Fisher Price Bluetooth Speaker Hack

A good hacker hates to throw away electronics. We think [Matt Gruskin] must be a good hacker because where a regular guy would see a junky old 1980’s vintage Fisher Price cassette player, [Matt] saw a retro stylish Bluetooth speaker. His hack took equal parts of electronics and mechanics. It even required some custom 3D printing.

You might think converting a piece of old tech to Bluetooth would be a major technical challenge, but thanks to the availability of highly integrated modules, the electronics worked out to be fairly straightforward. [Matt] selected an off the shelf Bluetooth module and another ready-to-go audio amplifier board. He built a custom board to convert the stereo output to mono and hold the rotary encoder he used for the volume control. An Arduino (what else?) reads the encoder and also provides 3.3V to some of the other electronics.

The really interesting part of the hack is the mechanics. [Matt] managed to modify the existing mechanical buttons to drive the electronics using wire and hot glue. He also added a hidden power switch that doesn’t change the device’s vintage look. Speaking of mechanics, there’s also a custom 3D printed PCB holder allowing for the new board to fit in the original holder. This allows [Matt] to keep the volume control in its original location

We couldn’t help but think that if you were wanting to become a hardware hacker, there are a lot of lessons here. You might not be able to find a Fisher Price recorder, but the same electronics would allow you to convert lots of things into a functioning Bluetooth speaker. [Matt’s] methods for fitting everything together might not apply when you create your own Bluetooth backpack or flower pot. However, his ingenuity ought to inspire your own.

If you want something less original than a backpack, you could modify some headphones (check out the second video below), or maybe an old AM/FM radio.

 

14 thoughts on “Fisher Price Bluetooth Speaker Hack

  1. As I am a big fan of these types of audio devices, I think this is a neat hack. However, Bluetooth Audio Cassettes have been around for some time, and while not in the hacker spirit they work great. Of course you would have to charge those separately.

  2. Thinking some more about the implementation, to avoid the slightly kludgy power switch inside the tape player, one could place a micro-switch on the “record tab” location (the hole in the top corners of a cassette used to determine if it’s okay to record over the contents on the tape).
    Then you could have a tape with one side painted green, the other red with the tab removed for the red side so, when the cassette is inserted with the red-side facing out, if doesn’t turn the unit on, but when turned over to the green side, the micro-switch is pressed down and the unit is powered.

  3. You can buy an $8 BT speaker at the checkout stand in Wal-Mart, it would make a good basis for these hacks. It’s got the BT module with aux in, USB for charging, and a decent sized speaker with intelligent acoustic design for a proper sealed enclosure.

  4. Whoa… trippin! I had one of these when I was knee high to a capacitor! Now I’m wondering where it is. I have vague memories of it eating a tape towards the end of its life, so my people may have “retired” it for me. Cool project!

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