Homebuilt MP3-Player!

On this page I will describe how I built my own MP3-player

In the left circle you can see my MP3-player with the control-keyboard lying on it. Recent the keyboard has been replaced by a infrared sensor to allow remote control. The computer-display in the right circle is optional and can be used for compiling a playlist (nice at parties, for example).

For a long time I had plans to build an stand-alone MP3-player. Until that time I always played my MP3's through my computer, but a stand-alone player would be a much nice solution as you will see, if you read on!

- Pentium 100+ processor clocked at 75 Mhz,
- Some Socket 5 mainboard,
- 2 Simm's of 4 Mb memory each (8Mb total, which is overkill, but the smallest I had...),
- 1 Gb harddisk which is overkill as well, because I only use it for startup...,
- 16 speed CD-ROM player (also overkill. Less speed is even better because it produces less noise),
- floppy drive, which I as a matter of fact don't use at all...,
- ISA Sound Card, - ISA "raiser-card" to fit the ISA cards in the desktop casing,
- ISA Video Card, only necessary to use MLT software for the LCD display,
- 2x16 LCD display
and this all placed in an old case which I sprayed black to look a bit like a stereo-component.

March 2001: I completed the construction of the Infrared Remote Control Interface. It works just fine, although it didn't work with the remote control of my stereo receiver. Right now I am using a simple Sony CD-player remote control.

Dec. 2000: I got a broken CD-player from Santa-Claus (Sinterklaas voor de Nederlanders). This is very nice because I want to mount my complete MP3-player in the casing of this CD-player, so it will look like a real (normal) CD-player. I also want to build a serial device which can be used as a completely programmable infrared receiver. That way I can control my MP3-player with the remote control of my stereo receiver.

Nov. 2000: I wanted so more functionality on the LCD-function, so I tried MLT TSR software. At first it didn't work, because not only the serial port of the mainboard was broken (remember?), but the parallel port as well. I traded my mainboard for a working mainboard and then MLT worked properly. MLT turned out to be more functional then Mpxplay LCD support, but I got it to work even better with MLT Ext TSR software.

Sept. 2000: While I was shopping for a project for my school, I bumped into a very inexpensive (20 guilders, that's about 10 dollars) 2x16 LCD display. I bought it, blew it with 12V (remember, the red wire in a computer is 5V, not the yellow...), bought another one and got it to work with Mpxplay. This requires the display to be attached to the parallel port. Read the documentation that comes with Mpxplay and/or MLT to find out how to connect the wires correctly.

July 2000: I got my hands on an ISA raiser-card and an ISA sound card, so everything fitted into the desktop case now. I painted the desktop casse black to make it a bit look like a stereo-component.

June 2000: Another problem was that the video card (still required for problem-solving) and the sound card where PCI-cards and didn't fit in the desktop-size casing. In one way or another I needed to lower the total height of the mainboard and the plugin cards. I thought about a so-called "raiser-card". This card plugs in the mainboard and the plugin cards plug into this raiser-card. This way the plugin card is rotated 90 degrees, so it is parallel to the mainboard. After a while of searching for such a raiser-card I realised these cards are only available in ISA size.

June 2000: The player was complete to be fired up for the first time. It didn't work very well at first. The first problem was, Mpxplay didn't recognise the soundcard and was playing MP3-files in an incredible speed, without sound. It was caused because the soundcard needed special DOS-drivers to function, because it was a PCI model. After getting these drivers to work, my MP3-player produced its first sounds!!!

June 2000: I bought an old P100 mainboard and Pentium 100+ from a friend. The motherboard was broken in a way that the serial port didn't work anymore, but that didn't matter at that moment.

June 2000: There was a big computer market in the RAI, in Amsterdam, where I went looking for a new and working powersupply for my HP Vectra. I didn't found one, but I found a desktop casing including a powersupply for 20 guilders (10 dollar). This was so cheap I had to buy it, so I abandoned the idea of using the HP Vectra. This cheap casing was going to be the new casing for my MP3 player.
I also bought a cheap CD-ROM drive (16 speed) and a PCI video card. I had some stuff now, but still not near enough...

April 2000: On a big model flying event in Germany (I am flying modelairplanes) I bought a cheap (40 guilders, which is about 20 dollars) PCI Soundblaster sound card for the MP3 player. At least something that worked already...

April 2000: I accidently bumped into the first computer I wanted to use to build my MP3-player: A HP Vectra Pentium 100 (My school dumped the computer as being to old). It consisted only of the casing, the mainboard and the powersupply (which was broken and beyond repair). I went looking for a processor and new powersupply but couldn't find something suitable, so I couldn't really do much with it.

April 2000: Only now I had time to start building as I was in South-Africa when I got inspired to build my player. Back in Holland I already had some stuff laying around (hard disk and some memory) to use for whatever what computer-project of maybe even an home-build MP3-player.

Nov. 1999: As I was surfing the internet I came along the page of the MP3 Shadow page of J. Richa. This article really inspired me and incouraged me to build my own stereo-component-look-a-like MP3 player!

Here are some useful links, if you want to build your own MP3 player:

Mp3's In Your Car - The Mp3 Shadow My inspiration!
MP3-player in a Miata! If you like MP3 and have a Miata (or any other car...)
EMPEG Car MP3-Player The commercial version of the MP3-player in Miata...
Oscar MP3 player homepage Buy one or built your own one
Eigenbau MP3 geraete German homepage about Home-built MP3 players
Linux MP3 Player Project Page Everything you want to know about Home-built MP3 players and not only Linux...
MAP (MP3 Audio Player) homepage All about the MAP player, which features IR-control and display-control
MP3 Techpage All the latest technic for building your MP3 Player.
MP3 Projects A lot of people are building there own MP3 Players these days...

Mpxplay DOS MP3 Player software The one and only way to play your MP3z in DOS!
MP3 LCD TSR (MLT) homepage A little TSR program to control an LCD display on a MP3-player
MLT Ext, an extended version of MLT with some extra features A little TSR program to control an LCD display on a MP3-player
MAP - MP3 Audio Player The MAP-player also features its own software, check it out
MP3 Player for all platforms and CPU's! If you like MP3 and programming...

Universal Infrared Receiver For MP3-player
Universal Infrared Receiver for your computer...
Infrared to PC interface Control your PC with your remote control
HD-44780 based LCD displays For MP3 Player...

Napster! If you don't know it; you HAVE to try this one!
Outlaw 41 in MP3 Nice music!

Deef, 01-02-2001