We thought of using a portable MP3 player, but were concerned about its security. By installing an internal hard-drive of stored music, we no longer have to bring CDs containing background music.
Make sure that your CD deck supports a USB connected drive. We chose an American Audio CD-100 as it has both front and rear USB ports.
Step 1: Tools Needed
Dremel rotary tool
Step 2: Choosing Your Drive and Enclosure
For our unit, I scavenged an IDE drive out of a dead laptop. Newer laptops will have SATA drives instead. Make sure you get the correct enclosure; I purchased one for $8 at Microcenter.com. The enclosure contains a circuit board that plugs into your drive and provides a Mini-B USB port.
I've inserted the drive into the enclosure in the photo above.
Step 3: Preparing Your Drive
To check your drive, right-click it in Windows Explorer and choose Properties, if it says File System: NTFS, the deck won't be able to read it (I tried). You will need to format the drive.
Once again right-click on the drive and choose Format. If you're using a hard-drive and not a memory stick, you'll probably run into the 32G limit with most recent Widows operating systems. Since my drive is 125G and I'm using Windows 7 which has this limit, I had to download a program to perform the format.
I downloaded Fat32format.exe which did a fast format and worked flawlessly. Once you've downloaded the compressed file, double-click on it to open it. Copy the fat32format.exe file into your Windows folder.
Attach your drive and make sure you know what the drive letter is. Open a Command Window by pressing Start and typing CMD in the Search prompt directly above the Start button. When you press Enter, you'll be in DOS and can type in:
fat32format [your driveletter], eg. fat32format E:
Step 4: Testing and Loading the Drive
Since our deck did not have the Random Play feature and could only read 999 files in a single folder, we decided to make several folders containing or custom ~playlist selections.
Pressing the Folder button lets you select which one to start in. Files will continue to be played in successive folders in alphabetical order.
Step 5: Installing the Drive
In an initial attempt to not void the warranty on the CD deck, I decided not to drill holes to mount the drive. Placing the drive on edge against the side wall, I used an office binder clip to hold it in place. (see photo). Replacing the top, holds the clip in place.
Step 6: Routing the USB Cable Out of the Deck
I finally gave up and notched the rear of the case to route the USB cable out without cutting and splicing it. Adding a split grommet will protect the cable from being cut by the metal case.
Step 7: Song Selection
Step 8: CD Deck Installed in the Rack
Hope your installation goes well!