Picture of Universal Earbud/Headphone Volume Control

So I bought a PMP (Portable Media Player) from Hong Kong so i could play my NES games with the on-board emulator wherever was convenient. Long road trips, flights, waiting rooms, etc. are places that I like to kill time with portable media but the only trouble was that the on-board emulator only had one volume......MAXIMUM. My earbuds of choice didn't have adjustable volume so i needed a solution to turn the game music down a little, I ended up coming up with the 3.5mm Earbud/Headphone Volume Adjuster.

Note: Turns out I'm not the only one with this idea, I did a quick search on Youtube and found this tutorial! I was even able to find a few commercial versions of this idea out there but they were $10-20.

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Step 1: Tools & Materials Needed

Picture of Tools & Materials Needed

Materials you will need:

- Safety Glasses, Safety First!
- 3.5mm Male Stereo Audio Jack
- 3.5mm Female Stereo Audio Jack
- Small gauge Stereo Audio wire
- 1Kohm Thumbwheel Audio Potentiometer for Volume Control
- Heat Shrink Tubing
- Solder
- Solder Sucker or Braid (in case of emergency)

Tools you will need:

- Hot Glue Gun
- Soldering Iron
- Wirestrippers
- Heat Gun (optional - you can use a soldering iron to carefully melt heat shrink)
-Digital Multimeter to test connections (may only need it if you have issues)

Thank you for this very nice instructable! I like the thumbwheel. This gives you the possiblity to have the volume just right, while with pushbuttons, you have to choose a preset volume level (1,2,3,...) and cannot choose one in between 2 levels.

i know this post is dead, but what if i used a 10k pot for the volume control? how would that effect audio signal? there arent ant 1k pots locally and ordering online for one is my absolute last resort
Skater_j10 (author)  guywith2names3 years ago
Naw this post isn't dead, it may have been popular for a little while then it faded into obscurity, but like any instructable it's still here as a resource and I still support it. Anyway, to answer your question, yes you can definitely use a 10K pot BUT you will not have a very large volume range, you will quiet the volume a lot quicker. Oh yes, and know that a regular linear potentiometer won't work well for adjusting volume, your pot will have to have what's called a Audio Taper or Logarithmic Taper. Sorry, but you most likely have to order online Audio taper thumbwheel pots aren't common.
Skater_j10 (author) 4 years ago
So for those curious about the Media Player I'm using you can find more info by by checking out eBay or Dealextreme.

I found mine on eBay for $40 but they are now just over $20 for the 4GB version. At DX it's a little bit pricier (and only 2GB) but ordering from them is a sure thing.

Some cool features are: Voice recording, NES emulator, Low MegaPixel Camera, Video & audio play back (with volume adjustment that works :D ), Slide screen, Rechargeable internal Battery & Expandable SD memory card slot.

Cons: Buttons click very loud - don't play on an airplane unless you like people angrily staring at you, NES emulator volume cannot be adjusted (with the version I own), & with the Power Button you have to hold it down for a while to turn the unit on and off.

Thank you all for your interest!

I just got one from my aunt's co-worker and I've been wondering, have you been able to put some movies onto your PMP yet? Much help please? ;D
PSPerson4 years ago
OR you could just put CFW on your PSP and play all sorts of emulator games there =] jus' sayin.
Skater_j10 (author)  PSPerson4 years ago
Thanks for the suggestion but I've done that as well. I found that while the PSP does emulate pretty good it's got minimal extra functions. It does have WiFi and video/audio playback but the browsing experience is quite clumsy and it's clunky to use as an mp3 player. I guess all I'm saying is that with the Pandora it meets most of my needs (wants) with a seeming limitless set of options/extras and hopefully the hardware feels better that my PMP. Its got the best of both worlds + Dual Analog Nubs :) !
nice. any android device could also work. nesoid, snesoid, gameboid, and the like are pretty good.
sqeeek4 years ago
Nice instructable, I love the PMP too, lol. Amazing how cheap that thing is. How's it work? Is it worth your $35?
Skater_j10 (author)  sqeeek4 years ago
Well hard to say if it's worth the cash, cause I intended it to be my all-in-one portable media solution but the user interface (UI) was sub-par and I was so disappointed with feel (and unresponsiveness) of the buttons that I didn't ever use it. All I use it for now is an MP3 player so if you are willing to spend ~20-40 bones on a 4GB MP3 player then I'd say yes it's worth it.

Since I purchased my PMP I've moved upwards and onwards and have pre-ordered a new all-in-one solution (without Camera, but doubles as a netbook) which is the Pandora.

Actually it's funny that while researching for a great media player/emulation device and wanting something with more functionality than the PSP and better quality hardware than my PMP I ended up finding many better PMP/emulation devices. I came across other cool handhelds like the Dingoo and Wiz, but eventually found and fell in love with the Pandora (well i guess the concept since I'm still waiting to receive the hardware).

Funny you should mention the "PANDORA" as a friends son was invited to help assembly the first batch & was offered a unit. Maybe you could have a working holiday to the UK?
Dang, wish I got those kind of invitations. Lucky kid ;)
Ooh, looks cool. I might just give that a try :D Hmm... I wonder how hard it would be to build one? I have a lot of old PPC and WinCE device parts... and some old game controllers... hmm... Maybe use old laptop or netbook parts? *has a new project to try*
Win7Maniac4 years ago
Good to know the PMP still lives, and the iPod hasn't completely taken over. At least I'm not the only one still using them now! ;P Great 'ible
shepnstein4 years ago
I've never heard of a PMP. That's cool that it can do NES emulation. If the hardware isn't fun for playing NES games (loud clicking, etc.), consider using a flash cartridge for the Gameboy Advance. NES Emulation on the Gameboy Advance works perfectly and the button layout is just like the old NES controllers.
Skater_j10 (author)  shepnstein4 years ago
Quite ironic, I actually did consider doing that but eventually found out about the Pandora (see comments below) and decided to put all my eggs in one basket instead of investing in other products. I forgot to mention that the Pandora can emulate N64 and PS1 and almost every console pre-dating them. With all this interest in portable media players maybe we should start an Instructables group on the subject?!?!
sqeeek4 years ago
Volume controls off an old radio might work, no?
Skater_j10 (author)  sqeeek4 years ago
Well I am going to do some more research on audio taper thumbwheel potentiometers in the near future, and I tell you what, I'll also take apart an old radio that I have in my Junk box and let you know if it'll work. (May take me a few weeks to get to it though)
Cool, thanks :)
nabsol4 years ago
where do you get shrink tubes at?
Skater_j10 (author)  nabsol4 years ago
Thanks guys for answering this question! Just wanted to add that I bought my multi-colored/sized 2:1 Heat shrink tubing kit here. Active Electronics is the same company as Futurelec. There are many good places online to find this stuff but you can always find some locally at electrical, instrumentation, automotive, and sometimes Hardware stores. (Ex: Princess Auto and Canadian Tire in Canada)
hhiippyy nabsol4 years ago
also you can buy it on and wirh freee shippping, I bought mine there
Patman27 nabsol4 years ago
it's heat-shrink tubing, you can pick some up at the RatShack. or internet. Your choice.
Hey cool instructable. to fix the 10k issue put each output resistance in parallel with a 1k resistor. When the volume knob is a short it will be 0 ohms and when it gets to 10k it will be .9k (10*1/10+1).
babiedol4 years ago
thank you thank you thank you. :) I have needed this for my MP3 player, I had finally found the ear buds that are comfortable for my small ear canals and unfortunately they didn't have a volume control on them. :) And your right, I do have all the supplies I need for this project. :)
Optical104 years ago
Very nice instructions and video, thank you. Also is any chance of you telling us what the make and model of the PMP you are using? It really resembles the Sony Vaio VGN-UX50 uPC , awesome! Thanks in advance
zack2474 years ago
ah, the psp 1000, the only true psp, invincible to anything
johnomi4 years ago
I brought that PMP in Dubai, I dropped it and the screen cracked. :(
frannek4 years ago
This looks very good, it is just what I need. I use my phone as a mp3-player, and it is not possible to turn the volume as far down as I'd like, especially in quiet surroundings. I can't wait to get home and try my hand at this, thank you very much!
CapnTac4 years ago
Very cool, but I'd like some information on that PMP, looks exactly what I've been wanting, and for less than 40 bucks!
tbone1214 years ago
can you watch videos on that player, i want one