Build a Bluetooth Intercom for Bike Rides, Motorcycle Rides, Espionage, General Mayhem, Etc...

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Introduction: Build a Bluetooth Intercom for Bike Rides, Motorcycle Rides, Espionage, General Mayhem, Etc...

In this instructable I'll show you how to build a wireless intercom for short-range two-way communication. You can use this to chat with another person on a bike ride, or on motorcycle rides with helmet-mounted bluetooth headsets (that's my next instructable.), all while sharing your music or podcast (from iPod, cd player, etc.) This one is almost too simple for me to take credit for, since I'm really just repurposing a bunch of things and just making a very simple adapter to make them work together. That's good news for you though, because that means it's very simple, and though it's unlikely that you'll have everything just laying around, at least some of you will have a couple of bluetooth headsets handy.

Step 1: Buy Some Stuff.

So you'll need a few things for this, first you'll need to search eBay for "Motorcycle Intercom". Amongst all of the really good (and expensive) intercom systems, you'll find the very inexpensive (usually around $25.00 shipped) wired intercom systems that use standard 2.5mm cellphone headsets. These can probably be used for other things, so don't throw them away, but put them aside. We wont be needing them.

Next we need the Jabra A210s (or any bluetooth to 2.5mm wired adapter). I found these cheap ($20 each) at cell Xpo, link, so I used them over the Cardos, which were about $50.00 each. These will plug into the motorcycle intercom module where the wired headsets would have plugged in. See what we're doing here?

In my intro page, I mentioned that very basic soldering is required, but if you get one of the el cheapo intercom systems and find that the connectors are 2.5mm, you actually wont need to do any soldering at all. Mine is actually different from the ones most commonly found on eBay, and had 3.5mm jacks, so I needed to adapt the 2.5mm jacks to the 3.5mm ones on the intercom.

Lastly, you'll need to buy a couple of standard Bluetooth headsets. If you're in the states you're in luck. Recent legislation in my home state of California has required that anyone using the phone while driving do so with a handsfree kit, which means a bunch of online retailers are making great deals on Bluetooth headsets. I got a two pack on buy.com for $20.00.

Step 2: Pair the Headsets

Now you'll pair the headsets to the Jabra A210s. Try and remember which adapter is paired to which headset. Plug the adapters into the intercom and power the intercom up. Remember that the distance limitation is not between the two headsets, but rather between each headset and the adapter to which it is paired. This should give you a maximum range of about 60 feet, which is more than enough for a bicycle-to-bicycle or passenger to rider.

I also velcroed the entire shebang together for portability (with all the coily wires it looks mighty suspicious - don't try getting this one past airport security.) and put it into a zip-up camera case, then in my bicycle saddle bag or the compartment on my motorcycle to keep it protected.

That's it, please let me know how this instructable works for you, as always vote me up if you liked it, and enjoy!


Stuffman

Step 3: What to Expect / Dealing With Road Noise

Obviously, the headsets we'll be using aren't meant to deal with the kind of noise you'd find on a bicycle or motorcycle. We'll need to modify the headsets to shield the microphone from these noises, and as with all acoustics, that's not exactly easy. I'll be updating this instructable as I go along, but for a minimum amount of reduction of wind noise, I spread some hot glue around the area of the microphone. This helps cut down on some wind noise (I'd say by 30% or so), since now the wind isn't whistling through the microphone hole. It's a start, and I'll be doing my own experimentation but if anyone has any ideas they will be greatly appreciated.

This intercom setup will vary greatly depending on the hardware you choose, for example my initial results with a plantronics and LG headset were less than desirable, where the cheapo $20/2pack headsets are quite good. If you look closely in the picture, I've labeled each headset and each adapter with an "R" (rider) and a "P" (passenger). This is helpful for troubleshooting purposes.

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    27 Comments

    Wow, intercom systems have sure come a long way during the last decade.

    Do you know about LEXIN Bluetooth intercom? lexinonline.com

    My wife has a low volume voice due to ALS desease, when in public I can not understand her, also when going on motor home trips it's just to noisey to communicate. So we need a device that would be stand-alone amplification from her voice to my ears, and vise versa. How would I do that?

    Can anyone recommend an alternative to the Jabra A210? Preferably something functionally equivalent for this project under $20?

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    This sounds like a great idea for cycling with friends, but I'm concerned about the range. Mr Lordgarion514 quotes an area of 250,000 sqft, which works out (area= pi*r^2) to a radius of 282 feet, which is pretty good. But just this week I bought a little Bluetooth enabled speaker from Radio Shack. I had to return it because I couldn't get good reception between my study (where my Mac is) and my bedroom, no more than 20 feet away. Are there different classes of Bluetooth devices -- for example, high power vs low power? Or can someone who has built one of these setups say what kind of range he or she gets?

    1 reply

    OK, in answer to my own question, there are 3 classes of Bluetooth devices:
    Class 1 - 100 mW - ~100 m range
    Class 2 - 2.5 mW - ~ 10 m range
    Class 3 - 1.0 mW - ~ 1 m range
    So hopefully we're talking about a Class 1 device here.

    How about linking the two A210s directly to one another? (maybe using smthng like this: http://www.google.gr/imgres?start=293&hl=en&sa=X&tbo=d&biw=1552&bih=917&tbm=isch&tbnid=2Gn7ASBWeJt6pM:&imgrefurl=http://hydrophones.blogspot.com/2009_01_01_archive.html&docid=j739ws3bnP4iWM&imgurl=http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-DsLASneX1N0/T-thPPlr2hI/AAAAAAAAHOE/8gaepEHar54/s1600/6a084771a87bcb653358e337b7e5d50b.jpg&w=856&h=428&ei=r7_lUJgsopvRBYyNgegC&zoom=1&iact=hc&vpx=317&vpy=647&dur=4269&hovh=159&hovw=318&tx=231&ty=97&sig=117478213163572293690&page=7&tbnh=146&tbnw=263&ndsp=55&ved=1t:429,r:32,s:300,i:100 )

    Just found this while bouncing around the site.
    It's amazing what a little bit of time does to things.
    Dragon now has a Bluetooth headset called callpod V2. You can find them under 20 bucks with free shipping(got mine from wally world for 9.97 with free shipping to the store). They let you connect 2 of them together just like you would connect 1 to a cell phone. Advert says when 2 are paired together they work over a 250,000 square foot are(I assume this would be a circular pattern). Not sure how far apart that works out to but should be plenty to use for this.

    I just use a helmet with speakers in it but maybe I can do this project and put the bluetooth headset's circutry into the helmet! I will be right back........

    1 reply

    Still waiting... LOL

    How to pair the Jabra a210
    http://www.ehow.com/way_5263653_jabra-instructions.html

    It's simple

    There is a pinhole on the bottom of the Jabra, which puts the device in pairing mode. It's pretty easy if you've ever paired a BT device before.

    I'm there with CorillianAle, It's not very clear to me how you sync the Jabras to the headsets. Usually when I pair a new BT headset to my phone, I have to go to my phone's bluetooth preference panel and choose the headset. Sometimes, you need to enter a PIN (0000 or 1111 are the most common).

    Could you elaborate on that, please? thanks a lot! :)

    1 reply

    There's no PIN to enter. The bluetooth signal goes from the headset to the Jabra adapter. You just press a pairing button..
    http://www.ehow.com/way_5263653_jabra-instructions.html
    The adapters are cool because you can plug them into your home cordless phone, mp3, cd, tape player, etc... and go wireless.. up to 20-30 feet that is.

    I would have to say to crack open the head set and put on a throat mic on and a nice ear bud

    Nice blog!!!!!!!!!!Really a great knowledge about different thing about interim.I refer my friend to this site for more information.They also impressed by this site.Sena SMH10

    it is reli a great idea to build a unique one myself, but it is a bit troublesome for a girl..I recommend a highest performance to price ratio Bluetooth Helmet Headset - BlueWhale G8. Explore more features on www.BlueWhaleIntercom.com.

    Shawn, Great idea! I have one of the intercom/amplifier units with 3.5 mm jacks. There are 3.5mm Audio Bluetooth Adapters for MP3's available on eBay. Pardon my ignorance, but would 3.5mm Audio Bluetooth Adapters for MP3's work with this, or would I need a Bluetooth Adapters specifically made for use with phones? thanks!