Thumper is a Propeller based Internet Radio Player with MP3 Recording and Playback capabilities. The hardware contains a single Parallax Propeller Chip and some external support chips to implement a complete internet radio player. Thumper contains features not found in any commercially available products and can be built for only a fraction of the cost of commercial products.
Thumper's long feature set beats out many commercial internet radio devices, many of which cost hundreds of dollars. The feature list includes many items not available in commercial internet radio devices. One such feature is the real-time MP3 recording capabilities. The user can easily record any music stream to standard MP3 files. Thumper also supports a full featured web interface which allows users to remotely control the music playing functionality from any device with a standard web browser. Song metadata such as the Title and Artist information is fully supported and displayed. Thumper also supports standard ID3v1 MP3 tags for easy MP3 library sharing. Files saved with Thumper can be played with any device or program that supports MP3 files (such as iPods, Windows Media Player, Winamp, etc).
The real advantage of Thumper is the extremely fault tolerant internet radio streaming functionality. The TCP/IP stack, which provides the network protocol used to stream the music, was custom designed and tweaked for this project. It features lost packet recovery and fast connection recovery in order to reduce music streaming stuttering. Commercial products and programs (such as Winamp) have problems recovering from network problems. Thumper can resume music streams within seconds after an error occurs.
The hardware for Thumper is custom designed to be as small as possible. The PCB size is 3.2" by 1.5", which fits perfectly behind a standard 2 line by 16 character LCD display. The board stacks behind the display, forming a very elegant and small package. All external connections are specially positioned for easy accessibility. The only connections needed are power, ethernet, and audio out. User input can be performed via a standard Sony compatible universal infrared remote or via any standards complaint web browser.
This project was only possible thanks to the Propeller's powerful multiple core architecture. Conventional microcontrollers do not have the required computational power to perform the multiple tasks required to implement Thumper's feature set. Even software solutions for desktop computers do not have many of the features included in Thumper.