Tivoli-HiFiBerry Dual Alarm Speaker

Guide written by Riccardo Raponi

Inspired by Pippin’s project, creator of iPeng, I wanted to recreate a much simpler system which can be realized (by almost) everyone. The Tivoli Dual Alarm is an additional clock module to the Tivoli Model Three system. Inside is an alarm clock and a speaker that connects to the Model Three that contains the amplifier.

On eBay I found two new Tivoli at a very reduced price, so I decided to put the Raspberry Pi Zero W with an HiFiBerry MiniAmp in one of them and connect the other to get stereo sound. Ideal for the bedroom (with double bed).

Components required:

  • Tivoli Dual Alarm (x2)
  • Raspberry Pi Zero W
  • HiFiBerry MiniAmp
    RCA plug
    DC plug
  • DC jack
  • Velcro
  • 40-pin header

    Assembly:

    Stack the MiniAmp onto the Raspberry Pi Zero W using the 40-pin header like this that does not require soldering (just use a hammer and a little care!) and spacers to join them.
    The result will be this:

    Remove the rear panel of the Tivoli by unscrewing the 6 screws and detach the speaker cable; insert into the hole left the RCA jack to connect the other Tivoli. Beside make a second hole in which insert the 5Volt socket that will power the Raspberry.

    Before:

    After:

    Inside you need to solder a piece of cable to the rear of the RCA jack, connect the other end to one channel of the MiniAmp, and another to the rear of the DC socket to power the RPi Zero, I sacrifice a microUSB cable.

    To fix the RPI and the MiniAmp within the Tivoli, I chose to use adhesive Velcro, in case I need to remove them to replace the microSD card.

    The interior of the Tivoli is not very spacious for the components of the watch, the bass-reflex pipe and a minimum of sound dampening material:

    I preferred to attach the Velcro on the bottom of the Tivoli to keep the Raspberry as far as possible from the speaker magnet. In the picture you see the Raspberry, albeit covered by cables, attached with a Velcro strip:

    Connected like this, I left the clock separated from the audio: You can use the alarm clock also if the RPi is off, or you can use the alarm of the Squeezebox Server (see below) instead of the beep-beep!

    At last, connect a 5Volt power supply of 1A min. (better 2A).

    The Software:

    In a system like this I use piCorePlayer, a distro based on Microcore Linux that runs completely in RAM, avoiding power outages may corrupt the microSD card (in this case even more difficult to replace). piCorePlayer is suitable for those who already have a system based on the Logitech Media Server (Squeezebox).

    Once the img file is downloaded, you have to write it to the microSD. I use for this USB Image Tool, a light and simple program.

    A little trick: You can start the RPi Zero W without monitor and keyboard adding a simple file in the root directory of the microSD. Create a file “newconfig.cfg” and paste this text:

    ###################
    # Edit the variables below to setup a wifi based system without LAN access
    # Change Wifi to "on". Valid options for Encryption are "WEP", "WPA" or "OPEN"
    WIFI="on"
    SSID="wireless"
    PASSWORD="password"
    ENCRYPTION="WPA"
    # End Wifi setup
    ##########################

    Enter your SSID and PASSWORD and save the file, then start your system. After 1/2 min., if everything went well, find the IP of the RPi (I use the app FING on an Android Smartphone) and enter it into your browser: you should see the piCorePlayer home page:

    Now, in the “Squeezelite Settings” tab you need to select the correct audio card: for the MiniAmp, select HiFiBerry DAC+ Light, then SAVE.

    piCorePlayer ask you to reboot: Select YES and after 1/2 min. you are ready to go. Now you can play a little with ALSA Equalizer: in the Main Page, select at the bottom of the page the Advanced tab, then in Tweaks go to Audio Tweaks, and CONFIGURE the ALSA 10 band equalizer to modify the sound according to your taste.

    In Logitech Media Server preferences (that you would know using Squeezebox), you can set multiple alarm days and times for this Tivoli clock and wake up with your favorite playlist.

    That’s All!

    Placement:

    By its nature the Tivoli Dual Alarm is perfect in the bedroom

    Conclusions:

    If you can find the Tivoli at a good price, the system is simple to implement and is perfect coupled with the HiFiBerry MiniAmp. The sound is very very good for its size and the volume fills a room with no problems. Don’t forget that we are talking about a bedside speaker!!