Wireless MiniDisc Walkman Has Bluetooth Inside

A MiniDisc Walkman, a MiniDisc and a pair of BlueTooth earphones

For most people, MiniDisc is just one of countless media formats that became obsolete when music went online. Not so for MiniDisc enthusiasts, many of whom still use a MiniDisc deck at home and a MiniDisc Walkman on the go. Unfortunately, high-end headphones these days often come with Bluetooth connectivity only, necessitating the use of clunky signal converters that ruin the tidy compactness of those portable players. [Daniel Rojas] cleverly solved this problem by directly adding Bluetooth functionality to a Sony MZ-R500 MiniDisc Walkman.

MiniDisc Walkmen are famously compact devices, so adding a full circuit board to one wasn’t easy. [Daniel] managed to squeeze the PCB from a Schosche wireless audio transmitter inside the front of the Walkman, next to the control buttons. He connected the audio signal to the transmitter’s input and rewired the little-used “End Search” button to become the “Pair” button. Sadly, the recording head and some associated hardware had to be removed in order to make space for the new component, turning the Walkman into a playback-only device.

A MiniDisc Walkman, opened up and showing a BlueTooth module inside
Lots of flying wires and Kapton tape, but it all fits.

The project’s GitHub page contains a detailed walk-through of the modification process that should enable anyone to reproduce the end result. [Daniel] didn’t arrive at the optimal solution in one go however, and he describes the three major revisions of his project in separate sections. In the first iteration for example, the Bluetooth module caused interference on the audio signal, which [Daniel] solved by adding isolation transformers in version two. He also includes a page full of technical information he collected during his project, which will come in handy if you ever want to perform other modifications on your MiniDisc Walkman.

We’ve seen several impressive projects where Bluetooth interfaces were added to pre-Bluetooth gadgets, ranging from tube radios to 8-track players. Some, like the iPod Nano, are even more space-constrained than a MiniDisc Walkman.

17 thoughts on “Wireless MiniDisc Walkman Has Bluetooth Inside

  1. I have two used Minidisc players. The first is playback only, hence I boughtthe next one I saw at a garage sale.

    The bluetooth transmitters I’ve bought are pretty small. Im tempted just to glue one to the bottom of a portable CD player, but then I can’t use it with other things.

    1. if it’s a Sony there’s a high chance that they have some kind of anchor point for an external battery attachment, for AA type batteries, if so I think 3d printing a support should be possible

    2. I’m a Mini disc enthusiast I own x4 Mini disc portable recorders Sharp, Sony, Jvc home Mini disc recorder. There are several portable rechargeable wireless Bluetooth adaptors trans/receive. I would prefer to not lose any Mini Disc features and would just externally mount the Bluetooth device. This allows the option to use the Bluetooth with other equipment when not using the Mini disc.

  2. I wanted to make this, it was more stream lined though. I wanted to have a main motherboard with all the Bluetooth components on it, then have different flex cables for boards. And the button to turn it on and off would be a capacitive sensor that you hold.

    The problem is I don’t know much on the component side, I was looking for a Bluetooth module but I don’t know how to code the generic Chinese ones. Now I’m thinking an esp32 might be a better option. Also I’m slowly finding out that flex cables are expensive.

  3. I miss my old minidisc player, I wish I still had it. I had a sharp one in high school, before I got my first MP3 player with 64MB of storage (not expandable). The good old days.

    I appreciate this post for nostalgic purposes.

  4. Could more up to date hardware push the storage density of a minidisc higher, or is it limited by the properties of the coating on the platter/disk itself?

    I’m not saying the format will ever be revived but it would be interesting to see just how far it could be pushed before we hit the physical limitations of the material. I’d cobble together a portable player capable of reading higher density data if I could squeeze a half gig of higher quality music onto it.

      1. Given it used a red laser I’m sure a lower wavelength could store more data. I always thought it was a shame they didn’t catch on as computer drives as they were cheaper than flash discs at the time.

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