Picture of How to Add Custom Ringtones to a Wireless Doorbell

Most doorbells just make a simple generic tone. But I thought that it would be fun to modify a door bell so that it has a customizable ringtone. That way you can set it to play music or custom greetings. You could make it to scream on Halloween and play carols at Christmas. So in this project, I am going to share with you how to add a simple recording module to a wireless doorbell.
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Step 1: Materials

Picture of Materials
Wireless Doorbell (and required batteries)
9V recording module (RadioShack Model: 276-1323)
9 volt battery

Wire strippers
Wire Cutters
Soldering Iron and Solder (optional)
Hot glue and hot glue gun (optional)

Step 2: Background: How the Wireless Doorbell Receiver Works

Picture of Background: How the Wireless Doorbell Receiver Works
The circuit of the wireless receiver is divided into five main parts.

1. The Radio Receiver: This section filters and amplifies the incoming radio signal.
2. The Decoder Array: This array of jumpers is used to set either the device's tuning frequency or the security code on the IC chip. This helps to prevent it from interfering with other nearby wireless devices.
3. The IC Chip: The IC Chip monitors the incoming signal and detects when the button on the transmitter has been pressed. When the signal is detected, it sends a tone to the speaker.
4. The Volume Control: This is a simple transistor amplifier that uses a variable resistor to set the speaker volume.
5. The Speaker: The speaker is a plain 0.25W speaker. It is wired between the positive supply voltage and the volume control transistor.

Step 3: Background: How the Recording Module Works

Picture of Background: How the Recording Module Works
This recording module can store sound clips up to 20 seconds long. The play function is activated when the play pin on the chip is set to the logical LOW state (in this case less than 4 volts). This is normally accomplished by pressing the play button which connects the pin to ground (0 volts). It can also be done with an external switch. A close inspection of the circuit board reveals that there are two open pinholes that are also connected to the play pin. By attaching one wire to ground and one wire to either of these pinholes, you can use a secondary circuit or switch to activate the recording module. In this project we will be using the output of the wireless receiver as the switch to initiate the play function.

Step 4: Remove the Original Speaker

Picture of Remove the Original Speaker
The first step is to remove the original speaker. It will be replaced by the recording module which has its own speaker. Begin by removing any covers on the receiver so that the circuit board and the speaker are visible. Disconnect the speaker from the board by cutting the wires at the speaker terminals. Remove any screws or fasteners that may be holding the speaker in place. Then remove the speaker from the housing. The speaker may be held in place by glue. If it does not peel away easily, you may need to use a sharp knife to carefully cut the speaker free.

Step 5: Prepare the Wires on the Receiver

Picture of Prepare the Wires on the Receiver
The only parts on the receiver that we will be modifying are the wires that went to the original speaker. First we need to determine the polarity of the speaker. Most speakers have their positive and negative terminals labeled. But if they are not labeled, you will need to determine this by examining how they are hooked up to the circuit board. In my receiver, one speaker wire is connected to the positive supply voltage (the red wire). I am calling this the positive speaker wire. The other speaker wire is connected to the volume control transistor. I am calling this the negative speaker wire.

Cut the positive speaker wire as close to the circuit board as possible. This leaves you with a loose piece of wire. Strip at least 1/2" of insulation off both ends. On the negative wire, strip off at least 1/2" of insulation from the free end.

Step 6: Connect the Receiver to the Recording Module

Picture of Connect the Receiver to the Recording Module
The positive speaker wire that we just separated is used to connect the negative terminal of the receiver battery pack to the negative terminal of the recording module battery. Take one end of the positive wire and insert it into the negative terminal of the 9 volt battery. Then attach the 9 volt battery connector for the recording module. This should pinch the wire and hold it in place. Then take the other end of the wire and wrap it tightly around the negative terminal of the receiver battery pack. Once you have everything mounted, the wires should stay in place. But if you want everything to be extra secure, you can tape them in place. I do not recommend trying to solder wires to a battery terminal. 

The negative speaker wire will be used to connect the receiver output transistor to the play pin on the recording module. One end of the wire is already connected to the output transistor. So we just need to connect the free end to one of the play pin holes that were mentioned in Step 2. You don't need to solder the wire to the recording module. You can make a good connection by just twisting the wires together around the board. To do this, Insert a few strands of the wire through one of the holes (the hole is probably too small to fit the whole wire). Then twist the strands of wire back together. As long as wires are tight, it should make a good connection and stay in place.

Step 7: Final Assembly

Picture of Final Assembly
Then just insert all the parts into the housing and your customizable doorbell is complete. If you don't want the parts to be loose, you can fix them in place with hot glue or some other adhesive. To set the ringtone, just hold the microphone up to your computer speakers and press the record button as you play whatever sound file that you want to use. Then, whenever someone pressed the button on the transmitter, it will play your custom ringtone.

Design Notes:
The recording module that I used was not as loud as the original tone. So if you want to make it louder you can replace the speaker on the recording module or use it as the input to powered computer speakers.

Since the play button also functions as a stop button, the playback will be interrupted if someone presses the doorbell multiple times before the tone is finished. You can fix this by adding a capacitor between the recording module's ground and play pin. This will also help prevent stuttered playback that may happen with some wireless doorbells.

nt62 months ago

Hi, I have a question about this. What 2 points on the circuit board would you jumper to make this doorbell ring manually? I do have the wireless doorbell button, but I need to find a way to "manually" jumper this circuit board and make the chime go off without the wireless button. I'm doing a different project that requires the chime to be triggered with a "closed" signal sent thru 2 wires directly to the circuit board, from one of my home automation devices (an I/O Linc). Basically all I need to do is find a way to manually jumper the board to make the chime to go off. Thanks in advance!

DIY Hacks and How Tos (author)  nt62 months ago

Each board is a little different. Send me a close up picture of both sides of the board on the doorbell reciever.

raines8831 year ago
I love this idea, great instructable! I did have a quick question, I'm working on transforming my front door from what it is now to look like the blue phone box from Doctor Who. Something like this would be perfect so that I could record the TARDIS sound and have it play when someone rings the bell. My only question is, how could I go about doing that so it sounds loud and clear? Either way I'll try your instructable and let you know how it goes. Can't believe there aren't more customize-able ones out there. Thanks again!
There are a few commercial version available but thet are a little more expensive,

Ranie-K2 years ago
DIY Hacks and How Tos (author)  Ranie-K2 years ago
I post all of my projects to Instructables, Make Projects, and
The author is just moving them over from Make and his personal website. :)
poofrabbit2 years ago
Congratulations on being a finalist in the DIY Audio Contest!! Good luck to you!
You are a thief this project site?
That was a little embarrassing... :P
I see that you have come across my MakeProjects account. I am an active member of both communities and I post all of my projects to both websites. I appreciate your concern.
agis682 years ago
i liked th wooden box....i had the same doorbell and never thought to close it in a neat.
Frankcw2 years ago
This is a cool How to. The doorbell with the wood on the sides is a Heath Zenith 8-Note Melody Wireless Doorbell. I have one and that's why this instructable caught my eye.

scottnath2 years ago

Could you give more details on the original doorbell? I've had a devil of a time finding a good one...

Unfortunately, I have no idea what brands or models that I used. I moved into a new house and there were two wireless doorbells there. The circuits were really similar in terms of how they activated the buzzer. So I assume that it is a pretty common design. The setup that I used will work as long as the ringer is using a transistor to short the negative terminal of the speaker to ground.
mathman472 years ago
Great idea, and really so simple. Now add an amp to drive a larger speaker.
Can one just "jumper" the original speaker wiring to make the recorder play at a remote (additional) location (like the basement or laundry room)?
I used a wireless doorbell, so you are free to put it anywhere. But it would only work for one location. If you wanted to add a second ringer, you would need to get an additional receiver and recording module and then match the encoding combination on the receiver board.
yoyology2 years ago
Next step: RFID. Each family member gets a different ringtone, so you know who's at the door without a peephole! :-)
This is great.