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We are going to modify an old boom box (AM/FM/CD/Tape) to add an aux in cable so we can connect an iPod or phone to it. I'm using a Koss HG835 boom box that I found at a thrift store for $15. When we're done, it will be able to play from the aux in cable, CD, and radio.

Some parts of these instructions are specifically for the Koss HG385, but the procedure will work on pretty much any boom box that has a cassette deck as long as you can find the pre-amp chip.

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Step 1: Take It apart

There are 6 screws on the back that attach the front panel to the back of the boom box. I needed a long 8" screwdriver to get to them since the screws were recessed so deep in the hole. Make sure the stereo is unplugged before you start working on it. When you pull it apart, you can disconnect some of the ribbon cables plugged in to various places so that you have more room to work.

normalicy3 months ago

I've considered doing this for years, but never got around to it. One thing I was considering was to instead use the signal wires at the tape mechanism's location instead of locating the chip. Obviously, it would take some testing to see which two wires in the ribbon are the correct ones. Am I thinking right?

digerati1338 (author)  normalicy3 months ago

I have read about other hacks that use the wires going to the tape head in the cassette deck and just splice a 3.5mm cable to that. Based on what I've read, it will probably work but you might have inferior sound quality because the signal from the tape head is typically weaker than the signal coming from your 3.5mm cable. When the signal from your spliced cable goes through the pre-amp, it will be more distorted. Because I chose to the wire to the pre-amp output, the signal does not go through the pre-amp and is therefore (hopefully) less distorted (not distorted at all?).

That's kind of what I had feared. I may do some more research.

desidude523 months ago

In the past I've just shoved cassette adapters into the cassette bay. The wire does pinch a little bit but a very quick and easy work around to be able to plug in other devices.

digerati1338 (author)  desidude523 months ago

Yeah, cassette adapters are great for that. I'm currently still using one in my car. This mod is cheaper, and produces at least marginally better sound quality.

Couldn't you jumper the contact closure for the play button to always play???
digerati1338 (author)  alchemyandthunder3 months ago

Sure. It didn't seem necessary to me.

bovine3 months ago

I think I would try to retrofit the cassette space to hold an i-pod, since it's now dead space and about the same size.

digerati1338 (author)  bovine3 months ago

Cool idea. Maybe that will be my next project.

sfinley3043 months ago
Great instructable. How is the sound quality?
digerati1338 (author)  sfinley3043 months ago

To me, it sounds the same as if I played a CD from the same stereo. Based on some research I did before making this, I think the biggest factor in degrading sound quality in this type of mod is the cassette tape pre-amp. Because we attach the line-in after the pre-amp, the pre-amp does not distort the sound.