$3 adds sweet tunes to your project

It’s a fun time to design your own MP3 player, lovingly adding in features to a meticulously crafted user interface. But sometimes you just want a quick and cheap way to add music to a project. [Jeff Ledger] will show you how to do just that using some knock-off hardware from overseas. Instead of a proper breakout board — which can cost a bundle — he used a generic MP3 player acquired for $3 from an eBay seller.

Cracking open the case you’ll see that you actually get a lot for your triad of Washingtons. We know, it may be of questionable quality (see this feature about cheap PSU problems) but we’re not building mission critical hardware now are we? Inside is a rechargeable Lithium battery for use with another project, and a chip-on-board device with attached SD card slot, audio jack, and USB port. The battery inputs are used to solder the MP3 pcb to the power rails on your project. To control the playback, just make connections to the button pads as [Jeff] describes in his post. It sounds like this will work with any MP3 player which runs at either 3.3V or 5V.

Comments

  1. J. Peterson says:

    I used to be amazed at the $5 string of Christmas lights (isn’t the copper in the wires worth more than that?). Now we have $3 MP3 players!?

    Next up: The $5 app phone (running Android, of course).

  2. CB4 says:

    Nice :D

  3. War_Spigot says:

    The eBay listings are soooo Engrish:
    Note: Please choose the color and when pay the payment

    Mp3 x 1 (Memories and headphone card are not included)

    Note: Please make the color and number when make the payment in paypal note. or you can send message to my email , otherwise we will ship the item for black . thanks!

    Gotta love Hong Kong eBay sellers

  4. TBO says:

    I am totally getting one of these… I wanted to get MP3 playback for an alarm clock I am making, but didn’t want to spend $20 for the sparkfun board… $3 is much more manageable (although I will need to source a micro SD card still…)

    Thanks HAD!

  5. DJ Charlie says:

    Neat!

    What I’d really be interested in though would be modifying a player like this so that if you pressed button “A” track 1 would play, button “B” track 2, etc.

  6. Tweeks says:

    So how DO those players work? Can you have it play different, single tracks?

    Tweeks

  7. Sven says:

    I dislike these tutorials, they assume all generic devices will have the same internal layout.

    This hack will most likely not work the same way on the clip player you get home since there is literally hundreds of different ones out there, many of them still using Ipod clip G2 ripoff cases.

    I actually just got a couple of these for a similar purpose and was positively surprised, the ones i got started playback from the first track automatically on applied power, and automatically looped. Exactly what i wanted, didn’t even have to solder any control buttons.

    • TBO says:

      I agree that the tutorial itself is not applicable to many of the devices out there, but the general concepts are (i.e. mod an existing device instead of buying a new dev board). I had decided not to bother with MP3 playback for my project, since the cheapest MP3 playback board was too expensive; however, for less than the cost of shipping from Spark Fun, I can try my hand at doing it myself. This article gave me an idea for an alternative implementation; I don’t care about the specifics, it is the idea which is important IMHO!

      Cheers

  8. MB says:

    Very nice!
    Does anyone know what’s the capacity of the battery inside (I’m looking for cheap lithium battery) ? And is there a proper charge circuit between the usb and the battery ?

  9. Err0rC0deX says:

    I used this for a custum doorbell. These mp3 players have 4 buttons and 1 switch. I used small relay to turn the switch on and then it starts playing your mp3’s.
    Buttons are prev song, volume up, next song, volume down. For my case I simply just put 1 mp3 on sd card and it works well.

  10. Bobikas says:
  11. Sven says:

    The one i got was almost exactly the same as this one from what i can see in the pictures, some things are placed differently such as the battery inputs, but it’s close enough that i would say it does not have a proper charge circuit but just a series resistance and a diode to the battery from USB 5V.

    The batteries are completely unmarked but the 3x23x25mm cell tells me they would probably be 150mAh. I would not trust the quality of them though, better buy some replacement cells for micro RC helicopters or cell phones.

  12. wetomelo says:

    Hacking it’s about thinking, not just parrot reading tutorials. I really love projects like this, it’s more practical, cheaper, faster to buy something and “interface it”. It really makes sense the term “Quick and Dirty”

  13. skab says:

    Is there anyway to use these to put out video through component or standard video RCA cables?

    ….or, is there anyway to store video data in an mp3 that can be played back easily on a standard TV or monitor?

  14. HackerKid says:

    I bet HongKong is wondering why they have a sudden surge in sales. :P

  15. Rob says:

    I googled “triad of Washingtons” but it wasn’t any help.

  16. teknynja says:

    I did a variation of this hack on a similar device recently, using an IDC ribbon cable to make connecting it to multiple projects a breeze.

    I was surprised as well at how nicely these work in embedded projects, like a previous commenter said, they start playing track 1 as soon as you apply power. It would be nice to be able to jump to specified tracks, but I’ll accept the limitations for $3!

    You can see details of my IDC version of this hack on my blog at teknynja.com.

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