(Near) Infinite Budget iPad Karaoke

It turns out my 3-year old daughter is a big karaoke fan. She does a marvellous version of Lionel Richie’s “Hello”. 

It just so happened that this beautiful Arbiter karaoke machine was in one of our local charity shops for the princely sum of £10. (Aside: turns out Ivor Arbiter was quite an interesting fellow.) Lightbulb: perfect Christmas present on a budget (I’m on statutory paternity pay for 6 months – just under £140 a week).

Ah the golden age of electrical devices

Now I salute the far-sighted design engineer that placed a 3.5mm audio jack input on the back of this machine.


Hurray for Aux In

This means I can plug in an iPad or iPhone with a 3.5mm-to-3.5mm jack. 

I can also make the device wireless by digging out a Fon Gramofon the nice people at Fon/Spotify gave me for free.

After connecting either iDevice or Gramofon, I simply load up Spotify and hey presto I have access to millions of tracks (including all Disney songs and “The Best of Hall and Oates”).

As a bonus the machine came with two mikes. Both older daughters can thus sing “Let in Go” in joyous disharmony.


Rumour has it the desktop Spotify app also allows you to display lyrics for certain songs. (Untested – mainly because both girls cannot read fast scrolling text yet!) If this is true, full Karaoke goodness would simply involve bringing a laptop down next to the machine (or even using HDMI out on laptop to show on TV).
So there you go – a complete kid karaoke system, with all Disney songs, for a £10 donation to local hospital’s cancer charity

But shhh, don’t tell the girls before Christmas.

Programming a Raspberry Pi from the Sofa

I have set up quite a nifty little workflow for interfacing and programming the Raspberry Pi.

SSH Access

I have set up the Pi with a static IP address and configured SSH access.

Setting up a static IP address is easy with an AirPort Extreme. Using AirPort Utility goto Advanced options>DHCP and NAT>Reservations. Set up a new reservation based on the MAC address of your Pi – I recommend one of the higher IP addresses within the range.

I can then use iSSH on the iPad to log into the Pi. My settings are as follows:

This allows me to login and have access to the Pi command line from my iPad:



To write programs I use the excellent Textastic. Both iSSH and Textastic are about £6 or £7 but they are worth the price.

In Textastic I have set up an SFTP link (FTP over SSH) using the same parameters as the iSSH link. I have also linked my Dropbox account. I can then write programs on the iPad within Textastic before copying them across to a directory on the Raspberry Pi. This is as easy as selecting a menu icon and clicking “Upload File”:

Once you have selected an upload location, this is remembered in Textastic making the updating of files a breeze. For example, I often code, upload, run on Pi command line, get an error, go back to the code, update, upload and run.
I also link each file with a Dropbox directory. An upload to here works as a backup but also allows easier access and debugging from my Ubuntu machine.