Build Your Own 3D Printed Bluetooth Headphones

A few years back, [Shannon Ley] wondered how hard it would be to build a pair of Bluetooth headphones from scratch. Today, we have our answer. The Homebrew Headphones website is devoted to just one thing: explaining how you can use common components and some 3D printed parts to build an impressively comprehensive pair of wireless headphones for around $50 USD.

The headphones pair a CSR8645 Bluetooth audio receiver with a TP4056 USB-C charging module, a 500 mAh LiPo pouch battery, a pair of Dayton Audio CE38MB-32 drivers, and replacement ear covers designed for the Bose QuietComfort QC15. Some perfboard, a couple buttons, a resistor, and an LED round out the parts list.

All of the components fit nicely into the meticulously designed 3D printed frame, and assembly is made as simple as possible thanks to an excellent step-by-step guide. It’s all so well documented that anyone with even basic soldering experience should be able to piece it together without too much fuss.

Of course, these aren’t the first 3D printed headphones we’ve ever seen. But the quality of the documentation and attention to detail really make these stand out.

An Affordable Reference Mic You Can Build Yourself

Reference mics are vital tools for audio work. They’re prized for their flat frequency response, and are often used for characterizing the audio response of a room or space. OpenRefMic aims to be an open source design for producing reference mics without paying exorbitant retail prices.

The heart of the build is a preamplifier that runs off standard 48 V phantom power, and is responsible for both biasing the electret microphone element and acting as a buffer for the mic signal. It’s designed specifically to work with the PUI AOM-5024L-HD-F-R mic capsule, chosen for its good performance and low noise characteristics. However, other electric mics should work, too. The hardware is wrapped up in a 3D printed case which can readily be made on most basic printers. It’s complete with a press-fit grille that holds the mic capsule in place.

The prime goal of the project is low noise; the project creator, [loudifier], notes that most commercial reference mics focus first on flat frequency response and then reducing noise. OpenRefMic performs well in this area, and its lack of a perfectly flat frequency response is countered with calibrated equalization. It also works with regular pro-grade XLR cables and phantom power, rather than needing fancy laboratory-spec cables and interfaces.

The final result is a credit to [loudifier], who demonstrates a strong understanding of the principles of reference mic design. We’ve seen some other great low-cost reference mics recently, too!

Unraveling The Hackaday Podcast Hidden Message

When Elliot and I record the raw audio for the weekly podcast, it’s not unusual for us to spend the better part of two hours meandering from topic to topic. During one of these extended gab sessions, we wondered if it would be possible to embed a digital signal into the podcast in such a way that it could be decoded by the listener. Of course, storing and transmitting data via sound is nothing new — but the podcast format itself introduced some level of uncertainty.

Would the encoded sound survive the compression into MP3? Would the syndication service that distributes the file, or the various clients listeners will use to play it back, muddy the waters even further? Was it possible that the whole episode would get flagged somewhere along the line as malicious? After a bit of wild speculation, the conversation moved on to some other topic, and the idea was left to stew on one of our infinite number of back burners.

That is, until Elliot went on vacation a couple weeks back. In place of a regular episode, we agreed that I’d try my hand at putting together a special edition that consisted of pre-recorded segments from several of the Hackaday contributors. We reasoned this simplified approach would make it easier for me to edit, or to look at it another way, harder for me to screw up. For the first time, this gave me the chance to personally oversee the recording, production, and distribution of an episode. That, and the fact that my boss was out of town, made it the perfect opportunity to try and craft a hidden message for the Hackaday community to discover.

I’m now happy to announce that, eleven days after the EMF Camp Special Edition episode was released, ferryman became the first to figure out all the steps and get to the final message. As you read this, a coveted Hackaday Podcast t-shirt is already being dispatched to their location.

As there’s no longer any competition to see who gets there first, I thought it would be a good time to go over how the message was prepared, and document some interesting observations I made during the experiment.

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Faux-Retro “Tape” Player Runs On ESP32 And 80s Vibes

At first glance, this gorgeous retro-styled audio player built by [Max Kern] could absolutely pass for the genuine article. But then you take a closer look and realize that the “tape” it’s playing is actually an animation running on a 320 x 240 IPS display, and the Play and Rewind buttons on the front aren’t the chunky electromechanical affairs of yesteryear but actually cleverly repurposed MX keyboard switches.

By now you’re probably realizing that this player is quite a bit smaller than you first imagined, which in turn, means that it even its case is a modern fabrication. While it might perfectly encapsulate the look and feel of a piece of 1980s consumer electronics, it was squirted out on a thoroughly modern desktop 3D printer.

Even so, [Max] made sure to include draft angles in the CAD design and and a distinctive separation line so the case looked like it was injection molded. Following similar logic, he decided against using a modern rechargeable battery pack to power the electronics, opting instead for a more era-appropriate set of AA batteries.

In terms of hardware, the custom PCB is home to an ESP32 WROOM, a MAX98357A I2S audio amplifier, a FT231XS USB-to-serial chip, with enough passives and regulators to keep them all well fed and happy. The ESP32 has more than enough computational horsepower to chew through MP3 files, which are conveniently loaded via an SD slot built into the side of the player. As the player was actually intended for audio books, onboard playback is limited to a mono speaker; though there is a 3.5 mm audio jack to plug in a pair of headphones for when the built-in speaker isn’t up to the task.

Check out the video after the break to see how the player is assembled, as well as a demonstration of its simple three-button user interface. It looks like a joy to use, though the lack of fast forward and rewind sound effects took us a bit by surprise given the otherwise impeccable attention to detail. We’ll assume there’s some technical limitation that makes this particularly difficult to implement, and that their absence is currently keeping [Max] up at night.

As impressive as the final product is, we can’t say it’s a surprise. Frankly, we wouldn’t expect anything less from [Max] at this point. His adaptive OLED macro pad wowed us back in 2020, and his ZeroBot is still one of the slickest designs for a DIY two-wheeled robots we’ve ever seen.

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LMN-3: Putting The ‘OP’ In Open Source Synthesizers

Some projects you come across simply leave you in awe when you look at the thought and the resulting amount of work that went into it, not only for the actual implementation, but everything around it. Even more so when it’s a single-developer open source project. [Stone Preston]’s synth / sampler / sequencer / DAW-in-a-box LMN-3 absolutely fits the description here, and it seems like he has set his heart on making sure everyone can built one for themselves, by providing all the design files from case down to the keycaps.

The LMN-3 (LMN as in “lemon”, not “comes before the OP“) is intended as a standalone, portable digital audio workstation, and is built around a Raspberry Pi 4 with a HyperPixel display for the user interface. The UI itself, and with it the core part of the software, was created using the Tracktion Engine, which itself uses the JUCE framework and combines your typical synthesizer, sequencer, and sampler features with the DAW part to handle recording, editing, and mixing. The remaining hardware is a custom-designed PCB with a set of function and keyboard buttons, along with a pitch bend joystick and four rotary encoders with push buttons that serve as main input handlers. Oh yes, and a Teensy board.

The UI is actually entirely controlled via MIDI commands, and custom firmware on the Teensy is translating the input events from buttons, encoders, and joystick accordingly. This essentially decouples the hardware from the software, and using a cross-platform framework underneath, you can also run the UI standalone on your computer and use any 3rd-party MIDI controller you like. Or then, as [Stone] thought really about everything, use a hardware emulator he created in addition. You could even leave out the Raspberry Pi and software altogether and turn this into a pure MIDI controller. If that sounds tempting, but you’re looking for something with more knobs and sliders instead of buttons, check out the Traktorino. And if you actually prefer a mouse as input device, there’s always something running in a browser.

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A Lab-Grade Measurement Microphone For Not A Lot

The quality of any measurement can only be as good as the instrument used to gather it, and for acoustic measurements, finding a good enough instrument can be surprisingly difficult. Commonly available microphones can be of good quality, but since they are invariably designed for speech or music, they need not have the flat or wide enough response and low noise figure demanded of an instrumentation microphone.

Microphones for measurement purposes can be had for a very large outlay, but here’s [Peter Riccardi] with a unit designed around an array of MEMS capsules that delivers comparable performance for a fraction of the cost.

The result is both an extremely interesting project for those of us with an interest in audio, and a thorough delve into some aspects of its design for those who are merely curious. It uses four capsules in an effort to cancel out induced electrical noise, and boasts some impressive comparative measurements when tested against a commercial measurement microphone. We could almost see ourselves building this project.

Interested in audio technology? Try our Know Audio series.

picture of finished mp3 player that uses a cartridge to select songs

An MP3 Player That Gives Off Nintendo Vibez

We’re definitely pretty fond of the DIY MP3 players here at Hackaday, but we don’t think we’ve seen one like CartridgeMP3 from [jpet26] before.

All the electrical components are what we’ve come to expect. [jpet26] uses the popular VS1053 decoder to read MP3 files stored on an SD card. He also includes a potentiometer for adjusting volume, a USB C port for power and programming, a headphone jack for the audio output, a general-purpose status LED, and an on/off switch.

But what really caught our attention is the form factor [jpet26] selected for his MP3 player. Though the MP3 files are stored on an SD card, he uses a cartridge interface, similar to that of a Nintendo 64 or Game Boy of yesteryear, to choose which MP3 to play from the SD card. The cartridge interface is tied to a few GPIO pins and by reading the status of each pin, the device determines which MP3 to select.

You could say that the cartridge is a little unnecessary, and we wouldn’t argue with you. The cartridge doesn’t actually store the MP3 files, the SD card does. It might make a bit more sense if the cartridge housed the SD card itself with a few select MP3s stored on the card. That would be a quirky way of sharing your favorite playlists with your friends. So, yeah some clumsy handshaking there, but who isn’t guilty of that from time to time? We like it and thought you might appreciate it as well.

Cool MP3 player, [jpet26]! May we suggest a speaker for V2? And maybe some flex cables.

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