Introduction: $5 Disposable Audio Annoyance

Picture of $5 Disposable Audio Annoyance

Ever seen one of those electronics kits for a noise generator, or electronic cricket? How about one for $5 that takes no soldering skills, only much larger? How about if it plays 16MB worth of MP3 instead of just chirping?

I suppose the only "instruction" here is an interesting pair of parts at a good price, since you couldn't get much simpler on assembly. But hey, if it's OK for the throwies, then why not this?

I'm hoping that someone more creative than I will find a good application for this. Noise grafiti? Halloween noises?

Step 1: Buy $5 MP3 Player

Picture of Buy $5 MP3 Player

I saw a link on the Make blog:
for a really cheap MP3 player. BG Micro is selling MP3 players for $5/ea, quantity 3 or more. I bought 3, I figured I might pull one apart and see what kind of parts they have. You can order this part at If you put in 3 or more, it should give you a $5/per total instead of the $5.95.

Incidentally, I didn't get the first order they shipped via US Priority Mail. I emailed their sales people, and they just reshipped without any hassle or suspicion, nice people.

Open your package, and extract the MP3 player holder in all its glory.

Step 2: Examine the Bits of the $5 MP3 Player

Picture of Examine the Bits of the $5 MP3 Player

Pull all of the bits of your MP3 player out of the holder.

Step 3: Wonder About the Headphones

Picture of Wonder About the Headphones

Yeah, I'm not sure exactly how I'm supposed to route the combination cord/lanyard thing round my head either. Fortunately, we don't need it for this project, unless you want to test the sound output. Extra parts!

Step 4: Separate Battery Holder From Drive, Put Sound on It

Picture of Separate Battery Holder From Drive, Put Sound on It

Pull the black and silver pieces apart. Realize that the black piece appears to just be a holder for the AAA battery, and the silver piece is a 16MB USB flash drive with buttons on it.

Insert the USB drive into the USB port of your computer. Copy one or more MP3 files onto it. For this project, I used "Wailing Paddle" by the Rudiments:

Step 5: Insert Battery

Picture of Insert Battery

Install the (included!) AAA battery into the holder.

Step 6: Attach the Free Speakers

Picture of Attach the Free Speakers

So I frequently shop at yet another electronics surplus site, On one of my orders, I noticed that they were offering free speakers, up to 50 sets. (Though, it adds onto your shipping I imagine.) You can find said speakers here:

I see that now the site seems to imply that you can get up to 100 pairs per order. Let's not get greedy, you know. So, order something else there, you know you want to, and add on a quantity of these speakers. When I first received my 5 sets that I had ordered, I was a little disappointed to see that they were unpowered, and therefore probably had few interesting parts to recover. (But hey, speakers, cables, casing, connectors, etc...) However, the unpowered aspect turns out to suit this particular project.

So I'm sitting there with my new $5 MP3 player, and vaguely recall having a box of unpowered speakers. Hah! Take that, storage space...

Finally, plug all your bits together. If you require additional detail for this step, then I feel embarrased for you.

Press play.

Appropriate duct taping, zip typing or twist tying is left as an exercise. The devices are all stereo I believe, so you could separate the speakers the length of the cord, to some effect. You might even be able to get two distinct sets of sounds out of the two speakers, I haven't experiemented with that yet.

Step 7: Enjoy

Next, I'm guessing that you put it some place where it will drive people batty. I haven't had a chance to try this yet, I just got the MP3 player tonight. Again, I'm hoping that people might find a creative use.

To pre-address some questions I'm sure people will have:

-Yes, it's pretty quiet. For people to notice it, it would have to go into a relatively quiet environment. I have not experimented with cranking the volume in the MP3 file itself. The volume control on the device was all the way up.

-I have not yet tried to figure out how long a battery lasts.

-I have not done any further disassembly on any of the parts shown, yet. I may get to that later. Though, the Make link in Step 1 shows some guts. If there is interest in that, please comment and encourage me to do so.


oobi (author)2007-01-08

over the xmas holiday i gave out books along with CDs of the author speaking about the book, on a blog, from a radio show, etc. i want to build a little mp3 playback unit with speaker and physically attach it to the back flap of the book...wahla! press play to hear the author of this fine book you are about to read... sortof an extended play talking card, if you will....

locofocos (author)oobi2010-04-11

Everybody,please excuse me for starting this. If you notice, I made the original comment 3 years ago. At my age, 3 years can make a lot of difference. So, please just ignore what I said.

Lee Wilkerson (author)2010-04-10

Who gives a rat's a**?

chaosrob (author)2008-08-08

I love Great deals on plenty of "stuff"!
Try or They are always updating and getting new listings.

Bongmaster (author)2008-06-05

i cant seem to find them on the site :8 have they stopped selling them?

ryanlrussell (author)Bongmaster2008-06-06

I haven't seen any quite that cheap lately, but you can find similar if you keep your eyes open.

Spinergy (author)2007-08-02

The battery would only last a few hours, but you could easily cross breed this with a solar charger circuit from a cheap solar powered LED landscape light. Simply wire the MP3 player in place of the LED and your "annoyance" would charge during the day then come on at night.

baggins (author)Spinergy2008-05-25

It wouldn't be that simple.

CaffeineHouse (author)2007-08-03

Why does it really matter? Christmas/Xmas was originally a pagan holiday, except it wasn't originally called Christmas as it was just a celebration of the winter solstice. so Christ was never originally in Christmas.

quad64bit (author)CaffeineHouse2007-11-07

You're right. Making his bDay (haha) in late December was to coincide with the winter solstice so that pagan religions (well, followers of said religions) could more easily be converted. If religion A wants to grab all of religion B's members, its much easier if you celebrate all the same holidays and just change the names :) The actual month of his birth is unknown. (As is the true number of years since then, though almost universally accepted to be 2007 :) Xmas is used simply because its much easier to type, spell, write, etc.. than christmas; the same as etc... is easier than et cetera :)

Radical Dreamer (author)2007-10-15

Wouldn't it be awesome to replace the memory with a 1 gig chip instead of 16 megs? That might not be too hard, just copy the firmware onto the new drive before you crack them both open. Otherwise, good instructable, I've been wanting to make something like this for my own devious purposes.

Leolo (author)2007-07-04

The X in Xmas represents the cross Jesus was supposedly nailed to. Xmas is as much religious connotation as Christmas. It has the advantage of being shorter to type, however.

Bobthewrecker (author)Leolo2007-07-29

It is actually called Xmas because the Greek letter x is pronounced "Christos," meaning Christ.

Paladyn (author)Bobthewrecker2007-08-01

Actually, It's because the greek letter 'chi', the first letter in 'Christos' when spelled in Greek letters, looks like an 'X'.

bostonstreet (author)2007-02-06

it would be real cool to get a female usb and wire that to a resitor then to a car battery and make an inverter for it ...plug in like 5 of those speakers and stick it up in the rafters of a bridge with an anouncement on loop. i was actually thinking about that for the past year.knowing boston id end up in jail for terrorism.

Black Sheep (author)2006-10-19

play the mosquetto noise drives people crazy

trebuchet03 (author)2006-07-14

fart machine ;)

ryanlrussell (author)trebuchet032006-07-14

Ah, see! Extremely obvious, and I didn't think of it. :) There must be an MP3 of farts already out there somewhere. Come to think of it, the bathroom stall is probably the perfect place to test one of these...

trebuchet03 (author)ryanlrussell2006-07-14

somewhere with a lot of echoing.... to make it harder to locate :P I wonder if those mp3 players can be upgraded... 16megs... not much at all :P I'll have to grab a few and see if I can throw in a different flash :D

zachninme (author)trebuchet032006-10-08

Ladyada posted some images of it opened up. She said that she would post how to change it, but I haven't seen it yet ;-\

zephyr5208 (author)trebuchet032006-07-20

i have a gig flashdrive/mp3 player that Creative makes, and i believe that they also make down to a 128Mb that also plays FM radio and such.. they are pretty nifty gadgets, and you can also use the flash player for other things like installing Starcraft or Starcraft spawns on school computers ;)

ryanlrussell (author)zephyr52082006-07-20

Yes, I didn't go much into the simple-storage aspect of the thing. It is (also) a 16MB flash drive. Not too much these days, but more than enough to hold a trojan if you're doing a pen-test or similar. Again, the $5 price makes it pretty easy to consider it disposable, so you don't worry if it takes a walk.

jazztunes (author)2006-10-03

I've searched high and low for a windows 98 driver for this little mp3 player - and I finally found one that works!

I just thought this might save someone else some time in the future.


possum (author)2006-08-22

I want to do a audio project for which I need 25 channels of mono audio. Seems like this player might make it possible, but can the audio be set to loop?

ryanlrussell (author)possum2006-09-09

Yes, the player normally just loops the songs. In my test, I loaded up just one song, and it played it over and over.

rakimfan (author)2006-08-29

yeah i was thinking the same thing, use each mp3 player as a single audio track. Now im thinking maybe hookit up to a motion detector and use it to trigger the mp3.

TheCheese9921 (author)2006-07-14

Or you could put "Brown Noise" on it which is supposed to cause loss of bowel controll. (Meens poo poo in pants lol) But they tested it on mythbusters and it didn't work but you might already have to deficate (poop) but i don't know next time ii gota go REAL REAL BAD I'l play it on my computer and turn the subwoofer up all the way i'll post if it works. Here is the url

Ian01 (author)TheCheese99212006-07-14

The Mythbusters tested it, I think it didn't work.

Murf (author)Ian012006-08-25

Ian01... you are correct. The Mythbusters did put their dignity on the line (an diapers over their pants) and tested this myth with very HIGH quality audio equipment/a highly experienced audio engineer and came back with white diapers.. wll I can't gaurentee they were white but they weren't brown...

Electronic laxative, huh? :) I don't think this will produce enough volume as-is to get you going.

trebuchet03 (author)ryanlrussell2006-07-14

there's no documented evidence that shows the said side effects :P And low quality speakers are not capable of making sub 20Hz frequencies of any quality... This myth got really popular when South Park made reference to it (damn, that was over 6 years ago :P)....

jeasterl (author)2006-07-15

1. add a few "D" cells in parallel 2. disasemble speakers and duct tape the bare speakers to the mp3 player 3. record 16 megs of unintelligible wispers inserting the victims name and bazaar commands at random 4. turn to just above audible levels 5. toss a couple feet into an airduct 6. in a couple weeks watch the men in the nice white coats carry the victim off to the rubber room

Robotrix (author)jeasterl2006-07-15

You must have meant bizarre commands. Bazaar commands would include things like: "Buy this antique samovar for $58!", or, sell me that persian rug for "$10!"

jeasterl (author)Robotrix2006-07-16

that would work to, maybe the victim will run off to Istanbul. (problem with spell checkers, they don't catch when you spell the wrong word correctly)

iman (author)2006-07-15

LOL youre mean jeasterl :)

radiorental (author)2006-07-14

customised doorbell. Connect a switch to the play button and route it outside play mat for babies. get a ddr mat and six/eight of these mp3 player, connect the individual mat pads switches to the play buttons of each mp3 player record 20 minutes of a russian (or other forgien language) on there. Next time you get a telemarker just playback incomprehensible gibberish to them upgrade the memory to 512 or more for a semi useful mp3 player although I'll bet the audio quality on these is poopyKhz audible egg timer, record your voice calling out the time every 30 seconds and press play to make a timer you dont need to look at, might be useful for partially sighted people loads more ideas.. but got to get back to work - good luck (nice idea generating instructable - thanks)

ryanlrussell (author)radiorental2006-07-14

All good ideas. Most of them would require amplification, but that's just a slightly different project. I think you could power a bunch of these with a USB hub. Your ideas give me an idea... I've heard about these keyboards that play tape loops. You could rig these MP3 players as a substitute for the tape loops. I'm not sure how much the controls would need to be hacked. The MP3 player has three buttons, each of which are overloaded to have multiple functions. The Play button is play/pause. You also hold that one down to power up and power off. The Fwd/Rwd buttons are next track/last track. You hold them down for volume up/down. It seems to power up in maximum volume mode. So, I think one could have the devices on, and rig switches to activate play/pause. The external switch would have to send a single pulse for switch down, and then another for switch up. A simple switch is going to activate the power up/down behavior if held down.

radiorental (author)ryanlrussell2006-07-14

re amplification: I think you'll find most portable computer speaker similar to the ones in your photos have basic amps inside But, the dual function buttons really hoses a lot of my ideas - that sucks Thought about the keyboard idea. One of my long term never built project is to wire a load of these to a wind-up music box. The type with pins in a drum that pluck a range of bars. Well instead of bar they are contacts to a bank of mp3 players. People record random crap to each player and then play the drum to hear the oringinal music 'repurposed' I'll probably never get around to finishing that

radiorental (author)radiorental2006-07-14

sorry, not a telemarker which is a skier who likes to wiggle his/her ass. I meant telemarketer (o;

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