For my good friend Elico's 40th birthday, I decided to build a memory chest containing recordings of many of his (absurdly large number of) friends, family and co-workers, who agreed to cooperate and to share memories from early childhood until recent times. I was quite happy with the result, and so was he!
Later, friends asked me to build another one for a friend who was leaving the country. This i'ble is the recording of the preparation of the second memory chest (with the exception of a few photos I've added in step 2 - "Installing Peripherals", which actually show the first chest).

User interface is fairly simple: As soon as the box is opened, the Arduino is powered on and shortly after, the LED blinks once signaling it is ready for use; pressing the button plays a randomly selected memory, which is then remembered in the Arduino's EEPROM memory.  Pressing the button just as you open the box before initialization blink, clears this memory (feature I've used while testing and just prior to handing over the chest).

 Here is the result:
(tested with some sample soundtracks I've uploaded from my awesome Pimsleur Japanese learning audiobook)

The project is built on top of an Arduino and a SOMO14D package for playing audio. Communication between the two was done based on the great SOMODuino code by Doyle Maleche, which I've slightly made more generic.

Audio requirements:

The micro SD card used by the SOMO14D should contain audio files in AD4 format - conversion software available at manufacturer site, link on the bottom-left. Files should reside on the sd-cards's root directory, and should be named 0000.ad4,0001.ad4... etc., possibly up to 512.

Since the SOMO14D chip cannot detect the number of files stored on the SD card, the track count should be "typed" in using the DIP switch package - time to practice your binary-to-decimal conversion skills! An alternative for that approach is to hard-code the number of tracks in software and use the extra pins for adding colorful light patterns with RGB LEDs (which is what I did in the first box).

  • 1 Wood box:
    • 12cm x 18cm x 8cm
    • Got mine at a hobby supply shop
    • Should have a lid connected with hinges
    • Preferably, has room for a photo on top - this is a memory chest, after all
  • 4 AA battery compartment
  • 4 AA batteries
  • Piezo element
  • Speaker, 1/4-1/2 Watt
  • Male DC voltage connector, barrel-type
  • RBBB Arduino clone
    • Available here: http://shop.moderndevice.com/products/rbbb-kit
  • SOMO14D Audio playback module
    • Available here: http://www.sparkfun.com/products/9534
  • Perf/stripboard, the size of your box
    • I usually get a large piece and saw as much as I need for each project
  • Button, any size you like.
    • I really like arcade style buttons! They are just too funky to be left in the shop
    • Available on dealextreme, ebay, etc., for example: http://www.dealextreme.com/p/repair-parts-replacement-obsf-button-for-arcade-machine-color-assorted-37486
  • 2GB MicroSD card
    • Manufacturer advice is to stick with Kingston, other brands might have compatibility issues
    • I can attest to that - despite my initial disbelief
    • Dealextreme has them for ~5US: http://www.dealextreme.com/p/kingston-microsd-transflash-2gb-memory-card-japan-2396
  • Status LED
    • Or more, if you plan on not using the DIP switches
  • Levered microswitch
    • For automatically powering up the box when it is opened
    • For example: http://parts.digikey.com/1/parts/977112-lever-switch-pcb-spdt-3a-80gf-d2f-l.html
  • DIP switch array containing 8 on-off switches
    • For example: http://www.taydaelectronics.com/servlet/the-1527/Dip-Switch-8-Positions/Detail
  • 3.3V voltage adapter
    • Used for powering up the SOMO14D
    • I used http://www.sparkfun.com/products/526 (after trying diodes, without success)
  • 4 x 100Ohm Resistors
  • 3 x 10K resistors
  • Some electric wires
  • Scrap wood
    • In case you need to build the box's top panel
  • 2 Nails & little turpentine-based glue
    • For attaching the microswitch to the side of the box

  • Small Pliers
  • Electric wire cutter
  • Insulation remover
  • Solder Iron
  • Hot glue gun
  • Precision wood saw, any kind (in case needed for the box's top panel)
  • Electric drill, drill bits
  • Wood glue

Step 1: Circuitary

Build the circuit according to the diagram

General instructions / recommendations:
  • Go one step at a time - first construct the RBBB and test it, then connect it to the switches,  DIP, LED, piezo etc. and write a short sketch to test them.
  • I usually use strip board, since it can save on the amount of wires. However, most people seem to prefer simple perf-boards.
  • When done, upload some sample tracks (see inside attached zip) to the SD-card - make sure its FAT16 formatted first
  • Upload the sketch onto the Arduino
  • Try to test after each step

When all seems to be working, continue to next stage - installing the peripherals into the box

What a cool idea !!! Why didn't I thought about it before ... <br>small box yet full of memories for life <br>Thank you.
:))) Hi Elico! hope you enjoyed it as much as I did making it
Awesome!<br>Simple, but elegant :)<br>Thanks for sharing!!

About This Instructable




Bio: Industrial design freshman. aspiring Inventor. hacking life, one bit at a time.
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