AIRAMP MP3: Bringing Winamp Into The Real World!

AIRAMP is a retro style music MP3 player for desktop based on the legendary Winamp media player software...

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24 years ago, Winamp was released for Microsoft Windows OS and quickly becomes the most famous software for music reproduction.

In 1998 Winamp's version 2.0 was released, allowed to create new skins and bring the community the oportunity to program PLUGINS. By the end of 1998, there were already over 60 plugins and hundreds of skins made for the software.

All those features made Winamp a reference media player and creates its own legend...

This project was made as a tribute for one of the best music player ever created!!!

...But this time, I wanted to bring the player into the REAL world instead of just built another skin or app software...

I have been using Winamp as my music player since 1998 until today, and I still think it's really cool...

I had an HP48GX calculator, and of course there was a Winamp plugin for my HP, allowing me to remote control Winamp functions from my calculator (using IR), and it's just one example...

Over the years, many skins (some modern, some crazy) was made and released freely for Winamps users, one of my favorite is Quinto Black CT...

My best friend (Isaac) and I was wondering how would looks like Winamp today if the software wasn't in the limbo (cof cof Radionomy)...

Certainly it should look like modern, but keeping this retro style as modern american muscle cars does, and he (Isaac) cames with this crazy idea, about how would look not just Winamp's software, but if it will made in hardware, and just can have it in my desk but my real world desk...

We searched the web and found many renders about how a REAL Winamp should be and look like, but none of those ideas were made for real...

Here are some examples:

And my favorite one was this: 

Of course, one thing is a render and another is how to practically build the whole thing... 

First off all, we had to abstract which features make a Winamp to be Winamp, and what we found was this: 

For the main dock:

1.- The main dock ALWAYS has 5 buttons (gray color), used to change functions, but 3 of them are quite redundant: PLAY PAUSE and STOP.

2.- There are secondary buttons, for EQ, PLAYLIST, SHUFFLE and REPEAT.

3.- It MUST HAVE and audio spectrum analyzer which is one of the coolest features about Winamp.

4.- It MUST HAVE a text bar, who shows the current music track information.

5.- The MAIN COLOR MUST BE GREEN (monochromatic): This feature had always been  since the first version and brings this so RETRO feel...

6.- It MUST have a progress reproduction bar, which indicates the song time progression.

7.- All the sliders looks like 80's audio hardware sliders (but they are really difficult to implement).

In fact, I created a music audio player inspired on the Winamp's main dock some years ago (You can see here) but obviously it doesn't look like Winamp, since it lack off some of the features mentioned above...

So, I started over again, rescuing some ideas and code, but keeping in mind about creating my own real life Winamp...

First, I started from a "modern" skin, which preserves the main features of Winamp, and I choosed Quinto Black CT and blended this skin with my own skin created years ago...

I always think about the Winamp main screen, and I believe it's so small...I understand that when Winamp was made, the software just couldn't consume many resources (my first Winamp ran on a Intel pentium mx)...

Ok then... a BIG GREEN Screen will be used, and I have this one (5.5 Inches), which I used to build this retro-game-clock before and posted here on Hackaday...

The BIG PROBLEM, but really BIG PROBLEM, are those 80's look like SLIDERS that Winamp uses everywhere (for volume, balance, EQ and so on), because doing a mechanical version of them would be expensive, bulky and noisy, but also I won't be able to remote control this kind of mechanical sliders without ataching them some sort of motor...

So... I started to play with a new ideas... more modern but clever...

I ordered long time ago about 100 RGB addressable LEDS (APA102) in small package (SMD) and I wondered if  they could be used to "SIMULATE" position and movement, and also take advantage of they ARE RGB LEDS!!!

I made a PCB for the progress bar using 25 RGB LEDS, which covers about 5.5 inches along just for testing purposes...

The APA102 are Addressable and chainable LEDS that uses CLOCK and DATA serial pins, so designing with them is very easy...

Then I enclosed the bar inside a polystyrene home made box...

I didn't like the first results, because you can SEE how many RGB LEDS are inside...

The trick was to add more SPACE...

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This document is the datasheet for the HEADPHONE amplifier

Adobe Portable Document Format - 1.45 MB - 06/28/2021 at 16:52



VLSI VS1063a datasheet: This document contains all the information about the MP3, FLAC, OGG and M4A decoder

Adobe Portable Document Format - 939.88 kB - 06/28/2021 at 16:50


SSD1322 revision 1.2.pdf

OLED chip controller datasheet

Adobe Portable Document Format - 740.20 kB - 06/28/2021 at 16:49



5.5 Inches OLED datasheet

Adobe Portable Document Format - 4.15 MB - 06/28/2021 at 16:48


PIC18F87K22 datasheet.pdf

This documents desribes all about PIC18F87K22

Adobe Portable Document Format - 4.34 MB - 06/28/2021 at 16:40


  • 1 × PIC18F87K22 Microchip microcontroller
  • 1 × VS1063 VLSI MP3 FLAC OGG and WAV decoder
  • 1 × IS62WV5128DBLL-45 512 KB Static RAM, 45 ns time access
  • 1 × USB2241 USB to Massive storage chip converter
  • 1 × MCP6292 Dual Rail to Rail OP AMP from microchip

View all 13 components

  • New FFT added

    Victor Serrano09/02/2023 at 01:50 0 comments

    New FFT drawing...

    I almost haven't time to keep up with this project, but I added a new FFT drawing recently...

    Instead of solid points with shaded bars I generated a degraded slim bars and interpolated more points between the FFT points...

View project log

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Doug Chan wrote 07/18/2021 at 22:49 point

I know you said they'd be kinda expensive to do mechanical sliders for the equalizer, but at the very least the song time tracker could have been?
This slide pot would be a really cool way to do it:
Realistically you wouldn't be moving it very quickly so it shouldn't make that much noise, especially if it's properly housed and isolated. Those big audio mixers are supposed to be very quiet.

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Victor Serrano wrote 07/18/2021 at 23:46 point

Yes, it's a cool slider, but too much expensive... at leat 240 USD for 10 of them...
The sliders of the equalizer will be touch sensitive, I'am currently working on them, stay tune for updates

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Doug Chan wrote 07/19/2021 at 00:08 point

Yeah, I wouldn't use it for the equalizer unless they were smaller and more affordable. This one is pretty big at 100mm travel. I tried looking for smaller ones but haven't found any with less than 75mm. At the very least I figured that it would make a great time tracker and give at least one mechanical element.

I'm also curious if you'll implement the playlist block eventually, would that just end up being another OLED display?

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Victor Serrano wrote 07/19/2021 at 21:40 point

The first idea was to add another OLED screen, but it was a bad idea, because this kind of OLED screen are expensive and there is not a big resolution, they can only show 256 x 64 pixels, or about 8 - 10 character lines...

But we came with a better idea: Use the main screen for showing the playlist eventually, but navigating around the songs would be tedious...

Then, we had the main idea: Airamp has a web server inside, wich can serve a webapp to a smartphone...

So why not recreate a winamp style skin for the frontend, where you can use a more usefull playlist viewer and use to choose songs...

All the audio data is maintained on Airamp freeing space on the smart phone but keeping the remote control functions on cellphone

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Victor Serrano wrote 07/10/2021 at 01:47 point

Thank you, I will update soon upgrades, I'm currrently working on the equalizer concept, but I really apreciate you like reading my project

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Kenneth Mendenhall wrote 07/08/2021 at 17:00 point

This is incredible work!  Good job!

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Victor Serrano wrote 07/10/2021 at 01:47 point

Thanks a lot

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Mark Rehorst wrote 07/08/2021 at 04:07 point

You're going to need a display to run milkdrop visualizations while the music plays!

Or maybe add an HDMI port to drive your 88" OLED TV with the visualizations.

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Victor Serrano wrote 07/08/2021 at 04:10 point

Even better, I have been working on a low cost laser projector to project visualizations acording to music...

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Stephan Poulin wrote 07/08/2021 at 02:15 point

It really whips the llama's ass!

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Mike Szczys wrote 07/02/2021 at 16:06 point

Whaaaaat! That is bonkers. The finished shelf system looks so cool!

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Victor Serrano wrote 07/03/2021 at 08:28 point

Thank you Mike, I hope you enjoy the project, I't took several of my  free time to get piece by piece of knowledge to buit and programed it.

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Joel wrote 06/26/2021 at 08:20 point

What an amazing project, good job!

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Tom Nardi wrote 06/25/2021 at 03:56 point

This is such an awesome project. Do you have any more pictures of the completed hardware?

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Victor Serrano wrote 06/25/2021 at 14:03 point

Yes Tom, in fact I haven't finish uploading information, but I will update these days

  Are you sure? yes | no

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