Tunes In The Icebox

A couple of years back [Bryan’s] iPod went on the fritz. It wasn’t completely broken, as long as he kept it really cold it still worked. So what was he to do with the crippled device? We’ve all heard of elevator music. [Bryan] decided to invent refrigerator music.

First he needed some speakers. A trip to the Goodwill store netted him a pair for under $5. They need A/C power, and the project depends on sensing when the door to the refrigerator is open. He killed two birds with one stone by adding a light socket outlet adapter. This provides a place to plug in the speakers’ power adapter, and it only gets juice when the door is opened. The gimpy iPod just constantly loops through the tracks stored within, but you’ll only hear it when the door is open and the speakers receive power. Of course the iPod will eventually run its own battery down so [Bryan] ran an extension cord out the side of the door to a wall outlet. This interrupts the door seal and we wish there were another way to keep it contained within.

29 thoughts on “Tunes In The Icebox

  1. now i know some of you will claim that the light is operated through the main board or something like that.; but really look at this guys shelf’s and the contents thereof this is a low end ref and that light is gonna be on a normal open circut

  2. Wow…just wow.

    Anyways what about a 5volt adapter and the attached to the same light socket and a bank of capacitors on v5 line. Kinda long way around but i am guessing you don’t want to open the fridge.

    1. Oh yeah.

      I’m thinking cut a hole in the feaux rubber door seal, run the power chord through it and then seal it up with silicone window sealant. It is mostly flexible, designed to insulate, and does well in the temp ranges it will be subject to.

      Alternatively use a flat ribbon cable that can be found in embedded components like hard drives. That will yield a nearly perfect seal without modification.

    1. If you read his site he says he left it in his car in the summer and it screwed up the chip that controls the headphones, so I guess replacing the HD wouldn’t do anything, but putting a really teeny-weeny peltier on it might be an idea.

  3. I should have mentioned that I am a renter, so I had to keep the build from damaging the fridge, and also that the iPod looks like it works perfectly well (screen etc) even when it’s not cold, just no audio comes out. So I don’t think it’s the HDD. I also replaced the headphone jack and it is still behaving the same way, so now I’m at a loss as to what actually broke. If anyone has any insights, please share!

    1. Sounds like thermal stress might have cracked a weak solder joint.

      I don’t know iPod internals. Is it possible to run it while open, and press on various components or parts of the board to see if the audio cuts back in?

      If so, you might be able to find out what needs resoldering. And if it’s a component that can’t easily be resoldered, perhaps you can fold a bit of paper to apply the right amount of pressure at the right location when the case is closed; I’ve fixed a few things that way.

      1. I’ve done the same paper trick with 3rd party batteries that don’t quite depress the battery terminals enough. I’ve also troubleshot weak solder joints with pressure. It works pretty well if you can find the spot. A good magnifying glass may also provide the answer if you’re lucky.

  4. This is a rather dumb build but if you really want to improve it, use a pair of cord grips and go through the side of the unit. Air / water tight and it doesn’t interrupt the gasket anymore.

  5. interesting build
    but WHY ?

    someone sneaking your snacks late at night?
    if so, you might do better off with an externally (and wirelessly) mounted “alarm”

  6. Interesting, but probably more worth while to actually fix the iPod.. sounds like a hard drive problem, so for the money investing you could replace the drive and have a fully working ipod.

    Also, if it is going to be CONSTANTLY playing songs, and only ‘amplified’ when the door is open, if the hard drive is already dying then i don’t think it will last long if it is constantly loading songs 24/7, so you’ll have to replace the hard drive soon anyway!!

  7. I figured out how to solve the guy’s problem AND use a microcontroller! Woo!

    He needs to introduce circuitry to the door-close-detection switch that will enable the light when the ipod’s battery is low (or just periodically, ever X hours or so). Then he can charge off of the light jack. Of course, this means he’d either have to count on the speakers being muffled sufficiently by the closing of the door or else use a second bit of circuitry to make sure they’re only enabled with the door really is open and not just when the light circuit is open.

  8. Apple acknowledges this as a problem regardless of whether or not your device is still under warranty. You can just call and they’ll send you a new one. I’ve done it personally.

  9. Hear music in an elevator where you’re stuck for a while with nothing to do: has a point.

    Hear music while you actively search something in your fridge for a very short while: pointless.

    What are all the “because I can” people waiting for to make a strawberry cracker? And how did this guy figure out his player worked when cold? Did he expect to say “well, if it works when chilled, it partly solves my problem”? That’s about as good a solution as saying “my car leaks oil, but if keeping a finger on the hole stops it I’ll be alright”.

    1. >Hear music while you actively search something in your fridge for a very short while: pointless.

      A little nonsense now and then is relished by the wisest men.

      >And how did this guy figure out his player worked when cold?

      Physics and intelligence. Batteries have two properties: they perform best/release their charge fastest when warm (and are more likely to have heaters on-board), and retain their charge best when they’re cold. The reason for this is because you can pack electrons in greater density when they’re not at higher energy states. As a battery degrades over time, its cells become less able to retain charge, so in order to continue powering a device, the remaining cells must be packed with a greater charge density, and the best way to get a greater charge density is to cool it more during its charge cycle–the heater will take care of warming the cells, because it doesn’t degrade as quickly.

      This is actually how science is primarily discovered: serendipity while someone is doing something goofy, trivial, or otherwise pointless. Something unexpected happens, “zOMG, why does my iPod work in the fridge?” then they might figure out, “Oh! It’s a property of batteries! I bet I could apply the same concept to….” and then you end up with something revolutionary, like superconducting, despite people criticizing the original, now-totally-not-pointless activity.

      Of course, you could just be trolling, in which case, troll on… 1/10.

  10. I actually kinda like the idea of hearing music as you’re poking around and looking for something to eat in the fridge. :) Well done with repurposing just before y’all toss the iPod for recycling. :D

    At least the iPod gets to squeeze out its last service to humanity before finally going 100% kaput. :)

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