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Magnetic Swipe Card Jukebox

This repo contains what I'm using to make a Musicbox+Raspberry Pi+Spotify jukebox for my kids work with magnetic swipe cards. There is a very small Bash script that waits for input from a card reader, a list of Spotify URIs (see below for why), and I'll try to explain the steps in this readme.


  • Raspberry Pi (any model)
  • SD card with MusicBox flashed onto it
  • Speakers (USB, 3.5mm, USB soundcard + 3.5mm, whatever you like)
  • Magnetic card writer
  • USB magnetic card reader (specifically one that emulates keyboard input)
  • Magnetic swipe cards

Steps (to be expanded)

  • Set up MusicBox on the Raspberry Pi
  • Ensure Spotify is set up and audio is working by running mpc add spotify:track:7GhIk7Il098yCjg4BQjzvb && mpc play
  • Encode and label cards
  • Run curl >
  • Set root to auto-login (unless you want to have to log in every time it reboots)
  • Set /root/ to run after login (unless, again, you want to do this manually every time)
  • Run bash (this will download my kids' song list)
  • Swipe card
  • Enjoy!

Things you might be wondering

Why didn't you use X other thing that already exists?

There are a lot of projects I've looked at in the course of planning this that I will link as I continue to flesh out this readme! They helped me understand a lot of things and I would probably not have figured this out entirely on my own. That said, the scripts I found use Python, which is fine, but I wanted something super streamlined that didn't depend on installing other things. Also I barely understand Python and since I'm using magnetic swipe cards instead of RFID chips (mostly due to shipping constraints), I'd have to make modifications anyway.

Why the list of URIs?

tl;dr: case sensitivity but it started out as a workaround for a wonky card reader.

I don't live in a country where I can reasonably ship things from Amazon to myself and the USB card reader somebody just brought back from the US for me only seems to read tracks 2 and 3 on cards, confirmed by testing it with real live working cards. Tracks 2 and 3 can only contain numbers, so I figured a list of songs referenced by line number would be the path of least resistance. If I get more time before I just go ahead and acquire another card reader, I'll work on supporting comments so you can identify each line or maybe make it a full-on CSV. Right now I'm doing an annoying but cheap thing where I have a Spotify playlist and select-all, right-click, copy Spotify URIs, and paste that into the songs.txt file. I may expand this into something where I can create labels more easily, but still working on that part.

As I was trying to figure out where to acquire another card reader, I realized that the cards can only be encoded in all-caps, and Spotify URIs are case-sensitive, so this wonky card reader actually sent me in the right direction anyway! Also, an advantage of the list of URIs is that I can update the song list on the fly without rewriting the cards, like if a URL breaks, or the kids decide they want to change a song.


MusicBox + Raspberry Pi + magnetic swipe card jukebox






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