HitClips Custom Cartridge Hack Will Never Give Up, Let Down, Or Turn Around

HitClips Cartridge Hack

In August 2000, Tiger Electronics released HitClips: Music cartridges and players designed to easily share 60 second low quality Clips of a youngster’s favorite Hits. Various players were available, and individual cartridges were inexpensive enough to collect. And it’s these toy music players that [Guy Dupont] has been hacking quite successfully on as you can see in the video after the break and on [Guy]’s Hackaday.io page.

HitClips Cartridge Hack
Two PCB’s make up the new cartridge

[Guy]’s main goal was to make cartridges of his own that could not just hold more music than the short clips in the commercially made product, but could make use of modern technology that has matured since HitClips came onto the scene more than 20 years go.

The project’s components are relatively simple, but beautifully executed. An ATTINY84 didn’t work out, so a SAM D09 controller was put it place to to read files from a microSD card and translate the WAV file into the HitClips player’s format. 3d printed cartridges and custom PCB’s complete the hack, ensuring that you can use any of the many HitClips players to play something new for a change.

The end result is quite good, considering that it’s still just 8 bit audio on a 20 year old toy player. Tiger Electronics made another toy that’s quite popular with hackers of the musical kind.

11 thoughts on “HitClips Custom Cartridge Hack Will Never Give Up, Let Down, Or Turn Around

  1. Wow, that’s a really cool hack. I love the idea of hacking retro things to give them new functionality. It’s really too bad the quality of the player is so low. It basically kills all motivation to recreate it unless you’re as into hitclips as much as the creator, but I doubt anyone is into them as much as Guy. Great job.

    1. Nah. It’s ok, maybe even good that the quality is low. It’s a retro thing. Someone makes or plays with this to remember a different time. If it were turned into a full-quality music player then what would it be that each and every one of our cellphones is not?

      Personally I never got to have one of these when they were new so no nostalgia for me there. But I guess the equivalent would be for me to encode some music into really low-bitrate Real Audio files and maybe append the sound of a dialup modem connecting to the beginning.

      OMG, that’s actually sounding appealing. Somebody please help, save me from getting old.

      1. If you want to get the hit clips sound on a computer, just make a short edit of a song, then use a Decimator or bit crusher and set the sample rate to 8000 or 8 khz and set the bit depth to 7 bit in the settings for the effect. That was the audio speck for most hit clips and the computer generated equivalent is pretty much the same quality.

    1. In the video he says it can hold up to 5 hours of audio, and the quality is less bad than the original HitClips.

      What the other two contacts were for was the Yahoo Downloader. It had a recordable cartridge that held IRRC up to two minutes of audio, then the cartridge could be played in other HitClips players.

    1. Honestly someone needs to make that video happen lol. It’d be a really fun video and might be a nice feather in the cap for the maker.

      I mean if I was hiring someone for a prototype design and their resume included that I’d be blown away tbh.

  2. I remember seeing one of those and dismissing it since I wasn’t exactly the target audience, so I had no idea they had so many form factors. I thought they immediately crashed and burned. This is a cool hack. I love to see it when modern tech gives new tricks to retro things.

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