Introduction: Mod Radio-cassette Player for Ipod & MP3

Picture of Mod Radio-cassette Player for Ipod & MP3

Modifying an old portable radio-cassette , so that it will play (loud) with any MP3 unit or ipod.
Basic soldering skills recommended, minimal list of parts.
By using a ziplock bag, you make your ipod or MP3 player splashproof , so you can listen to it while in the shower.

Step 1: Headphone Cables

Picture of Headphone Cables

Take a pair of old headphones, cut away the headphones and strip the cables.
Use a cutter, but be very careful not to slice the cable.
Most of us have cheap earphones that were given to us by an airline.
I use these as the cable is relatively thick and easy to strip.
You only need the plug and 50 cm of wire.
Alternatively you can buy a plug and wire.

Step 2: Open the Radio-cassette

Picture of Open the Radio-cassette

With a Phillips screw driver open carefully the radio-cassette.
Keep all the screw, and (if possible) remember where they came from.

Step 3: Recording Head

Picture of Recording Head

Locate the recording head.
There are 3 wires connected to it.
One white, one red and a ground.
Solder them off, or cut them off.

Step 4: Disconnect the Motor

Cut off the wires of the motor of the cassette-player, you won't need it anymore.
The player will be quiter without the motor hiss.
Insulate the wires you cut off.

Step 5: Connect the Wires & Test

Picture of Connect the Wires & Test

Solder the wires coming to the recording head to the wires of your plug.
Of course white to white. Red to red. Ground to ground.
Test the whole setup to see if it works, then insulate them well.

Step 6: Make a Holder for the Ipod or MP3

Not necessary, but it is nice to make a holder.
Use a plastic box to hold your MP3 player or ipod in place, so it won't slip.
You can even splashproof it with a ziplock.

Step 7: Listen to the Music

Picture of Listen to the Music

Turn on your cassette-player on "cassette"
Use a low volume setting on your MP3 or ipod, otherwise you'll have distorted sound.


mastermakoko (author)2012-05-02

Where does the stereo wire plugs out to the "surface"?

How do you keep your ipod in place like that?

wout smeets (author)2010-12-28

i find it out desolder the 2 ends ensolder that to te male audio plug u gottah cose left or right
sorry for my bad inglish i come frome belgium

chefmichel (author)wout smeets2010-12-29

Great to hear that you are Belgian !
Ik ben een Belg , moi aussi, je suis Belge.
Uw vraag is niet duidelijk.
Votre question n'est pas claire.

ivanjacob (author)chefmichel2012-04-09

gaat de versterker niet kapot?? want de leskop geeft een onversterkt singaal en je mp3 is versterkt...

chefmichel (author)ivanjacob2012-04-09

Yes the signal from the MP3 is amplified, but the casette amplifier will not blow.
Just keep the voume of the MP3 player low, otherwise you'll have distortion.

dandrade4 (author)2011-08-16

a lot of newer headphones have cheap thinner wire which is hard to use so it'd be better to get new wire for this. if you can manage or have the right materials to remove the enamel from the cheapo thin wire - they aren't always white red and black. maybe red and blue/green and one copper on each side. so two coppers to the one un-shielded wire and red to red blue/green to white. I would say. that's what i've done when splicing audio devices together.

TheDutchOwner (author)dandrade42011-10-18

If you have old PC speakers, its audio cable works too.

wout smeets (author)2010-12-26

does your boom box has 1 spaeker

chefmichel (author)wout smeets2010-12-26

Look at the first picture.
My boombox has 2 speakers, but I guess it might work with only 1 speaker.

bittu 1 (author)2010-05-02

i had the jack with 3 wire but it broke a now ithas 4 wires 1red 1whait and other 2 without cover will this wire work

chefmichel (author)bittu 12010-05-02

Dear Bittu, it might work.
Experiment, try the red, the white and one without cover.
Bare wires of the red, white and without cover should not touch  eachother.
Ask somebody who as some experience in electronic projects for help.
Good luck to you, have fun.

bittu 1 (author)2010-05-02

mine has only two

stone3408 (author)2006-11-30

Nice Job. Simple effective and good photos. I'll be off to the local second hand store for an old radio. I'm hoping to remove all of the casette mechanical parts and have space to put the mp3 player inside the unit through the old cassette door. Very cool.

chefmichel (author)stone34082006-11-30

Hi Stone, I thought of that too, it is very feaseable, i removed the mechanism, but put it back in, for a few reasons. Removing the mechanism will leave a gap where the buttons were. Most important, I am effraid of the magnets, as Ipods are very sensitive to magnets.You can erase the HD by coming too close. An interesting question; how close can you come to a magnet but be safe ????

raimen (author)chefmichel2010-04-29

In response to the Magnet idea, I have an old (2nd Gen?) Ipod Nano, and was testing different things on it, one of which happened to be a magnet I bought online from, and it had no effect on the ipod. The magnet is registered at a 150pound pull force (easy to crush fingers, even picks up nails from more than a foot away) and had no effect whatsoever. :D

stone3408 (author)chefmichel2006-12-05

Good point about the magnets. I'm using a flash based Mp3 player but, its a problem for ipods.

LasVegas (author)chefmichel2006-11-30

It would take a magnet stronger than one you'd normally run into to damage the data on a hard disk. You might be able to do it if you pulled one from another drive or better yet, built a large electro-magnet. The magnets in a tape player couldn't effect an iPod or any other MP3 player. BTW: Ipod Nanos, Shuffles and many smaller MP3 players use RAM and wouldn't be effected by a normal magnet. Perhaps an electro-magnet able to produce a strong enough magnetic pulse, but that could take out anything electrical.

Fenwick (author)2007-07-28

You are partially mistaken with the stereo wiring. The bare wire is actually positive, and the red and white are negative wires.

raimen (author)Fenwick2010-04-29

Sorry bud, I may be incorrect, but I do believe that red is "positive", white is "negative", and the bare, copper wire is almost always ground.

Chomblebrown (author)2008-08-01

informative. Thanks

dlfynrdr (author)2008-05-03

I'm a bit confused it says to connect the wires from the plug to the wires on the head. red to red. white to whit, and ground to ground. But the plug I'm using (and the one in these photos it seems) only have 2 wires. Am I missing something? Also, on my head (insert crude joke here) there is also a fourth yellow wire. Can somebody help now that I've turned my radio into a jigsaw puzzle?

chefmichel (author)dlfynrdr2008-05-11

I think you have a wrong plug. Try with another one. Chefmichel

paquith (author)2008-02-08

I just did it on my old JVC PC-X570 portable sound system. It work great, the instructions were strait forward. I wired a 1/8" female stereo jack in the back, so that it could be plugged without changing the look. I plan to use it in my garage to play MP3 music. Thanks

ledzep567 (author)2007-12-26

does it have to be a tape player? can it be a CD/Radio/Cassette player?

chefmichel (author)ledzep5672007-12-30

Mine is an old radio cassette player, as it was laying around. I guess that it should work with a CD/radio/cassette player, but read the Chanio comment; "Before opening and changing something in your radio-cassette... Have you checked out that there is no AUX input already built at the side of it? If there is, then , just consider buying a cable to connect both your iPod and your radio-cassette. And plug it in whenever you want to do it."

Chanio (author)2007-08-10

Before you start, please read this:

Before opening and changing something in your radio-cassette...
Have you checked out that there is no AUX input already built at the side of it?

If there is, then , just consider buying a cable to connect both your iPod and your radio-cassette. And plug it in whenever you want to do it.

Then use you time learning another interesting DiY Instructable project... :)

If you don't have the AUX input, then go on reading this great and interesting Instructable. Enjoy!

chefmichel (author)Chanio2007-08-12

Hi Chanio, you are absolutely right, if and when an AUX input exists, use it. Unfortunately most of the cheap radio cassettes of the 1980-1990 's did not come with this option. In 1970 a portable radio-cassette player was considered high-tech !

websterz (author)2007-07-19

I have been looking for a way to do this so I can use my Zen Micro at work, no headphones allowed. Only took 20 minutes and I am sitting here listening to my mp3's thru a previously junk stereo. Thanks for a great instructable!!!!

chefmichel (author)websterz2007-07-29

Thank you for your positive feedback. I hope you blast the music loud enough so everyone in your building can enjoy.

chefmichel (author)2006-11-30

I have to test if it works as a guitar amplifier.

teknoman (author)chefmichel2007-02-25

it should work as a guitar amp

PCvsMac (author)teknoman2007-05-31

Hmmm... I have an idea! When you do the recording head, is it possible to add some extra wire, solder a 1/8in jack to the remaining of the wires of which the recording head came off of,plug into your guitar,connect the 9V battery into the compartment and start jamming? Would that work?

chefmichel (author)PCvsMac2007-05-31

Why add some wire ? Use the plug you already attached. Adding extra wires will increase the hum. It works as a guitar amp, but with my radio-cassette the sound is distorted. It seems the guitar signal is too strong, even if you turn down the guitar potentiometer. Maybe an adequate resistance will do. I have not experimented further, but keep me posted if you do.

garrettmikesmith (author)2006-12-04

oh, and what do you mean by mass, a ground or a common wire?

Yes, ground or common wire indeed. Pardon my mistakes, as English is not my mother language.

i understand, but in step 3, i only see 2 wires.

garrettmikesmith (author)2006-12-04

i'm gonna rig a switch for the wires going in, as well as the motor, so i wont break anything. i plan on using a small handheld tape player with a speaker on it, so i'll have a tiny speaker system for anywhere.

chardman (author)2006-12-01

That's very cool and simple. Your photos and text were very clear and helpful. I think I'll try that myself. I suppose that I could simply try to wire a 1/8" female stereo jack instead, so that it could be plugged in and would look neater. Thanks for the great post!

chefmichel (author)chardman2006-12-01

Yes,that is the idea ! But the wire is too short , and you have to be very handy to do that.

chefmichel (author)2006-11-30

OOPS.....I just found out that Pfmia posted a similar project on 21 Sept 2006. "Connect an MP3 player to a tape player by Pfmia"

ewilhelm (author)chefmichel2006-11-30

Having multiple Instructables that show the same project is great. There plenty of different ways to get to the same thing, and everyone can benefit from seeing more than one way.

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