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.

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A wooden device with an LED display and speakers

The Inspirer Keeps Your Mood Up With Inspirational Quotes And Soothing Music

While some people enjoy the cold weather and long, dark nights in the Northern Hemisphere these days, others may find it hard to keep a positive mindset all through the winter. [Michael Wessel] decided he needed to do something about that and came up with The Inspirer, a desktop display that shows inspirational quotes and plays soothing music.

The design is deliberately bare-bones: a strip of wood, standing upright thanks to two metal brackets, onto which a bunch of components have been screwed, glued and taped. The actual display consists of a row of 14-segment LED modules that can show basic alphanumeric characters; these displays emit white light, but [Michael] added a red color filter in front to give them a more “retro” look.

This device is fully off-grid, so no Internet connection issues will disrupt your flow. A huge database of quotes and a selection of music tracks are stored on a pair of micro SD cards; an MP3 player module handles the music while an Arduino picks a quote, drives the display, and reads the buttons. You can select quotes based on a certain theme: examples include friendship, gardening, money, and love. But if you’re open to anything, you can just set it to “random” and get something from any of the 120 categories.

[Michael]’s simple and straightforward design should hopefully prove inspirational to many hardware enthusiasts. But if you’re looking for something more advanced, we featured a neat pomodoro timer that displays quotes a few weeks ago. Of course, this being Hackaday, we’ve also seen a clock based on literary quotes.

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Groovin’ With A Gesture-Controlled MP3 Player

Touchscreens are great, but they’re not always the perfect solution. Trying to operate one with gloves on (even alleged “touchscreen-friendly” ones) can be cumbersome at best, and if the screen is on a publicly-shared device, such as a checkout kiosk it can easily become a home for bacteria, viruses and all sorts of other nasty stuff.

That’s what [Norbert Zare] was thinking when he built his gesture-controlled MP3 player. It uses a PAJ7620U2 gesture sensor to register a few intuitive hand motions including finger twirls to control the volume, hand swipes to skip forward and backwards, and a flat hand to play and pause the song. It even has a motorized knob and cute cutout music notes that move to provide some visual feedback for the gestures, which you can see in-action in the video below. If this seems familiar, it’s because on Tuesday we took a look at the camera-based, glance-to-skip-tracks controller he built.

To actually play some music, he gutted an old MP3 player and hooked the solder pads from the control buttons up to an Arduino, which reads gesture information from the sensor and emulates the MP3 player’s buttons by setting the appropriate pins to HIGH and LOW. Finally, he topped the whole thing off with an LCD screen and a case.

The great thing about [Norbert]’s approach is that it isn’t just limited to an MP3 player — it can be extended to replace the buttons on pretty much any device. Because the Arduino only needs to be connected to the button inputs of the device, it should be relatively easy to adapt most existing tactile interfaces to be touch-free. Paired with this gesture-tracking macro keyboard we saw earlier in the year, the days of actually having to touch our tech may soon be behind us.

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Computer Vision Lets You Skip Songs With A Glance

Have you ever wished you could control your home automation devices with nothing more than a withering stare? Well then you’re in luck, as [Norbert Zare] has come up with a clever way of controlling an MP3 player with only your face. Though as you might imagine, the technique could be applied to a whole range of home automation tasks with some minor tweaks.

At the core of this project is the Raspberry Pi, specifically the 3 B+ model, though with the computational demands of computer vision you might want to bump it up to the latest-and-greatest Pi 4. From there you need to load up OpenCV and a model trained for face detection, which as luck would have it, tends to be a fairly common application for this technology.

With a relatively simple Python script, [Norbert] is able to determine when OpenCV detects he’s looking directly into the camera and fire off one of the Pi’s GPIO pins that’s been connected to the “Skip” button on a physical MP3 player. That’s right, you read that correctly. He’s using a dedicated MP3 player in the year 2021.

In all seriousness, we’re not really sure why [Norbert] went this route compared to simply playing the music on the Pi and controlling it through software, but this does serve as a good example of how you can interface with physical devices if need be. In any event, using the Python script he’s provided, you could easily modify the setup to control other tasks, virtual or otherwise.

While face recognition can be a scary thing out in the wild, we do think it has some interesting applications within the home, so long as the user is the one who is in control of where their data ends up.

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Kid Friendly MP3 Cube

3D Printed Preschooler Proof MP3 Player Takes A Beat-ing

Prototyping new ideas can be a lot of fun, but putting new projects in a durable enclosure can be a difficulty. This is especially the case when the user of this product is one of the most destructive forces in nature: A toddler! This is the circumstance that [blue blade] found himself in when he wanted to build a durable MP3 player for his grandson, and you can see the results of his work below the break.

The hardware is simple: A 16850 lithium-ion battery powers an MP3 Decoder/Amplifier module that plays MP3s stored on a Micro SD card. A speaker, power switch, and micro USB powered battery charger complete the build. What stands out most is the enclosure. Why?

When children are involved, durability isn’t a matter of product lifetime, it’s also a matter of safety. Items that are easily broken aren’t just useless, they can be dangerous. With this in mind, [blue blade] built a brightly colored enclosure with extra thick walls joined by metal bolts. Externally, a rounded cover bolts over the charger connector and Micro SD card slot. The only other protrusion is a lighted rocker switch for powering the MP3 player on and off.

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Clay Pot MP3 Player Whipped Up With The Freedom-K64F

In the streaming era, few of us think about MP3s on a day to day basis anymore. Our music collection is managed by warring executives in streaming companies from far-off lands. However, for [vinod], they’re still useful — seeing as he just built himself an MP3 player that fits in a clay pot.

The build is based on the FRDMK64F development board, packing a powerful 120 MHz ARM chip. This has enough grunt to decode MP3s on the fly, using the Helix MP3 decoder library. The MP3s themselves are streamed off an SD card, using the faster SDIO access method rather than relying on slower SPI. Once decoded, the resulting PCM audio data is shifted out via a DAC using the chip’s DMA hardware, allowing for smooth, glitch-free playback. Output to a big woofer is via a 15 W class D amplifier, with the whole rig powered from a USB powerbank.

With all the electronics piled on the back of a big woofer speaker with lashings of hot glue, the final result is quite imposing; all the more so when installed neatly inside a clay pot acting as a bass reflex enclosure. We’ve seen some concrete cast speakers before, but not nearly enough hacker projects in clay. Please rectify this, and inform us once you’ve done so. Thanks in advance — video after the break!

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Simple MP3 Player Hides Home Automation Brilliance

Like bubble wrap or the corkscrew, plenty of everyday objects have lost almost all ties to their original purpose. It could be that the original product had no market but was able to find one in an unexpected place, or simply that the original use case disappeared. We think that this MP3 player for children might arrive at a similar fate as a home automation controller thanks to a recent project by [Sebastian].

The MP3 player is known as a Jooki and works by using small figurines (and a few buttons) to control the device. Different figurines cause the MP3 player to change playlists, for example, but it turns out that the device is capable of communicating over MQTT. This means that [Sebastian] was able to use the MQTT messages from the Jooki to do all kinds of things beyond its intended use with openHAB, an open-source home automation system, such as dimming the lights and closing the blinds when he puts his son to bed.

This platform has considerable potential for hacking thanks to the lightweight communications system it uses under the hood. The Jooki is a little pricey, but if you happen to have one around, it’s an impressive tool that can go well beyond its original intended use.