Public Radio

Public Radio is a collaboration between New American Public Art and Andrew Ringler.

See New American Public art’s post about the radio at

Public Radio is a giant controllable public FM radio. It plays music from FM stations, visitors can change the station or volume by turning giant plastic wheels mounted on the front. I was responsible for the design and fabrication of all electrical components including: audio, FM radio control, lighting, channel and volume changing sensors as well as all programming of the microcontroller.

A micro::bit microcontroller controls the entire radio. Each wheel spins continuously clockwise and counterclockwise, as the station wheel spins clockwise stations increase and then roll over at max. As the wheel is spun counterclockise stations decrease and then roll over at the minimum FM station. Volume increases while spinning the volume wheel clockwise, then rolls over and starts decreasing in volume, then repeats, spinning the wheel counterclockwise does the opposite, thus creating a feeling of continuous change no matter what the wheel is doing. See source code and detailed implementation explanations at

Public Radio was the winning proposal for the 2016 Public Space Invitational Digital Challenge. It was made possible by Microsoft Technology and Civic Engagement, Microsoft Garage, The Mayor’s Office of New Urban Mechanics, City of Boston, and the Artisan’s Asylum. Public Radio is a collaboration between interactive design studio New American Public Art and Somerville artist and creative programmer Andrew Ringler. It is sponsored in part by Vernier Software & Technology.

Installed outside District Hall, Boston, Seaport April 19th 2019—2021.

illuminated channels

FM stations laser etched and edge illuminated with LEDs

changing the station

Visitor changing the FM station

Visitor listening to radio

Visitor listening to radio

radio in daytime

Radio in the daytime

Visitor scratching some tunes by turning the tuning dial

Lights animate with a pulse when station is not changing

Lights give feedback while changing station and smoothly transition back to pulsing when at rest

Channel changing and volume changing animations. Volume flips direction when hitting max or min allowing the wheel to be continuously spun in any direction