The One Button Audiobook Player

This little Raspberry Pi based project is a gift for my wife’s grandmother for her 90th birthday. Being visually impaired, she is hard to entertain but loves to listen to audiobooks. The problem is, that she isn’t able to handle a ghetto blaster or MP3 player.

The solution to this problem was – tadaaaah – a one button audiobook player :)

It basically consists of:

  • 1 Raspberry Pi
  • 1 ModMyPi enclosure
  • 1 button
  • 2 resistors (330 Ohm, 10 Kilo-Ohm)
  • 1 blue LED
  • 1 (slow) 8GB SD-Card
  • some wire
  • a pair of speakers

The following software has been used:

The features are the following:

  • always on: When you power on the raspberry, it will boot up and start the python script with the audio book in pause
  • one button usage: The button pauses and unpauses the audio book or goes back one track when you press the button longer than 4 seconds
  • remembers position: It will always remember the last played position
  • only one audiobook: There will always be only one audio book on the Raspberry
  • easy audio book deployment: When you plug in a USB thumb drive with a special name/label, the Raspberry will stop playing, mount the thumb drive, deletes the old audio book, copies the new one, rebuilds the playlist and – after unplugging the thumb drive – starts the new audiobook in pause mode
  • multi format: Since it uses mpd, the player supports  Ogg Vorbis, FLAC, OggFLAC, MP2, MP3, MP4/AAC, MOD, Musepack and wave

Some pics and a video:


(The audiobook used in this video is a free version of Cory Doctorows “Little Brother” from Fabian Neidhardt)

If you like to build your own one button audio book player, here are the super simple schematics:

And last but not least – the python script. The code might be crappy, please comment if you have improvements (especially regarding loadMusic). You can find it on github:

Update (2013-11-26)

Here’s what Russel wrote in a comment to this post:

“I just completed building this and have some addendum notes adding more details:

Install the following packages:
sudo apt-get install mpd
sudo apt-get install mpc
sudo apt-get install python-mpd
sudo apt-get install python-pyudev

(below assumes using defaults for /etc/mpd.conf)
sudo mkdir -p /music/usb
sudo ln -s /var/lib/mpd /music/mpd
sudo ln -s /var/lib/mpd/music /music/mp3

Copy the script to /home/pi
nano /home/pi/
Change these in the script or flip the connections in wiring diagram.
LED = 24

Rename a USB stick to “1GB”
Copy 1 MP3 onto the stick
Insert the stick into pi

sudo mount /dev/sda1 /music/usb
sudo /etc/init.d/mpd stop
sudo rm /music/mp3/*
sudo cp /music/usb/* /music/mp3/
sudo umount /music/usb
Remove the USB stick

sudo rm /music/mpd/tag_cache
sudo /etc/init.d/mpd start
mpc clear
mpc ls
mpc ls | mpc add
sudo /etc/init.d/mpd restart
mpc play

Plug in earphones
You should hear audio
Next try the python script:
sudo python /home/pi/
Insert USB stick
the LED should flash and the USB file copy to /music/mp3/
the LED should flash again. Remove the Stick and LED flashes again.
Press button to start playing
Press button again to stop
Press & hold button to rewind to beginning.

sudo crontab -e
Add following line run at startup
@reboot python /home/pi/ &
sudo reboot
Then retest again to be sure all is well.”







116 thoughts on “The One Button Audiobook Player

  1. Hi Ronaldo,

    To setup your AudioBook player you need to connect a keyboard.

    The final part of the installation is the “crontab” thing. Then each time you’ll boot your Raspberry pi, the audiobook will be launched automatically. So no need a keyboard after :)


  2. Pingback: Raspberry Pi One Touch Audiobook *Updated* | DL-UAT

  3. Completely new to this kind of stuff and this is perfect for my nearly blind grandmother. Cant find any easy step by step tutorial tho. Can anyone help? I have the raspberry pi B+, wires, led, button and resistors. The rest is totally greek to me. Hope for some help here.

  4. Pingback: 25 unglaubliche Raspberry-Pi-Projekte | t3n

  5. Great work !
    Thank you very much.

    I have a problem with long books. If I have a lot of tracks, i cant hear them after copy them to the raspberry pi. Do you have any idea why?

  6. Hi John Carley,

    I don’t know If you are still looking for one of these. But if you do, contact me : adrihebert @ gmail . com

    Have a good one,


  7. Father in law is recovering from stroke. Lost control of right hand and limited left hand dexterity. Found these posts looking for a way for him to live a little but I don’t think I’m tech enough to pull this off. Anyone willing to build and sell one ? Email me. Thx

  8. Hi Dominikus !

    Yes I have an idea ! I had the same problem.
    The key is to make a single file from all your chapters files.
    It’s not complicated on Windows. It’s just a few lines script.
    Send me an email at adrihebert @
    I will send you my little script :)


    PS: I some other people have this issue, feel free to ask me by email too

  9. Hi Kyle !

    Your email doesn’t appear ! Comment it if you want some help, or just email me (you will find my address in older comments).


  10. Pingback: Etwas für den Sonntag : Geniale Projekte für Raspberry Pi und Pi 2 ! | DER KLUGSCHEISSER

  11. Pingback: Simple Audiobook Player For Seniors And Blind People | Scott P Daugherty

  12. Hi,

    nice tutorial! I tried it the way from russel. But when I do mpc play, I get an “Error: problems opening audio device”.

    What could that mean?

    Thanks for help!

  13. I love this idea! We forget that for older people, tech can actually make their lives more inconvenient. Great idea for “back porting” tech for the elderly.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>