Introduction: Add Headphone Jack to Bop It and Toggle On/Off Primary Speaker

My first Bop It not only had the distinct honor of being my favorite toy, one that I played with every day for hours while pacing around the house in a concentrated trance, but also held the honor of being my parents' least favorite toy.  Why would such an amazingly fun toy make my parents want to bop their own brains in?


Bop It had no "silent mode," no way to plug in headphones or make it such that one person, alone, could play it without the whole room knowing that he was about to twist it again.  As a small child this didn't bother me at all, but as a 22 year old with a recent Black Friday $10 Bop It, living in a college dorm has necessitated a more subtle Bop It.  That is why I felt it necessary to install a headphone jack and devise a way to mute the primary speaker.

What you start with
Bop It with
-  no headphone jack
- Twist It, Pull It, Bop It, Shout It

What you end up with after mod
Bop it with
- headphone jack that always outputs Bop It instructions
- Twist It, Pull It, Bop It, and NO Shout It
- Shout It slider turns primary speaker On/Off

NOTE - This mod disables Shout It mode by re-purposing it to turn on/off the primary speaker.  This is ok because a)  Shout It mode is stupid and b) if you're concerned with making your Bop It quieter by including a headphone jack, Shout It mode is probably not something you're interested in.

Step 1: What You'll Need

- Bop It - $20.47 on Amazon
- 1/8" (3.5mm) stereo headphone jack - $2.99 for two at RadioShack
- 1 kOhm resistor - $0.99 for five at RadioShack
- Soldering iron/solder
- Wire strippers
- High gauge braided wire
- Small phillips screwdriver
- Drill with 1/4" bit
- Pliers (or fingertips of steel)

- Fine tipped tweezers for wire management and holding wires while soldering
- Electrical tape/hot glue to insulate solder joints

Step 2: Stereo to Mono

As awesome as Bop Its are, they don't have stereo sound, so the headphone jack from RadioShack actually has too much functionality.  Luckily, there's an easy solution to that!

There are three tabs on the 3.5mm jack:  Left, Right, and Ground.  The ground pin is isolated from the other two and, for our purposes, it doesn't matter which tab is left versus right because we're just going to bridge the two of them with some wire.

If you do not do this step you will only hear the Bop It from one ear of your headphones, which would be annoying to say the least.

BEND the tab that's FARTHEST from the GROUND tab and solder it to the remaining audio tab.  It's important to bend this particular tab because it will interfere with the Difficulty Selection circuitry later if you don't.

Step 3: Opening the Bop It

Use the small phillips screwdriver to remove the screws from the main white body of the Bop It.  The two halves are connected via three wires so it will not be possible to completely separate them but they can be separated enough to lay side by side on a table, providing plenty of access to the internals.

Four potential pieces could fall out of the Bop It:
Small white reset switch
Difficulty selection switch
Twist It (this will fall out, trust me)
Pull It lever/cam

All four are relatively trivial to reinstall.  Twist It will take some studying but once you get a sense for it it's easy to reinstall (which is good, because it will fall out a ton).  You should probably just remove it until you're all done.  The two ends of the torsion spring push against a small rectangular piece of plastic on the inside of the main wall of the Bop It. 

Step 4: Positioning and Drilling Audio Jack Hole

For a variety of reasons (proximity to wiring, space, and cord placement during gaming) I decided to place the audio jack immediately below the reset switch.

To position the hole correctly, first snip off the top piece of plastic that is helping to organize the wires between two bosses/standoffs (labeled in picture).  Then lift the wires up and out of the way of the audio jack cavity (also labeled in picture).  Position the audio jack with the bent lead facing the Difficulty Selection circuitry.  If you orient it with the unbent lead facing the circuitry you are likely to short the audio to the Difficulty Selection (not a good thing).

With the audio jack loosely positioned (it won't settle down all the way because you haven't drilled the hole yet, so the input part will be resting on the outer wall edge), mark on the outside of the Bop It where to drill the access hole.

Reassemble the Bop It and, using the 1/4" drill bit, drill a hole centered on both the mark and the parting line of the Bop It.

Step 5: Circuit Diagram

Before beginning the actual wiring, let's talk a bit about what we're trying to accomplish (and give some credit to the guy whose Instructable made me even consider doing this mod). 

As it is currently wired, the audio signal from the circuit board in the Bop It goes directly through the primary speaker.  The circuitry I've added puts the audio jack in parallel with the primary speaker so that sound comes out of both. 

The resistor in front of the audio jack reduces the volume (it's unbearably loud without the resistor) and improves the sound quality (it was very very tinny without the resistor).  Credit for the value and inclusion of the resistor (and for introducing me to this particular audio jack) goes to Rich Fiddler and his Altoids Tin Stereo Mixer Instructable.

The switch in the circuit diagram is actually the switch from the Shout It mechanism.  The Shout It mechanism uses the green slider to push a lever that in turn depresses a momentary switch (normally off).  By cutting its connection to the circuit board, the switch can then be used to switch anything else, in this case it serves the role seen in the role seen in the circuit diagram (enabling/disabling the primary speaker).

Step 6: Wiring

Step 1:  Make sure that you clipped the small white piece of plastic retaining the wires between the two bosses/standoffs.  The piece of plastic is highlighted in the image in Step 4.  With the wires more accessible, follow the wires from the Shout It switch to the main circuit board (not the little one with the Shout It button on it) and snip them off near the main circuit board.  Strip the ends of the long wires that now lead to the switch but are no longer connected to the main circuit board.

Step 2:  Tighten the audio jack into the half-hole that you've just drilled in the body of the Bop It. 

Step 3:  Cut the wire leading from the main circuit board to the bottom of the speaker (cut it about in half).  Strip both ends.

Step 4:  Create your first junction.  This junction should connect the following wires:
1)  Signal wire coming from the board (the one you just snipped that led to the bottom of the speaker)
2)  One of the wires from the Shout It switch
3)  A wire leading from the resistor which is attached to the audio tab of the audio jack (you'll need to add this wire and resistor).  Audio Tab --> Resistor --> Wire --> Junction (resistor not shown in first picture, my apologies, but you can see it in the second picture).

Step 5:  Create your second junction:  This junction should connect the following wires:
1)  Unused Shout It wire (the one not used for Junction 1 in step 4)
2)  Signal wire leading from bottom of primary speaker

Step 6:  Cut the wire leading from the top of the primary speaker to the main circuit board.  This is the ground wire for the primary speaker and you will need to splice the ground from the audio jack into it.  Strip the ends of the wire after you have clipped it.

Step 7:  Create your third junction:  This junction should connect the following wires:
1 and 2)  The two ends of the the primary speaker ground wire from Step 6.
3)  A wire leading from the ground tab of the audio jack (you'll need to add this wire).

You may choose to insulate each of your junctions with electrical tape or hot glue.  I did not because nothing was near anything else.  It's up to you.

Step 7: Seal 'er Up

Time to put everything back together!  Make sure that Twist It is put back in place, that Pull IT isn't sucked up into the main body, make sure that all the plastic bits are back in place, and that your wires aren't interfering with anything.  You may need to do some detective work if the Bop It doesn't quite fit together by figuring out what wires are obstructing it where.  It does close nicely if done correctly.

Screw all the screws back in and then take your fingers of steel (or pliers) and tighten the ring from the audio jack down, securely attaching it to the body of the Bop It.

Step 8: Done!

That's it!  Test it to make sure it works.  The green Shout It switch should turn the primary speaker on and off.  Sound should always come out of the audio jack, regardless of the state of the primary speaker.

To change the volume, just Twist It during the mode selection menu.

Enjoy your new and silent Bop It!

Epilog Challenge

Participated in the
Epilog Challenge