[Quinn] resurrects an amplifier that experienced death-by-capacitor

[Quinn Dunki] is adding wireless audio to all of the rooms in her home. She’s going with Airplay, snatching up used or refurbished Airport Express units because of their ability to work with both her existing WiFi and the Airplay protocol. The last piece in the puzzle is to get an Amp and she chose the small unit seen above. The problem is that it was dead on arrival and she couldn’t get the company to respond to her issue. So she cracked it open and fixed it right up.

The offenders are the three electrolytic capacitors at the top of the picture. She took some close-up images of each and you can’t miss the fact that they’re blown out. These are often among the higher price-per-unit parts and manufactures try to pinch the penny as much as possible. Add to it the heat in a small enclosure like this one and you’ve got a failure. [Quinn] dug through her junk bin but the size of the replacement had to be a perfect match so she ended up putting in a parts order. The new caps fit and work perfectly as you can hear in the clip after the break.

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Outdoor stereo helps your neighbors learn to issue noise complaints

Backyard parties are going to rock over at [Effin_dead_again's] house. That’s because he just finished building this outdoor stereo. It carries its own power supply so you can take it on the road with you, and we don’t think you’ll have trouble hearing it with the 240 Watt amplifier hidden inside.

He shared the equipment details in his Reddit conversation. A 12V lawn mower battery sits in the base of the wooden enclosure. One of the commenters mentioned the dangers of hydrogen off-gassing from that power source, but [Effin_dead_again] thought of that and included venting around the lid. The subwoofer is an 8″ Alpine, and speakers are out of a Hyundai car. The head unit has Bluetooth built in for easy connection to your smart phone. It of course has the ability to play CDs and MP3s too, and we’d bet you can tune the radio if there’s an antenna connected.

Need similar power but a bit more portability? Check out this stereo built into a cooler.

Surround Sound system controller replacement includes home automation

[Neoxy] always wanted surround sound for his computer, and one day he managed to get a hold of a dead 5.1 system. Why buy one when you can repair someone’s rubbish, right? That turned out to be easier said than done, but after several false-starts he managed to resurrect the audio system by replacing the microcontroller.

We find his trouble-shooting technique interesting. The amp would power up without a hitch but no sound would come out of it. So he took a headphone cable and used the L and R conductors as probes. That cable was fed from an MP3 player, and by touching the probes to the audio inputs for the pre-amp and amplifier circuits he could get great sound out of the speakers. Reasonably certain that those boards were working fine he narrowed down the troubles to three chips that mix, select inputs, and control the system.

A lot of prototyping with an ATmega328 and an Arduino led him to the functionality you see in the video after the break. Not only did he get the system working, but he’s using the Arduino to add Internet control for the device.

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Upgrading a Rockford Fosgate Punch 601s to an 801s with just a handful of parts

[Simon] had a Rockford Fosgate Punch 601s amplifier in his car, and while it was a great piece of equipment, he wanted a little more power behind his stereo system. It turns out that with just a handful of parts and a bit of soldering work, he was able to increase his amplifier’s output by 200 watts, putting it on par with a Punch 801s.

The main board in each amp is laid out identically, making the conversion a relatively easy process. A handful of MOSFETs need to be added, along with some resistors and capacitors. Most of the work can be done with a decent soldering iron, though you might want a hot air reflow station to handle the smaller resistors – it all depends on your skill set.

We’re really not sure how big the price difference is between the two amps, but we’re pretty certain that the conversion would be worth it. [Simon] sells conversion kits on his web site for under $60, but you may be able to find the parts for a bit less if you hunt around.

Creating music from GPU noise

Yep, that’s a picture of a Laptop rocking out on an electric guitar. In what can only be described as a truly bizarre hack [CNLohr] discovered that the RF noise from the computer can be used to play music through the guitar’s pickup.

Check out the clip after the break to hear an annoying, but very discernible rendition of Jingle Bells. Once [CNLohr] stumbled onto the fact that changes in what the graphic processing unit is doing was affecting the pitch detected by the pickup he started writing some code. Now he’s got a program that automatically calculates the size of the window, and produces a white square on a black background to dial in the GPU at the right frequencies.

He mentions in the notes accompanying his video that he had to turn off Vsync to get this to work right. We don’t understand why but we’d love to hear what you think in the comments.

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Don’t buy an amp, build one to suit

In need of an amplifier for his home entertainment system [Afroman] decided to build an amp rather than buying one. If nothing else, doing it himself allowed for a form factor that can’t just go out and buy.

He designed the project on two separate boards, one for the power supply and the other for the amplifier circuit. Both are of his own design, and although he doesn’t share the schematic, we know he’s based his work on a National Semiconductor reference design for the LM4780 audio amplifier chip. There’s a few other clues, like his mention of the toroidal transformer seen at the left in the image above and hi-res photos of the unpopulated board that has component values printed in the silk screen.

The final design allows him to get great performance out of his speakers with a very clean look. You’ll need to be logged to the forum linked above to view all of the images, but we’ve embedded three more of them after the break to whet your appetite.

Oh, and cost? This gets up there, just sneaking past the $500 mark.

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More 555 Projects to Enjoy

We love all of the projects that are coming out for the 555 design contest, so we thought we would share a couple more that have caught our collective eye.  Have a 555 project of your own? Be sure to share it with us, and keep an eye out for the contest submission dates. Read on for a few of our project picks.

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