Playing sounds with Python on a Raspberry Pi

Today I needed to play back an MP3 or WAV file through a USB audio device on a Raspberry Pi, in a Python script. "Should be easy!" I thought!

Clarence the Raspberry Pi Bell Slapper with USB audio output and speaker

Well, a couple hours later I decided to write this blog post to document the easiest way to do it, since I had to take quite a journey to get to the point where sound actually plays through the USB audio output.

The problem is most guides, like this simple one from Raspberry Pi's project site, assume two things:

The Raspberry Pi IoT Notification Bell

Harbinger of the Internet of Dings

Last year, I built the first version of what I call the "Raspberry Pi Bell Slapper." It was named that because it used a servo and a metal arm to slap the top of the bell in response to a stimuli—in this case, an email from a donation notification system for a local non-profit radio station.

This year, that same radio station had another one of their fund-raisers (a radiothon), and to celebrate, I thought I'd do the thing justice, with a better circuit (using a solenoid instead of a servo) and a 3D printed enclosure. And this is the result:

Clarence 2.0 - The Raspberry Pi Notification Bell

There is a Raspberry Pi Zero W with a custom solenoid control HAT on top inside the case to the left, and the solenoid right up against the bell, which is mounted on the right.

I also posted a video on YouTube exploring the project in detail: The Raspberry Pi IoT Notification Bell.