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The MAKE Open Source MP3 Player @ the Holiday Gadget Guide

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MAKE is contributing a few posts to the Holiday Gadget Guide for FM, we thought we’d be different and show kits and things you can build yourself… The first, is our MP3 player – Wouldn’t it be great to actually own your music player? Like really own it? Building it from the ground up and being able to always improve it? Well, we’re trying to do that with the MAKE open source MP3 player…

“In 2001, artist and designer Raphael Abrams went looking for a new challenge. After some long and careful consideration, he came upon the idea of designing and building his own open source mp3 player kit. His criteria? First, it had to be easy to build. Second, it had to be open sourced. Finally, and most importantly, it had to be more than just a handheld device — it had to connect easily to many interfaces, everything from simple button pushing to parallel ports to very powerful serial modes.

It took several iterations, but eventually, he came up with the Daisy, an easy-to-build, pocket-sized mp3 player. Daisy’s audio quality is as good as an iPod, can access 65,000 tracks, play 48khz WAV files as well as mp3s, and unlike an iPod, you can change the battery.

But the really Big Idea behind the Daisy is the ease with which it interfaces with so many devices. It is the perfect MP3 kit for Makers, for it easily integrates with kiosks, displays, art installations, or just about anything else the maker community can dream up.”Link, info & MAKE store.

44 thoughts on “The MAKE Open Source MP3 Player @ the Holiday Gadget Guide

  1. DGary – it’s all open source, go for it — even ipod linux didn’t do ogg at first, but the good news is, we can all work together and even do more revisions if needed.

    TheThompsonFive – we can lower the price, just get a lot of people to buy these.

  2. I agree in wishing it were cheaper Thomson. By the time you add the SD card, this is the same price as an iPod nano. Too bad they don’t sell the PCB only, it’s the kit or nothing.

  3. gang – it can and will get cheaper, we need to sell a bunch that’s it really – so support MAKE and open source hardware and help out :)

    if you can get an ipod nano, but then you’d be ilike ieveryone ielse.

  4. I understand the economics involved in all electronics (remember the $100 Walkman anyone?). It’s sort of a chicken/egg problem. People who can afford ipods don’t need them, and people who hack their own gadgets out of necessity can’t afford them. The trick is to find the magic price point in the middle. Unfortunately, for me anyway, you have not yet reached that point.

  5. TheThompsonFive – it’s interesting, i hear this a lot “i’d pay extra for schematics and source for my gadget/mp3player/whatever device/” i think out player isn’t something like an ipod that you’ll toss in a year – it’s meant to used to learn, for projects, it’s always yours, you can always 100% fix it, you can improve it – it’s not as cheap as an ipod, but what do you want to spend your money on and support? building one of these will give you hours of enjoyment… that’s the way i look at it.

  6. Please don’t take this a criticism, it’s more like whining. I applaud your intent 100%, and I hope you sell a million of them. And really it’s more like I can’t spend $114 on myself. I just bought my kids a Lego Mindstorms for X-mas. If they were older and wanted mp3 players I would consider buying them each one of these instead.

  7. TheThompsonFive – it’s all good, if you can promise to do an article / write up / how-to i can get you the kit for a little cheaper, just email me pt at makezine

  8. I’d buy one if there was a prebuilt board for people who don’t know how to solder. :P I’d just want to make my own interface, hack the firmware a bit, add various things, whatever. That could be accomplished without soldering,but I’d have to solder to make the board. :(

  9. I know these are difficult but wouldn’t it be nice if:-
    – It had a display
    – It had an IDE interface for disk storage
    – It supported Rockbox

  10. Jbond, you would have to add your own interface with a display. I’ve read the docs for this and I don’t think it’s possible to display track information though unless you hard code track names and make sure you keep it synched with what’s on the card.

  11. DGary – it’s all open source, go for it — even ipod linux didn’t do ogg at first, but the good news is, we can all work together and even do more revisions if needed.

    It would take a hardware revision to make this play OGG. It uses the popular VS1011 mp3 decoder chip. Basic operation is:

    Read byte from SD card (SPI)
    Send byte to VS1011(also SPI)

    The PIC doesn’t have a whole lot to do with decoding, besides configuring the VS1011. It would take a new decoder chip with OGG abilities, or a fast UC that could do it in software, to expand the codec abilities. I don’t think you could decompress OGG to WAV at 40mhz (didn’t it take a Pentium just to play mp3s in stereo?)

    Its really cool to see someone using the new 18fxxJ PICs. They are really nice (where nice=cheap). Watch out though, they have a limited number of programming cycles (100 to 1000, depending on model) and most have no EEPROM. They also use a whole new programming scheme with no more than 6 volts on VPP (perhaps even 3) – JDM2, ICD clones, etc. will NOT program this chip (an ICD adapter hack is possible). This might be a rude surprise to a beginner that wants to firmware hack. A warning might be good, cause the chip looks like an ordinary 40 pin PIC.

    This is a great simple project for beginners. I might even pick up the decoder chip and play with it myself. But, I agree with Jbond above. If someone paid me to build a mp-me player, not that anyone has, I would start somewhere around here:

    Pick one of the low power, high speed, perpheral rich processors from Freescale. I’d probably start looking at the same line used in the Zune (and probably the iPod?). I know there are some that have ethernet (probably wifi), loads of serial ports, etc. Hopefully there is already code out there that does MP3/OGG/WAV decoding on freescale devices (ipod linux?).

    WIFI is a must. What other reason for building your own player? Not crippled WIFI like the ZUNE, but true connections that let the user exchange files between devices, the internet, etc.

    A tiny Linux package would be a must. All these features would take some amazing Foo, more so than any sane person would want to do in an embedded device directly. With a boot loader and linux it becomes much more hackable (no ICE or ICD needed).

    My bid ;)
    Functional platform ready to be hacked:
    One month design.
    One month prototype and basic software (music plays, no Foo).

  12. I agree that the kit is pricy. But like PT said building the kit part of the fun.

    I don’t make things for the sole purpose of saving a buck. I do it because I really enjoy making something, using what I made and then finding other people who have used my plans from instructables.com and made their own version.

    rock on,
    -Joe

  13. A few questions:

    Besides the kit, what else would I need to construct this, tools, etc.? I’m new to this sort of thing and really don’t have anything at this point.

    How difficult would it be to use a usb flash drive instead of the mmc/sd? That would make it much easier to use on any computer, and it would always double as a flash drive.

  14. Hey T5: buy yourself an mp3 player for $50, the ability to hack it for $40 and make a $30 charitable donation to open hardware! Look at it that way, it doesn’t cost so much!

  15. I was looking for something a bit different, a networked mp3 player/streamer.

    I wanted to have music in every room. Years ago I tried FM transmitters and mechanical switches from an audio source. The problem was everyone had to listen to the same music. I found something close http://www.mp3elf.net but the kit was to expensive for me.

    I ended up buying a pair of 3-COM Audrey’s ($69.00 color touchscreen QNX platform). Then put on the music on my MythTV box and share it via samba and mt-daapd. It’s the best of both worlds, my mac’s get music via iTunes and the Audrey’s and XBMC get music via Samba.

  16. Sweavo, that doesn’t even make sense.

    Buy an iPod nano for $50, pay $40 more to be able to sync to iTunes, and make a $30 donation for apple’s future R&D. Put that way, iPods sure are cheap.

  17. Following on from my request. One way to solve it is
    >=3rd gen iPod, 2.5″ diskdrive, Rockbox.
    Two things are getting in the way.
    1) A 1.8″ to 2.5″ adapter with the correct genders to hook a 2.5″ disk to the iPod’s 1.8″ connector.
    2) A 5V supply for the 2.5″ disk when the iPod has 3.3V on the disk connector for 3.3V 1.8″ disks.

    Oh and building a case!

    The need for a 2.5″ disk is that 120Gb 2.5″ disks are cheap and 160Gb and 200Gb disks are just coming online. 1.8″ disks are horribly expensive and the biggest now is 80Gb which is not big enough for my needs.

    Any ideas? Are the power and connector problems solvable, reasonably easily?

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