The pseudonymous maker and chiptune DJ “User1539” works on wearables with a difference: all the hardware is integrated into the big headphones, including the battery and a Raspberry Pi single-board computer.
“I started this project thinking ‘I’m going to make a wearable computer that I want to wear all day,'” explains User1539 of an earlier generation in the unusual wearable family. “The monocle[,] salvaged from an old pair of video glasses[,] actually fold to the side, and they can be used as regular headphones. But as they got bigger and bigger it looked like a Halloween costume, and I leaned into it again.
These 3D-printed headphone shells hide a hardware including Raspberry Pi Zero. (📷: User1539)
The large 3D-printed headphone shell hides a Raspberry Pi Zero single-board computer, an Adafruit PowerBoost board connected to a battery, and speakers to be used as actual headphones – plus a link on the flip – down monocle. It’s not just for show, though: The Raspberry Pi runs a copy of Retropie and emulates a Nintendo Game Boy running LSDJ for chip-tune composition and playback.
Since opening the “Halloween costume” variant, User1539 has been working on something more subtle. “I really like the last pair of computer headphones,” explains the creator, “but they’re not ‘everyday’ headphones. They’re more comfortable, and less crazy looking.”
The housing may be more subtle, but the overall hardware is largely unchanged: There is a Raspberry Pi Zero single-board computer, another saved low-resolution flip-down monocle display, even a larger battery that offers an expected four to six hours of active use. It also offers the option for larger displays: An integrated 5.8GHz video transmitter can send the signal to an optional pair of goggles and a 5″ display.
An early design is considered inappropriate for everyday wear – but great for Halloween. (📷: User1539)
“I’ve been obsessed with functional computers since I played Cyberpunk 2020 as a kid, and followed MIT’s functional projects through college,” User1539 explained. “Then one day I realized that I could build all these things in my basement, for not so nice food outside. So, why not? I like to use it, but it’s a hassle to wear it.
“Then I thought of making something like the Cybernaut MAIV and realized that I didn’t need an external processor, I could do it all in one unit attached to my studio headphones. Since then I’ve made four. set of headphones, and I work on the fifth, and my wife, and others who work in my makerspace with me make it.
More details on the latest headphone computer are available in User1539’s Reddit thread; different thread looking at the previous generation build.