Old-Timey MP3 Player Blends Old Styling With New Technology

Old Timey MP3 Player

No, this isn’t the first commercial MP3 player ever produced. It’s a blend of the old and the new, old time looks with modern electronics. [viscomjim] recently made this MP3 Player from the ground up for the noble reason to give as a Christmas present.

[viscomjim] started by laying out a circuit using a solder-less breadboard to test his circuitry. He’s using PIC microcontroller to control the unit. There is an 20×4 LCD display, two rotary encoders with push buttons, a serial MP3 player module, real time clock and an infrared receiver. A wires-all-over mess wasn’t acceptable for this Christmas gift so [viscomjim] put on his learning cap and tried out Autotrax Dex PCB layout software. This was his first project with the software and everything went well. After the design was done, the board files were sent out to a fab shop. A few weeks later they were delivered. All the parts were wired up and tested and… it worked!

Next up was building a cabinet, this one was built out of wood and stained to give it a feeling of yesteryear. A pair of 4″ car speakers are responsible for sharing the tunes and are powered by a small amplifier and power supply mounted inside the enclosure. The front panel is laser cut clear acrylic and backed with a nicely prepared Photoshop’d parchment paper graphic. And those fancy grill covers, also laser cut acrylic, this time opaque brown in color.

There are only two knobs for control, the left is the volume and the right is the program changer. Push the left knob inward and the unit turns on or off, the right plays and pauses. This MP3 player plays music off the internal SD card on the MP3 module. [viscomjim] also went one step further and implemented some code to work with an Apple remote he had kicking around, hence the IR receiver mentioned above.

If you’d be interested in making something similar, you’re have-way there as [viscomjim] made his schematics available but, unfortunately, not his code. Want to build your own MP3 Player but want something a little smaller? Check this tiny one out.

15 thoughts on “Old-Timey MP3 Player Blends Old Styling With New Technology

  1. I wanted to do something similar to this with a style of radio from the time Art Bell from C2C AM came about.

    Wanted to include either an AM or FM transmitter into it that would broadcast out old episodes on a range (legal of course) so I could catch it through out my house (and to possibly anyone outside of it that would like to tune in.

    Was thinking of using a Raspberry Pi as the player connected to an external drive that would hold all the media, and using a little screen that would emulate a tuning dial and VU needle dials for the volume.

    To me, it would be my tribute to the program and a fun memorial to Art Bell.

        1. Also the chromed knobs stand out too much against the aged faceplate. Wood to match the case, or marbled acrylic rod would make some good replacements. A lathe probably isn’t needed, just cut a rod to length, sand the edges a bit, drill a hole in one end to fit a shaft collar with set screw, and drill a hole in the side for access to the screw.

          This is a beautiful build. I’m being overcritical ’cause I care.

    1. I really don’t mind the look as the juxtaposition of the old radio feel and the blue dot matrix is so obvious. But if you wanted to beld a display into the style of the box, then I think you should mimic a tuner bar. This could be done with eInk, but a hi res tft could do neat animations.

  2. Any ideas on the mp3 module used? I see its listed as an mdfly mp3 but on their spec sheet it only lists 199 songs max but a lot more was added to the sd card used by the OP. I am using a couple of WTV20’s for different projects but would be interested if anyone has any other options for ttl/spi/i2c audio module.

    1. Hi ShRT, the mp3 unit was indeed acquired from mdfly and was a great serial mp3 module. I purchased about 20 of them and now they no longer make them. HOWEVER, there is a great new unit from catalex and if you put “serial uart mp3 module” into the googlizer you will find it. Its about $5.50 and is awesome. It uses micro sd cards and I believe up to 32gb. Only four pins, VCC, GND, TX, RX. You don’t really need to use the TX if you don’t want feedback from the unit. It also has a 3.5mm jack on it for audio out. I have used quite a few of these also and they work wonderfully. Here is a link for one, mine came from ebay hong kong.

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