DIY MP3 player shows that no hack is ever obsolete

wacken_death_box

[Ole Wolf] wrote in to tell us about a project he has been working on for several years now. The Wacken Death Box serves as a reminder that once you start a DIY project, it’s probably a good idea to finish it in a reasonable amount of time, lest it risk becoming obsolete.

His Death Box is an MP3 player that he takes along on his annual trip to the Wacken Open Air Festival. His goal was to construct a portable amplified music player that could be powered from either a car battery or charger. A Via EPIA Mini-ITX computer serves as the brains of the device, blaring his tunes from a set of car loudspeakers via a two-channel 100W amp.

[Ole Wolf] used the music player for a few years, improving it as he went along. He does admit however, that with the continually dropping prices of MP3 players, he decided to bring a small portable unit along with him to the 2010 festival, leaving his box at home.

Given the fact that far smaller and more portable devices make his music box seem clunky and obsolete in comparison, you might ask why he even keeps it around. We think that every hack has its place, and while you won’t be strapping the Death Box on your back for your morning jog, it fits quite well in a variety of situations. This rugged music box would be an appropriate choice to use in your workshop, at the beach, or even on a construction job site – places where you might not want to use your comparatively fragile iDevice.

Solar-powered MP3 playing speaker

solar_speakers

[Valentin] bought a small battery-powered cube speaker with a built-in amp some time ago, but didn’t have much patience for replacing or recharging the batteries. It sat on the shelf for awhile until he decided to revive an old MP3 player he had sitting around.

He gutted a pair of solar garden lamps, retaining the solar panels, the built-in charging circuits, as well as the included rechargeable batteries. The MP3 player was disassembled, and its components were built into the speaker enclosure. The player’s buttons were relocated to the outer shell of the speaker box with a few pieces of wire, allowing him to easily control his music without having to build in a method for opening the case. Both the speaker and the MP3 player are powered by the batteries salvaged from the solar lamps, which is why he opted to mount both of the solar panels on the the side of the speaker enclosure rather than just one.

We like it even though the speaker looks a bit rough at the moment, especially where the MP3 player’s buttons were transplanted. After a few minutes of touch-up work however, it’ll look great.

If you’re interested in some more solar hacks, check out this solar-powered junkbot, these solar toys for kids, and this solar-powered WiFi repeater we featured in the past.

Researchers discover that cars can be hacked with music

car_dash

In 2009, [Dr. Stefan Savage] and his fellow researchers published a paper describing how they were able to take control of a car’s computer system by tapping into the CAN Bus via the OBD port. Not satisfied with having to posses physical access to a car in order to hack the computer system, they continued probing away, and found quite a few more attack vectors.

Some of the vulnerabilities seem to be pretty obvious candidates for hacking. The researchers found a way to attack the Bluetooth system in certain vechicles, as well as cellular network systems in others. Injecting malicious software into the diagnostic tools used at automotive repair shops was quite effective as well. The most interesting vulnerability they located however, was pretty unexpected.

The researchers found that some car entertainment systems were susceptible to specially-crafted MP3 files. The infected songs allowed them to inject malicious code into the system when burned to a CD and played. While this sort of virus could spread fairly easily with the popularity of P2P file sharing, it would likely be pretty useless at present.

The researchers say that while they found lots of ways in which it was possible to break into a car’s computer system, the attacks are difficult to pull off, and the likelihood that they would occur in the near future is pretty slim.

It does give food for thought however. As disparate vehicle systems become more integrated and cars become more connected via wireless technologies, who knows what will be possible? We just hope to never see the day where we are offered an anti-malware subscription with a new car purchase – at that point, we’ll just ride our bike, thanks.

[Picture courtesy of Autoblog]

Homebrew Mp3 player with some bonus features

When [falldeaf] set about making his own homebrew Mp3 player, he ended up at the same place we most do while looking into the subject, the wonderful Minty Mp3. Basing the design on [Adafruit Industries] popular board, we are presented The Mp3 Garbler.

First change of the project was to replace the sometimes difficult to find ST013, or the more expensive ST015T Mp3 decoder chip, and the CS4340 digital to analog cconverter with a single vs1001k, which we have checked out before. And while yes VLSI says that the 1001 series is a discontinued product, and it may be a bit hard to find now days, they also offer an updated model on their website, which should suit the application fine.

Next up is a useful LCD display sporting a Sparkfun lcd backpack, that shows us all the important to know music info. And finally there is a 10×14 led matrix display, that can be used to display all sort of user feedback icons, and is driven by a MAX6953, which we think is a pretty spiffy chip.

While there is no schematic, there are brd files, and source code available for your PIC18F452 or similar micro controller to complete your own

MP3 player barely larger than an SD card

If your board fabrication and soldering skills are up to it, you can make your own tiny MP3 player. This rendition is just about half again as large as a standard SD card, whose slot is on the bottom of the board seen above. The heavy lifting is taken care of by a VS1011 MP3 decoder which also has its own stereo headphone driver on-chip. There’s no display and it seems that most of the 4k of program memory on the PIC 18LF88 is being used. Too bad, we’d love to take this to the next level, attaching it to the head unit in a car and spoofing the communications as if this were a CD changer.

[via Hacked Gadgets]

Vintage car audio gets MP3 input

[Nali] is fixing up a 1966 Rambler Ambassador and decided to give the audio a bit of an upgrade. Instead of replacing the head unit he added a connector for audio input. The method he used is simple, inexpensive, and allows the original unit to continue functioning as a radio. He cut the feed wires going to the volume knob and patched in a headphone jack. The jack he used has an internal switch that is meant to switch off a pair of speakers when headphones are plugged in. The jack will allow the original signal from the radio tuner to pass through whenever there isn’t a connector plugged in. It seems like this is easier on older hardware than it is on modern equipment.

This isn’t where his entertainment enhancements stop. [Nali’s] working on a 7″ in-dash Linux machine so keep your eye on his thread to see what he comes up with.

[Thanks Joel383]

Homemade music player

Sadly, this pocket mp3 wav player doesn’t come close to the capabilities of even an iPod generation 1 yet, but you have to give [Owen] props for making it in less than 24 hours. The system consists of a Propeller MCU (cleverly wired to be swappable with “shields” similar to Arduino systems), SD card for song storage, and an LM386 for audio. While the setup is a little dull, and only plays through songs non stop with no controls whatsoever, it certainly is a good start in the right direction for a cheap and simple portable music player. Of course some planned changes are in the works, include an accelerometer (gesture based controls?), etched PCB, docking station, and a case. We’re surprised there is no form of screen planned, considering Owen appears to have a rather good handle on touch interfaces; perhaps he’s waiting for revision 3.