MBox: A Child’s MP3 Player

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For young children, music is a wonderful and exciting thing — but do you really want them playing with your phone, or worse yet, an iPod? [Arons] decided to make the MBox, an Arduino powered MP3 player.

He was inspired by hörbert, a very similar wooden MP3 player for children. Apparently it’s a great product, but it also costs 239€. We don’t blame him for wanting to make his own.

The MBox follows the same exterior design as hörbert — though we must admit, he could have spiced it up a bit! It uses an Arduino Uno at its core with a Freaduino MP3 music shield, capable of playing all the typical formats like MP3, MIDI, WAV, and even Ogg Vorbis. To amplify the sound he’s using a Mono Audio Amp Breakout board from SparkFun which drives an 8Ω loudspeaker. A mini USB power brick provides the juice, and a 12-digit keypad provides the ability to select music — each number plays from a different directory on the SD card.

[Arons'] daughter loves it, and he probably only spent a fifth of what the real hörbert costs!

[Thanks for the tip Renzo!]

Ugly upgrade keeps the tunes playing longer

[Sam] picked up a Sansa Clip audio player to listen to some tunes while working on projects. He liked the fact that he could run the Rockbox alternative firmware on the device, but thought the 15 hour battery life needed some improving. He swapped out the stock cell with a larger Lithium cell for a long life of 50-60 hours. It’s an upgrade fom 300 mAh to 1100 mAh, but as you can see, the size of the replacement made for some interesting case modification.

The battery swap required more than just taking one battery out and putting in the other. [Sam] is using a cellphone battery as the replacement and he didn’t want to have issues with the internal circuitry. He took the cell out of its plastic enclosure, removing the circuit board in the process. That PCB is the charging circuit, which he replaced with the one from the stock battery. After insulating the cell with a layer of Kapton tape he soldered it to the MP3 player and did his best to adhere all the parts to each other.

Sure, its ugly, but that makes it right at home on the work bench.

NES controller cannibalized for MP3 player enclosure

We know some folks are very upset by the scrapping on vintage hardware, so let’s all observe a moment of silence for this NES controller.

Now that that’s behind us we can live vicariously through [Burger King Diamond's] project. He polished up the NES controller and repurposed it as an enclosure for a portable MP3 player.

His first step was to remove some of the yellowing of the plastic using Retr0brite. He admits it wasn’t bad to start with but now it’s sparkling like new. Next, he started planning how everything would fit in the case. Luckily the MP3 player operates with one AAA battery which leaves plenty of room.

Just above the A and B buttons you can make out an opening that he cut in the case for the MP3 player’s LCD screen. The bezel from the original case works well for cleaning the rough cut opening. The buttons on the controller have been patched into the controls on the MP3 board, and the opening for the controller’s cable now holds the headphone jack. There’s also a USB port mounted next to it for easy file transfers.

The one thing we would like to see is a rechargeable battery so you don’t need to open the case to top off the power. But all in all this is a fantastic build!