Pirate Radio with Volumio using buttons and VU Meter


Hi There,

i tried to build up the Pirate Radio running Volumio as in your Product description suggested.
With a smal workaround it also uses internal WIFI.
But how to use the Buttons and VU Meter on Phat Beat?
Is there a Plugin?




I don’t think Volumio is viable right now, though I know @gadgetoid reached out to them and possibly in the future that will be a dream combo.

That said, I don’t see any particular recommendation on the product page… do you remember where you have read it… I’d hate to think that there is some compatibility implied or otherwsie in a resource we have control of?


Dear RogueM,

thats a piity. On 19.03.17 when i found it on your webshop Volumio defenitly was suggested in the description inside your Webshop.
I’m 100% sure. There was also a note that currently the build in WIFi of the ZeroW is not supported.
It seems that someone updated the description in the meantime.




I’m wasn’t aware of that, but that would simply be because some testing exposed the fragility of the setup after that description would have been posted - Volumio has very hands-on control of the audio configuration through its custom UX, which is a problem.

… it’s totally possible to set everything up and have it all work nicely, but unless you never touch any audio parameter in the Volumio UX it’s unlikely it would last for long.


Hi @pergex!

We did mention Volumio previously, but stated that the Wi-Fi wasn’t currently supported, as you said. As well as the problem with the Wi-Fi, which I know think can be solved, there is the issue that Volumio tends to wreck your alsa audio config (as @RogueM says). This is a problem because pHAT BEAT uses a custom alsa config to output audio through pHAT BEAT, drive the VU meter, and control volume in software.

For those reasons, we’ve taken out the mentions of Volumio, because we didn’t want to oversell it when it wasn’t working 100% reliably. It’s certainly possible to get it working, as Rogue says above, but it is a little fragile.

What particular features of Volumio did you want to use?


Hi, thank you both.
I never heard of volumio before i read it in your discription.
After i installed it i asked myself how to use the addiational features of the Phat Beat.
What i like on Volumio is the nice UI, Headless, easy to install.
But thanks to your explanations, now i now why i have to reboot so often to recover Audio.
When i follow your instructions for VLC Webradio i have to boot first and than have to start it, right?
And also it is not comfortable to operate it from a other device like a mobile?




we made a custom daemon for the vlcradio, so no, all you have to do is run either installer. You can also control it from a mobile, see the REDME in the pHAT BEAT repo.

I’m checking the latest Volumio as we speak but I don’t hold much hope to find a way around the interference encountered from using the UI.

I guess the only way would be to make a ‘self-repair’ process that runs at boot, so when it breaks it’s just a matter of rebooting. In principle that is possible, but clearly not a great situation neither from the point of view of Volumio’s intended experience and that of our products.

I’m a huge fa of Volumio though, everybody in the office is, so it’s definitely an integration we want to see getting better over time!


Hi folks,

Volumio is a great audio player (Maybe the best), but it is a shitty OS (but improving). You cannot (shouldn’t) configure stuff via SSH such as alsa or mpd … everytime i did, volumio went crazy.

That said, the phat beat and phat dac don’t have hardware volume control, so you have to configure alsa to mix sound from software (what the pimoroni setup script does well, + vu meter). But the script does not run well on Volumio (for the reason i explained). And I don’t even talk about the Spotify plugin …

That’s why Volumio is really not a good choice for the pirate radio (which i think is a damn good product). I was indeed surprised when it was mentioned in the initial post.

Maybe it would have been interesting to add a physical pot to control volume (I had to do this on my Orange CR6S hacked Radio with PhatDac) and an independent vue meter (from output) …


Hi there,
I tried your install script for vlc implementation, but without success. As aBase i installed Raspian Jessie and installed your script. It runs through with out errors. But after that nothing happens. Then i installed vlc manually and ran the script again and rebooted. How to use it as a radio player? I can start vlc manually and Vu Meter runs when i play a audio file but buttons did not work. I did not catch it how to it probably


the scripts implements vlc as a service. The VU should flash on boot to let you know the radio is ‘ready’. To use you have to press the FF button to force tune into one of the preset - that is a VLC thing.

anyhow, if the VU does not flash on boot then something is up, but if you didn’t know what to expect it could well be running as expected. I highly recommend you check the README before going any further as ultimately you will want to customise the playlist and there is a thing or two you need to know to do that!


I have successfully used volumio, pizero w and the speaker hat and have GPIO buttons working with https://github.com/tomatpasser/gpio-buttons if that helps


Hi there,

if got it running now.
After a clean install of the lite Version of Raspian without Desktop an reinstall of your script
it runs. Thanks




For the hope to use the Sepaker pHAT with Volumio for my custom vintage radio too, i tryed to do all in the Volumio build section in a clean install of a Raspbian Lite :


And next please? A .img file was created, i flashed it on a flash card but the Pi won’t to boot. Normal?

Please show me the way. Thanks.


very sure we discussed Volumio somewhere in this thread… did you skip it and just added a post to an old topic without reading it :D

… to cut a long story short: it won’t work, Well, it could, but - and I’m quoting Kansas here:
only for a moment, and the moment's gone.


Hi RogueM,

I have volumio running on my pirate radio (love it!) locally here with most of the pivumeter running (I think I have a feeling now of why it will never work easily, for me the pivumeter level still does not scale with the volume level) However, I just wanted to ask whether the moment has gone because of lack of interest or did the volumio team already refuse to think about necessary changes? I was wondering whether I should try to start a new effort to get pirate support as a plugin into volumio; however I would rather spend my efforts elsewhere if you already know for sure that this won’t happen for a technical reason. Is there a technical blocker or is it just not enough resources being available?

Thanks and please keep up the great work at Pimoroni!




Let me swipe off some dust from this topic, and recommend you to read my post on Volumio forums where I describe how I succeeded in replacing ALSA with PulseAudio using PhatBeat installation script from Pimoroni, which gives you a working VU meter as well in Volumio! It’s there: https://volumio.org/forum/volumio2-rpi-zero-with-phatbeat-dac-and-pulseaudio-t8493.html . In the future, I will also look into the buttons themselves, but probably a right Volumio plugin should do for them ;)