Make an audio looper for under $20

Step 1: Gather Your Parts

Get all these parts, available from your local Radioshack:

1. 20-second recording module, part #276-1323
2. Two output jacks of your choice (I used 1/8" mono phone jacks)
3. 1 SPST toggle switch
4. 1 (or more) N.O. momentary pushbutton switches
5. 1 9V battery
6. A cool box/container to put it in
7. Suppplies that I assume you already have: wire, wire clippers, solder, a soldering iron

Step 2: Explore and Prepare the PCB

This is a drawing I made of the small circuit board that is the entirety of the recording module. It has a little speaker, 9V battery clip, pushbutton switch on an attached mini PCB, another pushbutton switch attached to the main board, a black-blob IC, and various resistors, capacitors, and a transistor.

Step 3: Surgery!

Pry the little tabs up which keep the pushbutton on the main board. They are on the back of the board. The button itself should come off really easily.

Cut the wire leading to the speaker at point A, or you can simply desolder where they join to the PCB.

Locate R3, which is labeled on the board itself. If you can't read the numbers on the board, it's the resistor at the top, if your board is oriented like the picture above. The lead on the inside, point C, is where you will solder one wire. Attatch the other end of that wire to one lug of an SPST toggle switch. Attach another wire between the other lug and either one of the points where the speaker attatches to the board; mine is at point B. This is the loop connection.

Step 4: I/O

Here's where you give your looper ears and a voice. Solderin two wire at each point where the speaker wires were. At the end of each, attatch the audio jack of your choice: 1/4", 1/8", RCA, etc. I used 1/8" minijacks.

Some optional steps:
1. Detatch the existing pushbutton switch on the smaller PCB at SW2. I did this and replaced it with an easier-to-mount N.O. momentary pushbutton switch.
2. Make a new one-shot switch by soldering directly to the exposed traces where the button on the main board used to be.

Step 5: Finished (almost)!

And there you have it, a finished looper. All that's left is to house it in something. I put mine in a Fossil company watch tin. These are great for smaller projects like this; they're compact, easy to drill, and are funky-colored. Of course, spray paint is always an option.

To record, hook up some sort of input device to either jack, hold down the momentary puchbutton switch you either did or didn't wire into SW2, and speak/puch play/press a key/whatever you're doing to make sound. I wired the headphone jack on my laptop to it and play clips of recorded audio. When you're done recording (up to 20 seconds), let go of the button, and flip the toggle switch (after plugging a speaker up to the other jack). It will loop continuously. Some cool percussion loops can be made using this simple method.

The looper has some quirks associated with it, but i'll let yoou figure them out, it's more fun that way.
<p>Hello!!! I am novice yet!!! where can i find the istructions? where is the PCB circuit? I must be PRO??Thank you!!</p>
<p>Here is the latest on getting the newest module to loop!!</p>
Anyone managed to this using multiple tracks? Thanks
Hey I tried to do it and it works but i dont know how to make it loop continously any help?
What camera did you use for the instructable pictures?
Hi there Nice hack, I was wondering if you could post a video of your looper in action?
<p>I ordered 2 of these&nbsp; (A96010) a while back and tried to build a looper for some fun with my guitar based on&nbsp;this very cool instructable. Here is the link where the spec sheep is available for the parts I have.<br /> <a href="http://www.electronics123.com/s.nl/it.A/id.499/.f?category=2" rel="nofollow">http://www.electronics123.com/s.nl/it.A/id.499/.f?category=2</a><br /> I&nbsp;had built&nbsp;a working model.&nbsp;I didnt mind&nbsp;the&nbsp;pause between loops, or oscollation that would build up after&nbsp;a a handfull of loops,&nbsp;the only thing that&nbsp;it lacked&nbsp;was&nbsp;the ability&nbsp;to have a live signal get through at the same time a loop was playing back, so I could play overtop. Maybe he on/off (single pole) play button iscolated the signal? I&nbsp;also tried having&nbsp;the input&nbsp;connected to the input terminal as well as the output jack simoultaneously with no result.&nbsp;I would be glad to build an instructable if any of you could take a look at the chip and throw ideas at me to troubleshoot. I have dismantled the pedal since (and stupid me didnt evan get one pic while it was assembled) but now I have an opportunity to start from square one, and record my progress to share it with all. + I plan on building 2 of these.</p>
I've been running into the same issues with loop and playback. I was thinking of trying some diodes where they connect, so the signal can't travel backwards (Ithink thats where the problem is).&nbsp;
&nbsp;Is there any way to get a longer recording bit or multiple tracks?&nbsp;<br /> <br />
<em>I would suspect you need multiple circuts for multiple tracks connected to the same output, and a shared power supply maybe? As far as longer recording time on the A93010 module you can swap the 52k resistor for and 89k resistor for 30 seconds total rec. time. The rec. quality will be reduced from 6.4KHz to 4.0KHz. I would just keep the 20 seconds IMO.</em>
<p>also wanted to mention&nbsp;parts&nbsp;most of you are using are&nbsp;not availabe in Canada. The&nbsp;parts I ordered and the site I found to order from online was the only place that would ship these type of electronics here. Sadly Radio Shack&nbsp;turned into&nbsp;&quot;The Source&quot; ...same store different name but the parts availibility for this kind of stuff&nbsp;became very dismal. The modification is essentally still the same across the board.</p>
hey! AWESOME project... thanks so much for this! I got a similar version of this board, I'm not sure if it will work with this or not, but I certainly hope it does work. I will find out tomorrow. Does anyone know if I could get the LED that is on the board to shine through the enclosure I'm putting it into? This would be a great help! THANKS!
Okay, so the revised board DOES NOT WORK!!!! It will play back once, but I can not find a way to make it loop. Check your local radio shack, mine had one of the older boards in stock... good luck!
<p>Just found this circuit for looping the&nbsp;newer radio shack sound module.&nbsp; <br /> <br /> <u><font color="#0000ff">http://www.flickr.com/photos/jaypee4227/2158771745/</font></u></p>
today I bought a little 16 sec voice recorder (5 EU) <br /> First it did not loop but when I bypassed the playbutton and accidentaly conneczted it to mic + it suddently looped... Don&acute;t now why. To start the playback I now have to connect the playbutton to ground.. Still experimenting. <br /> <br /> Problems still to solve: <br /> <br /> When the looper power is set to on the Looper imediately starts to play...<br /> ther is a little sound gap (time seems to fit) between the loops
<p>I haven't tried it yet, but this circuit looks like it would work with the new module.&nbsp; <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/jaypee4227/2158771745/" rel="nofollow">http://www.flickr.com/photos/jaypee4227/2158771745/</a></p>
has anyone experimented with differant caps to change the the rate of the reapeats?<br />
AWESOME!!! By the way, I did mine inside a Rubbermaid container I got for $2 at Target. I can stand on this thing and it holds up, it was super-easy to drill out, the rubber lid grips the floor pretty well, and it's easy to replace the battery!
Has anyone made one from the new radioshack recorder? (As mentioned the schematic is different) I would really love to still be able to make the looper... Thanks!
I just bought the new circuit. It is possible, but it is going to be much harder to get to work. The new one uses micro resistors and micro capacitors... so it'll take some time to figure out. I've been working on figuring it out, and I got it to loop while the playback button is pressed down; however, there is a Sawtooth LFO added to the sound as it progressively loops. As soon as I figure this new circuit out, I will make an instructable about it.
awesome! thanks allen
Hey, so did anyone get this thing to work with the new schematics? I'm really interested.
no, unfortunately, i never figured it out. please let me know if you do!
yeah im interested in this as well...
allen, that sounds great. keep me posted with your progress please!
colin: the recording module came assembled, so I had to clip some wires and use my trusty desoldering braid a bit, but no big deal, it was minimal deconstruction. b.scott: the output is fairly high, and I imagine it would work to put a pot in line with one of the jacks, I might have to try something like that. I was also thinking of something like a bunch of these chained together, output to the next ones input, then the last one out to a mixer. You could inter-sample them, get some wicked cool drum samples... I think I just drooled a little...
Actually, it is so hot that it powers my halfstack cab. Lol. When recording on multiple loopers, make sure you start recording on the one that is closest to the amp... then work your way back to the guitar end... that way, you only have one instrument per looper.
So has anyone figured out the trouble with the new schematic yet? I was really enthusiastic about that looper because I really can't find anything that does the same thing : Looping sound sample at a lowcost. But with all those people looking for a solution, I'm just curious if this issues has been worked out by anyone...
I was really looking forward to making this project until I saw that they had changed the the schematic of the sound recorder. I also am curious about whether there is a way to use the new chip to make a looper, or whether all of our dreams and aspirations are dead for good.
What i dont understand is why I cant hear my guitar through my amp w/o looping. There is a direct connection between the input and output. Is the signal from the guitar too weak to get to the amp with the looping circuit hanging off of it? If so is a preamp necessary? I just want to be able to play while my loop is looping.
I was going to remedy that problem with a 1in2out cable and a tiny dod battery powered 'mini mixer' with all my stuff going into my amp. I don't play guitar, I play tapes... so I guess that works for me? hopefully it will help you.
try additional wiring direct from the input jack to output jack bypassing the circuit board altogether, the circuit is designed to only allow the playback or loop to send to the output, if someone was more of an expert they could probably figure out how to make this thing work like atraditional guitar effects unit by using a stompswitch, either a dpdt or 3pdt w/ true by pass switching and a better LED.
ok the wiring is abit tricky and w/ trial and error i came up w/ something its not great but it sorta worked for me. i used a 100k volume pot, wired the input jack to it then wired the pot to the output jack. then wired the speaker/mic connections from the board of the 20 second module to the volume pot. remember when looking at the bottom of the pot, there are 3 lugs the left lug is the input signal path, middle lug is the output signal path, and the right lug is ground.
Whoah, sorry about all the double posts, my comments weren't showing up so I posted them several times... I guess there's a time delay (this is my first project on instructables, still learning). <br/><br/>Indeed I do have an audio clip. I sampled my circuit-bent Speak &amp; Math, let it run, and then let the Speak &amp; Math play underneat it. It's a pretty cool effect, although the quality wasn't the best as I was just recording through my laptop's internal mic. Here's the clip: <a rel="nofollow" href="http://www.manningave.com/blog/media/looper.wav">http://www.manningave.com/blog/media/looper.wav</a> (2.4 MB)<br/>
Fun project. I did this with my son last night and he's got it at school today. LOL. Do you have any writeups on how you circuit-bent the Speak&Math? I've got a bunch of old talking toys that I'd like to mess with...
Success so far! used a shell from an old broken Digitech PDS pedal, made it dual output one has the mix of dry signal w/ the looped signal, the other only has the loop. added 2 volume pots for each output, one affects the volume the other controls more of the tone/distortion level of the looped signal. used a a push on/push off stomp-like switch instead of toggle so i could use my feet (since i could use this if i want w/ guitar) for the loop. going to try to have a standard effects unit LED added. Overall its nice to get a 20 second loop w/ a mix/blend control of the loop and dry signals but its extremely lo-fi and horrid sounding which is great and favorable for experimental and noise music.
how can i make the looper record for longer than twenty seconds?
this is a guess based on lengthening the delay in an Electro-Harmonix Deluxe Memory Man... try adding a capacitor to one end of where the "loop switch" is, though i don't know what rated cap you'd want to use, maybe a 0.1 uf? eh this is just a guess...
anyone tried putting a pontentiometer on the output for use with normal musical amps? dont really feel like building the voltage splitter that was posted here....would just a potentiometer on the hot side of the output allow for enough control? could you use a potentiometer as a voltage splitter (i've heard you can but don't know how)? what size pot would be suggested?
hmmm, i did a diy stereo volume pedal (without the rocker foot pedal) but with volume pots each of the outputs and i used a 100K rated pot for both and it worked fine, this is what i'd recommend.
built one a while ago, works great but you have to yurn the guitar down a lot
a volume pot will probably help here, i haven't built this yet but i'm basing this from the little i know about modding/diy guitar effects units... what i would try doing is placing a volume pot between the board and the output jack, probably 100k rated pot (be sure it is wired correctly) and then you can control the volume output on this, a 1k resistor may be necessary on the output signal of the volume pot to prevent unwanted noise (like pickup of radio stations, because of frequency intereference).
Just finished my version, which DOES include both auto looping and the ability to play along with the sample (record/playback level potentiometer). It's extrememly fun, and I'll probably post a new instructable with a step by step in the near future. But for now, I gotta play around with this thing. LONELY-MAN, an up to 20 second sample looper pedal. Featuring ultra-custom old fashioned sealed herringbone fabric stomp pad, external recording and looping indicator led, record/playback level knob (greatly improves sample quality), auto-loop toggle, no-slip rubber pad, all in an indestructable sewing machine pedal. Now I can jam out with my own bad self. It was also built to be expandable, meaning my next pedal with another sample chip will plug into this one, and they will (fingers crossed) loop in tandem.
I did everything that the directions said. I am not getting any audio. I soldered an input for a power adaptor onto mine and the polarity was wrong... so the unit started smoking for a second and I unplugged it really quick... so I wondered if I had fried the memory or something...i reversed the polarity and the indicator lights up for record and playback like the directions say that it will... so its not fried right? idk Please HELP!!!
it sounds fried to me, as the capacitor, transistor, IC and resistors are suspecable to overheating during a wrogn polarity switch or even when soldering... i wouldn't attempt a power adapter unless i really knew what i was doing first.
Please Post It !!! This Looper Was A great Addition To my Diy Audio System , I made it stereo , but yours looks a lot better
Just ordered myself a recording module (anyone from the UK: You can get 20 second recording modules <a rel="nofollow" href="http://www.mutr.co.uk/catalog/product_info.php?products_id=779">here</a>) and am looking forward to making this! If you could explain how you did the auto-looping, and the playing along with the sample, that'd be awesome.<br/>
Can someone post the schematic of the ORIGINAL version of that circuit? I want to try this but i read that the current circuit sold at radioshack is different then that of the one that Dosher used, Dosher can you make a mock pcb layout?
I can't get mine to work either. I don't understand why your picture shows nothing hooked up to where the play button used to be but your list of parts talks about a n.o. momentary switch that you were gonna put there. The LED comes on when I push in the record button, but when i push the playback button, the light flashes after 20 seconds but no audio has come out the entire time. I soldered 1/4 inch input / output jacks up to where the speaker's two wires were... maybe i have them backwards. LED works....NO Sound Please Help!!!!!!!
I love the idea of this device and what some people have done with it. Unfortunately I went to my local Radio Shack, purchased the appropriate electronics only to get home and find out that the design has changed. A couple of more capacitors & several more resistors. Although the unit looks sleeker I'm not sure if this project is still possible with the new board. There's still a "R3" labeled on the unit but wiring as directed doesn't seem to work. Any ideas?

About This Instructable




Bio: I'm a college student enrolled at Boston University, pursuing a chemistry degree. Hailing from Minnesota, I developed a keen interest in music, especially the ... More »
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