working with the Pirate Audio. And as a plus I can use the X button to do a proper shutdown via a dtoverlay in config.txt.
I have some excess baggage to remove in the Pi VU Meter but it doesn’t seem to be impacting anything. Having it show something on the display would be cool. I don’t think I have those skills though?
At some point I will do something with the display, and would like to use the A B buttons for volume up down. I’ll have a go at that tomorrow some time.

Struck out getting any sound out even after running the speaker phat install with the stock VLC. VLC shows the internet stream, song title etc, after double clicking my playlist.m3u, but no sound. I was trying to do a Pirate Radio with a Pirate Audio instead of phat beat.