Introduction: Altoids Amp

Picture of Altoids Amp

You may have seen the DIY altoids amp somewhere else, but this one is easier than the other plans I have seen. This project can be completed in one sitting, depending on how long that
sitting is and how precise you make everything. It will cost you about 10-15 dollars depending on what you have lying around the house. Sorry the pictures aren't up, I am having a problem uploading them.

Step 1: Time to Void a Warranty!

Picture of Time to Void a Warranty!


-small Phillips head screw driver
-electrical tape or duct tape
-hot glue gun (optional)
-wire strippers (won't be mentioned, but they will come in handy)
-drill or dremmel tool (to cut through altoids can)


-cheapest cassette walkman you can find (get one without AM/FM, that requires more space, and it won't fit in the altoids can. It should cost around 5$, mine is a Durabrand model 820M...real high quality stuff here folks)
-altoids can (empty, eat up)
-toggle switch
-audio in jack (like what you plug your guitar into)
-x2 AA battery holder (side-by-side, not end to end )(x2 means holds two batteries, not two holders)
-extra wire (not neccessary, but will probably come in handy)

NOTE: If you don't use the same exact stuff I do, yours may not fit into the altoids can, if it won't fit, find another case, I recommend the cassette player case.

Take the tape player apart, do it carefully, you may need to know how it goes back together later. Get the chip with electronics out IN ONE PIECE. The motor and switches may be
attached, these will need to be removed in a later step, but first, you need find out how pressing the play button connects power to the amplifier. Follow the power wires from the
battery compartment, one of them should be interrupted, when you press the play button, it will become uninterrupted, this is where you will hook up the toggle switch, in the place of
the play button. Also, in my tape player, there was a switch labeled "bass boost", I had to cut a little of the case plastic to get the switch out in one piece, but I guess if you wanted, you could just remove it.

Step 2: No Turning Back

Now you need to find the magnetic tape reader and cut it off, leaving as much wire as possible attached to the amp chip. For thos of you who don't know, the magnetic tape reader is a little metal box, a little bigger than a pea, it will be where the magnetic tape on a cassette would be if you were using this tape player normally.

Step 3: Moment of Truth #1

Now, to the wires you removed the tape reader from, connect the audio in jack, the wiring worked the first time I tried it, I don't know if it is reversible or not.Hook up batteries to the power wires, plug in a guitar or whatever, turn the toggle to "on", plug headphones into the headphone jack (located somewhere on the amp chip), and make some audio input, i.e. kick the guitar strings with your feet because your hands are probably a little full.

Step 4: Moment of Truth #2

If it worked, hurray, if not, check your wiring, maybe switch the wiring of the input jack. So if it is working, you have another job to do, turn everything off, find the motor assembly, cut the wires (in the middle, incase you need to splice them back together) going from the chip to the motor, turn everything back on and if you still get sound, pat yourself on the back. Now get back to work. If it didn't work, then your amplifier is probably dependant on the motor wires, this means that you will have to either-

a.Figure out a way to bypass it on your own, cause I sure don't know


b.Just leave them on and mount the thing in somthing bigger than an altoids can

either way, if it doesn't work without the motor, the rest of this instructable can't do much for you. Sorry. You're on your own. Good luck in your venture into the unknown. You
will be in my prayers. You are a brave explorer in uncharted territory.

Step 5: I Just Cant Duit, I Got Ta Have Moor Power!

Picture of I Just Cant Duit, I Got Ta Have Moor Power!

If you are still here, then you have a working amp, with no motor attached (that's a good thing), and no case. If somthing I just mentioned is wrong, go back, reread, and find out
where you belong you lost puppy. Now try to fit the battery box in the altoids can (don't have the batteries in the can, it could short out on the metal of the altoids can), it should be just a little too big, file it down on the ends and corners so that it will fit in snuggly, and so that it will be as far over to the side as possible (saving as much space as possible is extremely important). Once it is satisfactory size, remove it.

Step 6: Found This Part Out the Hard Way

Picture of Found This Part Out the Hard Way

Now take the altoids can (make sure it is empty, mint dust, electronics, bowling trading cards........altoids) and observe that it is metal, now, if you are on this site you are probably quite aware of the unexplicable phenonmena of metal conducting electricity, this is not such a great thing to be putting naked electronics and batteries in soooooooo, we insulate it. Coat the inside of the bottom of the can (you can do the top if you are feeling ambitious) with electrical tape or duct tape.

Step 7: It Begins to Take Shape

Picture of It Begins to Take Shape

Time to move in.
Wedge the battery box in the can, and make sure it is all the way over. Put the chip over to the other side, make sure the headphone jack is up against the wall of the can. In the space between them, drill a hole to house the input jack, on the top of the can, make a hole to house the toggle switch, on the side wall of the can, make a hole that meets up with the headphone jack.

Step 8: Wiring Wiring Wiring

Picture of Wiring Wiring Wiring

Wire everything together, chip to input jack, battery box to chip and toggle switch (+ goes to toggle, then to chip, - goes to chip directly, at least that's how I did it.)Now mount the input jack and toggle switch on the can (line up the headphone jack with it's hole too).

Step 9: Almost There

Picture of Almost There

Finishing touches
If you're like me, you like to use alot of extra wire, so you will want to keep that in the can, I hot glued mine to the inside of the top. Also, if you have an extra switch, like my bass boost, you will want to mount that in a pile of glue to keep it from making contact with the metal of the case (this will cause a disturbance in the force (audio)). You may need to cut away some metal to make the case open and close smoothly. Also, there will be a volume adjuster on the chip, I didn't bother to make this adjustable from the outside of the can, but you can if you want to, you should tweek it until you get the sound you want by adjusting the volume and tone on your guitar and the volume on the chip, some combinations
give you a distortion-like effect that you may like.

Step 10: Break Out the Bubbley

Rejoice, you just saved some money.

Step 11: Farwell Friends

Post some funky fresh ideas for mods to this instructable, comments, suggestions, or your own minty music instructables. Hope this works out for you, hope you could understand my
sketchy instructions even with the lack of pictures, and I hope you enjoyed yourself.


howardjackson (author)2015-04-02


davidramirez5 (author)2015-04-01

Really mind blowing

earlcollins (author)2015-03-28

I really like it.. Well done

sigilvii (author)2013-07-14

I used your plans to build a preamp. Thanks dude!

It is also very similar to this design but I found yours first and saw this after making it:

A brief demonstration:

apollo the great (author)2013-06-02

can you please put pictures , your not helping any body

J.Reynolds09 (author)2012-06-29

I think that you could just leave the playback head in tack and add some wire to the existing connection. Then it could still play tapes and if it had a recording feature then you could possible record what you play as well. Just find a spot not in the way to mount your 1/4" input jack and leave it all mounted in the walkman case. Just a thought, feel free to correct me if I'm wrong though.

skuishingbugs (author)2011-12-12

so, when you call this an amp, is it an actual amplifying coil? or does this just connect the output from a (guitar, aux input, etc...) to a set of speakers or headphones?

Charger_06 (author)2008-03-24

you can just connect the motor wires together to by pass it. Thats just like a closed circuit.

evilmadcow (author)Charger_062011-07-26

I agree.

collince (author)2011-06-05

I am not the best with tech stuff... So do you have any pictures? If not that's fine there are plenty of YouTube videos! Really cool project anyway! Thanks!

tubbychick3n (author)2009-05-07

Can someone help me out? I am trying to do this with a radio (from the dollar store) and i have no idea where to put the 1/4 jack.

joearkay (author)tubbychick3n2011-02-21

try this

bust open the cassette deck (if there is one) if you're doin what i think you are doin and this radio is only a radio, then i'm not completely sure but i think you can bust it open and solder in the jack after removing the leads to the radio tuner. on the radios i've gutted it was a cylindrical coil of copper wire. I think your gonna have to improvise a bit

knex_mepalm (author)2010-10-05

This is awesome! and Hi from

wooowmeato (author)2010-08-04

try using the macro setting on your camera next time it will help drastically, thanks for the guide! cheers! :)

chessdude3 (author)2010-07-19

can I use a portable CD player?

Sick_Nixon (author)2010-05-23

it would be better to plug a speaker right to the output, at least if you are going to use it for  guitar. you coud put this in a bigger case and solder a 1/8 male jack to the speaker (and plug it in the output jack)to make it simpler. you should also shield it with foil if you choose to do so. what would be nice is to add distortion of some kind. if anybody knows something...

guitarfan (author)2010-04-07

 could i use a old computer speakers?

mdog93 (author)2009-03-07

How could you adapt this to amplify a guitar?

11richie21 (author)mdog932009-06-25

i think you use a jack converter?...

mdog93 (author)11richie212009-06-25

k, i dont rely know what that is- is it just a component? mdog

11richie21 (author)mdog932009-06-25

well if your jack is like a headphone jack you can buy a converter from the ipod section at the store like wal-mart. looks kind of like that drawing
<===(_() <-- bigger jack for mikes and other stuff!

beehard44 (author)11richie212010-04-02

lol u just made ur first 3D ASCII drawing!!!
a cylinder!

mdog93 (author)11richie212009-06-29

oh yh, sorry i know bout that but i think thers sumthin bout the elelctronics which means it wouldn't work with a guitar. ther has been discussions bout using it with a guitar in the past and they have come out as it wudnt work. but i'd like to know how you could make it work. mdog

zvillesurfer (author)mdog932009-07-10

i built this for a guitar. it doesnt work very well and i think its because of the fact that when you amplify, say, an ipod, you are amplifying an already strong signal, so you dont have to amplify it very much. On a guitar, you have to crank it up so loud that it gets very distorted and there is a lot of feedback. afterwards i tried it with an ipod and it was very static, although i think i fried something while using it because i dont think it always sounded this bad.

z-man6233 (author)zvillesurfer2009-12-05

ahh but active pickups like EMGs have an internal preamp so the signal is still strong

mdog93 (author)zvillesurfer2009-07-11

yeah, i still think there must be a solution to it, i just don't know enough about it to work out the electronics side of things. mdog

11richie21 (author)mdog932009-07-02

not really sure

mdog93 (author)11richie212009-07-03

kk thanjs anyway

1578bb (author)2010-03-23

Hey i made one and it works great. Found the amp chip on a broken tape player outside and everything worked as said. THanks =)

adamgillies (author)2010-02-15

 Is this a headphone amp? Or does it actually amplify out loud?

kevinsa5 (author)adamgillies2010-02-18

 In one of the steps it says there's a headphone jack, but you could send it through one of those mini speakers to make it audible without any headphones. I suppose you could conceivably turn the volume up all the way and route it through speakers inside the tin instead of a headphone jack, but I'm not sure if the voltage would be high enough for that. 

grubblybubbly (author)2010-01-04

i want to make one of these and an "altoids electric guitar"!!! that would be cool.

Jodex (author)2010-01-04

Yes, hot glue is very much super useful.

kdennis (author)2008-01-20

hey there.. i followed your instructions.. connected it to a jack to my ipod. problem is.. there is a loud buzzing sound. i was looking for short circuits but i dont have any my amp works fine without the motor..just that the sound is distorted.. I am working on it open without a case yet. hope somebody can help me. thanks :)

PyroMonger (author)kdennis2008-01-22

ive been having a similar problem. when my amp is turned on but no music or sounds are played throug it, it gives off a fuzzy feedback sound and i can hear voices ( i'm not crazy). I think its picking up a radio frequency. Is their any way to correct this?...Shielding certain wires possibly? Please help us (kdennis & myself). Thanks

IdrisB (author)PyroMonger2008-01-25

Try disabling the radio (if there was 1 already) by just desoldering it, or cutting it off. (dont know if it would mess the amp up)

batman96 (author)IdrisB2009-10-09

mine is a stock amp from the store with no changes

PyroMonger (author)IdrisB2008-01-26

theres no radio with mine either..mine came from computer speakers

Rishnai (author)PyroMonger2008-04-20

You're using unsheilded wire, and you're picking up AM radio in the wires and then your amp is making it audible. I used to be able to pick up the local sports radio station on my guitar cable when I was at my friend's house, until I got a new, sheilded cable. Connect with sheilded cable, and your voices will go away.

batman96 (author)Rishnai2008-12-29

my guitar amp like i said earlier pickups radio when i don't and i can tell it is our local fm radio station because when i tune a regular radio to our local station i can hear the same voices and sounds!

avwos (author)batman962009-09-16

That must be really creepy, if you don't know where it's comng from :L

Rishnai (author)batman962008-12-31

Oooohhhh... I've never picked up FM before. This bears testing. Fun fun!

kdennis (author)IdrisB2008-01-26

there isnt a radio

batman96 (author)PyroMonger2008-12-29

my regular guitar amp pickups radio when i am not playing :)

BeanBot (author)kdennis2008-01-27

did u wire the ground lines properly? and try putting some copper tape around the tin it will act as a shilled from any other "noise" producing electronics

1oooop (author)BeanBot2008-12-22

well.... I had a similar problem with a DIY amp from scratch... the problem may be that it is experiencing feedback from the capacitive resistance device that is put on some amps so that they don't kill a chip... it is on most computer sound cards and is quite annoying... the way to fix this is to put a resistor between the source and the amp

gibsonlp96 (author)2009-08-08

It is for guitar. You can plug in speakers to the headphone jack, or use headphones so you and only you can hear yourself play. It's one of those things you can use when you don't have an actual amplifier.

avwos (author)gibsonlp962009-09-16

It would be cool, to mount it in the body of the guitar :D

kike13 (author)2009-08-13

hey do u thnk u could at least make a video of how to make 1 it'll help

About This Instructable




Bio: I do stuff, except when I don't
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