Walkmp3rson Is An MP3 Player Like Sony Never Made

If you weren’t already well aware, the 90s are like, so hot right now, and that includes cassette tapes for some reason. (Even though we personally didn’t have a CD player until 1998, they were around as early as 1982.) But if you don’t dig the quality of cassettes, or if you’d just rather carry around more than 45-120 minutes worth of music, than [John Edgar Park]’s Walkmp3rson is definitely the build for you. That’s pronounced ‘Walkperson’, as in a 21st century MP3-based update of the classic Walkman.

Inside this amazing 3D printed enclosure, you’ll find an Adafruit Feather RP2040 controlling the screen, handling input from the rotary encoder and those sweet mechanical keyswitches, and of course, playing audio files from SD cards through the amplifier breakout board. And no, this isn’t just another MP3 player — well, it kind of is, but the presentation really goes a long way here.

There are tons of retro-modern nods, like the cassette reel animation that plays on the TFT screen, the boxy enclosure, and the fact it involves physical media. Oh yes — you get to insert an SD card whenever you want to change albums/discographies/genres/whatever. In fact, this would be a great use of older, smaller SD cards. You could go all out and make tiny album art to slip inside those milky plastic cases. Check out the brief demo video after the break.

Looking to play your tunes on a microcontroller, but not a fan of the Walkman aesthetic? In June we covered a similar audio player powered by the ESP32 that does an uncanny impersonation of a portable tape deck that you might be interested in.

28 thoughts on “Walkmp3rson Is An MP3 Player Like Sony Never Made

      1. It looks juvenile. I was in my thirties at the time.

        That said, I knew someone who had one. She played her Raffi tapes on it, no fighting with the parents for the main stereo.

        I always wanted a Walkman Professional.

  1. Yeah I was thinking the same thing, looks like fisher price toy. Would be better if you got a real cassette player that’s broken and put your bits inside that. Think it would look better and of the time period.

    1. I would have to disagree, and commend this maker for their efforts. It pains me greatly to see people destroying a piece of old tech just for the look of it. Some of us enjoy older technology for more than just the aesthetics. Admiring the mechanics and engineering behind long-obsolete technology, and repairing what’s broken. If folks are able to replicate that look using modern methods, then it opens up a world of retro-tech mashups like what this is trying to do that can be truly adapted to the parts that are needed.

  2. Part of me agrees with the general sentiment. A change in color scheme might have avoided this. However, another part of me is immediately thinking of the Talkboy tape recorder and the possibility of bringing that back with additional effects.

  3. I think it’s cool! Would love to see a version that has a little tray that opens where you could put a SD card in the way you do a casette (with spring contacrs coming in from the side)! Would be less electronically robust though.

  4. I had a Panasonic “wallman” with AM/FM radio that when closed didn’t show the tape, but had an lcd panel with a tape counter displayed. So it’s possible to make a faux 1990 walkman using an old not backlight LCD screen and more rounded form. I think that making the case like that could be interesting.

  5. While less popular and practical I think that CompactFlash cards would be a better choice. After all the whole point is to recapture something of the flavor of using a Walkman. CF cards are the biggest flash cards, way bigger than SD and provide the best approximation of the physical, tactile experience of using tapes. For example you could print album cover art and logos and put them into the cards. Enjoy just examining a lineup of your cards, swapping them in and out of the player, etc.

    1. According to the BOM they’re kailh whites which should have a click, but any cherry MX style switch should fit, given the state of the mechanical keyboard community you should be able to get something that suits!

  6. I really don’t want to poke holes in the project, as I love it. But, I feel having those four buttons being so proud from the case makes it un-pocketable. Perhaps a MK2 with the keys sunk down inside the orange portion might make it a more usable device. :)

  7. It should have a cassette door that opens and 3d printed cassettes with a magnet in a corner on each side and then a hall sensors to detect when you open and change sides of the tape

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