Minty Tunes: Bluetooth Audio Player (w/ Rechargeable Battery)

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Introduction: Minty Tunes: Bluetooth Audio Player (w/ Rechargeable Battery)

About: Dolce is a Musician and New Media artist. She likes experimenting, taking things apart, and hopefully putting them back together again.

So... I lost my iPhone headphone adapter a couple days ago... and the first thought that came to my mind was, "This is the perfect excuse to convert my headphones into wireless ones!" After a handful of wacky days and nights... Minty Tunes was born (homage to ye olde Minty Boost!). 👾

Please check out the video above☝️to see it working!

All the components managed to fit into a tiny Altoids Smalls tin, making a small but mighty bluetooth device! In fact, this little gadget is great not only for any headphones, but also speakers, car stereo (with AUX jack), and even for a PA system at say, an event/party when you don't feel like running all the way to the mixer to change your music playlist.

One last piece of back story... I've been trying to build some other bluetooth devices using Arduinos, but when it got to figuring out all the details required to incorporate rechargeable batteries, I felt a bit overwhelmed with all the options, lingo about boosters, LDOs, safety requirements to prevent explosion, etc. So this was a nice way to simplify a slice of what I've learned into a real application. If you find yourself in a similar position, I hope this tutorial can provide as a small stepping stone.

This project is great for anyone who…

  • … wants to convert their audio devices to bluetooth, but is on a budget
  • … wants to learn more about electronics
  • … wants to learn the basics of wiring rechargeable batteries
  • … wants to learn from my mistakes first!
  • … is into Altoids tin projects
  • … just think this idea is cool, and wants to try it out!

Let's get started!

Step 1: Setup

To build this little guy, I've structured this Instructable into 2 main categories:

  1. The Wiring
  2. The Enclosure

Heads up -- I am going to write each section as thoroughly as possible, as if for an audience of n00bs (like me!)... but definitely feel free to skip around based on your experience / goals!

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Also, I always encourage prototyping first, especially before jumping right into soldering and drilling holes!

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Lastly, if you are an audiophile like me, you are probably wondering about the audio quality of this thing. Well, for just a couple bucks, it's surprisingly decent! I mean, if you are using super high def mixing headphones (which I tried out), I heard a slight difference in quality... for me, I'd say about the same difference as listening to a WAV vs mp3 file. For the average listener and for average use, this device totally works.

I will include more details regarding the audio decoder specs, as well as battery, and charger tech details in the Appendix at the bottom.

Step 2: Stuff You Need

All the materials/tools you really need for this project are thankfully not terribly hard to find, and low-cost! I also included optional (but recommended) items that will make your life easier, and probably good to have around anyways if you are doing more of these types of projects.

I actually had all the components lying around already (mostly from other broken electronics), but I tried my best to find equivalent links for y'all. Gold Star if you can repurpose your materials as well! ⭐⭐⭐

Supplies

TOOLS

Step 3: The Wiring

I'm starting off with the Wiring first because this will be pretty standard, whereas there may be some variations to the enclosure method depending on if you choose to use the Altoids Smalls tin or not.

For the circuitry, thankfully it's fairly simplistic. Still, I made my own basic visual diagram to make it easier to read than a hardcore schematic. Please take a look at it, as it provides a clearer map to the wiring strategy - better than I could do in writing. For seasoned solderers, maybe that is all you need and can skip to the next section!

Some Notes:

  1. The Actual Process will probably require some back and forth between soldering a bit at a time, and then fitting everything into the enclosure. This section is meant to serve more as an overview of the wiring, and you can use it for prototyping as well. In general:
  2. Solder the wires after determining where all the components are placed and prepped, and before you mount.
  3. [Sort of] Optional Wiring - The blue and black - - - - - dotted lines are so that you can use a single Micro USB port (the one on the audio decoder) for both powering the decoder during use, AND charging the battery simultaneously. It does require super careful soldering of the blue wire to the decoder's USB terminal that carries the 5V power... because that terminal is pretty much the size of a baby eyelash. However, I will add some tips below for that.
  4. Otherwise, if your soldering confidence is really not with you today, you do have the option of drilling two separate USB holes, or perhaps only using the one for charging (but will have to figure out placement for that). Either way, there didn't seem to be space for these options in the Altoids Smalls tin, so you would likely need a larger enclosure in this case.

Helpful Wiring Tips for Beginners:

  1. Positive & Ground Wires - always double check you've got the right wires running before you solder, and especially before you connecting the battery... there is no reverse polarity protection, which mean it could fry up your boards
  2. Add heat shrink when possible to cover exposed wire to prevent shortages. You can also add a dab of hot glue to cover the soldered terminals on the board
  3. If you're not that great at soldering, I would highly recommend using soldering flux, and generously. I just use a toothpick, wipe it along the wires/terminals, and the solder will flow towards it upon contact.
  4. On/Off Switch Orientation - by itself, there is no "correct" orientation for the switch. Meaning, after you wire the center leg, you can just pick a side leg to wire (doesn't matter Left or Right). When the latch is flipped to that side, that means it's On.
  5. Wire Length - To determine your ideal wire length, you will need to first define the placement of each component.
  6. If you're not sure, then err on the longer side, then cut the wire down as needed.
  7. I generally measured what is my minimum length (a straight line from one point to the other), then wrap the wire around my finger 2-3 times for extra length.
  8. The order in which I soldered was: audio decoder -> the on/off switch -> charger -> battery.
  9. Soldering to the Baby Eyelash-Sized USB Terminal (the blue dotted line in the diagram) - everyone's got a different method for soldering to really small contacts. Here's how I did it:
  10. Plug a USB cable into the audio decoder to power it up. Use a multimeter to double check you are soldering to the correct USB terminal (positive to the terminal, negative to any GND) - you should get 5V
  11. Unplug the USB cable
  12. Definitely use 30 AWG wire and soldering flux
  13. Wipe some flux with a toothpick on the terminal
  14. Strip a tiny bit (like 2-3mm) of the wire.
  15. Dip the bare end into the flux
  16. Add just a tiny bit of solder to the wire so it's tinned
  17. Place the tinned side of the wire to the terminal, careful that it's not touching other legs. Then apply your iron so the solder melts and connects the wire to the terminal. Use helping hands if necessary.
  18. Attach a wire to GND (usually black)
  19. Plug the USB back in, and check with your multimeter again for the voltage reading between the two wires.
  20. If you get 5V, then pat yourself on the back!

On to the enclosure!

Step 4: The Enclosure: Bottom of the Tin

Fitting everything into a tiny enclosure like the Altoids Smalls tin is a bit like Tetris. I will be describing specifically what I did for the tin, but feel free to adapt according to whatever case you use!

I decided I wanted the USB and Audio Jack to come out of the short side of the tin, kind of like an old school walkman or iPod Shuffle (remember those??). This added a few extra steps, but not bad. You could also use the longer side of the tin as well. Either way, once you decide where to place the audio encoder, everything else seems to fall into place.

  1. Audio Encoder
  2. Filing Away the Edges - As you can see in the first image, with placing the decoder along the short wall, you will need to file down the corners and front edge of the board for it to fit snugly.
  3. Be extra careful not to overshoot and file off the connectors! I ended up having to get extremely close though.
  4. When done, you can go ahead and solder the wires
  5. I lined the bottom of the tin with electrical tape, as a precaution to insulate the tin from the circuit.
  6. Place the decoder in position, and mark the locations of the audio jack and USB port with a thin permanent marker, inside the tin
  7. Drilling the Holes
  8. Audio Jack
  9. I found it worked well to push the pointy end of my round file from inside the tin to mark the center point of the hole.
  10. From the exterior, I was able to see the location, and push it back in from the outside to create a groove
  11. Using a 2mm drill bit, I made a pilot hole first in the center, then worked my way up to 5mm.
  12. It is important to drill from the outside in so that the fraying pushes inside
  13. Be careful with the frays, as they are quite sharp. Use the round file and/or pliers to break them off and smooth it out.
  14. If you have a small buffing tool, even better.
  15. USB port
  16. It's a good habit to check your markings each time after each previous hole is drilled, and adjust the markings if necessary. I learned the hard way, so I have a few extra mistake holes on the bottom of my tin. Whoops!
  17. Using the same techniques as above, I marked 3 center points across the span of the required hole
  18. From the outside, I drilled the 2mm pilots first, then expanded to a 3mm drill bit.
  19. Then with the files, I smoothed out the edges until the slot was straight(ish).
  20. Mounting
  21. You may be able to use super glue and call it a day.
  22. I decided I wanted to utilize the 2mm holes that are already on the board - one near the center, the other on the bottom corner.
  23. Align the decoder, and drill 2 holes, mounting it with M2 screws/nuts.
  24. On/Off Switch
  25. I placed the switch centered on the opposite short wall.
  26. Drill More Holes
  27. Pretty much the same method. The hole for the latch was similar to the USB hole - also using a 3mm drill bit in the end.
  28. Also be careful not to overshoot on the width so you can then also drill 2mm holes for mounting
  29. Mounting
  30. Use M2 screws/nuts for mounting
  31. My latch happened to be extra long, so I also used M2*4mm standoffs to create some spacing. You probably won't have this issue, but if needed you can easily use extra nuts/washers instead.
  32. Detailing (Optional)
  33. It's always good practice to seal the soldered joints to prevent electrical shorts. Use heat shrink when possible, or a small dab of hot glue will do the trick (not to thick!)
  34. To seal the gaps in my holes, I added itty bitty pieces of the foam insulation - so small I needed tweezers. You could probably fill them with other material like bits of rubber or electrical tape... or not.

Ok, we are almost there!

Step 5: The Enclosure: Top of the Tin

What's under the hood, you ask? The battery and charging module!

  1. TP4056 Charging Module
  2. You can go ahead and wire this puppy up to the decoder and switch (turned OFF) if you haven't already
  3. I used helping hands to hold it while I soldered
  4. Battery
  5. Cut the wires to ~3-4cm long.
  6. Solder the positive (red) and negative (black) wires to the corresponding terminals on the charger
  7. Double check you solder to the correct terminals! Otherwise you risk frying the thing.
  8. Mounting
  9. Using double-sided mounting tape for:
  10. Attaching the charger to the battery (centered)
  11. Attaching the battery to the lid (centered)
  12. Make sure there is enough of a margin around the battery for the lid to close
  13. Detailing (Optional)
  14. Again, probably a good idea to seal the soldered joints on the charging module with a small dab of hot glue.
  15. I was lazy and just folded a piece of electrical tape upon itself (sticky side in), laid it over the charger like a mini blanket, and then used another piece of tape to strap it into the lid.
  16. This method is not recommended as it also covers the LED indicator lights, and will certainly raise eyebrows with TSA if they were to ever come across it... (see image) 🧐
  17. Turn it ON
  18. If it lights up, you are GOLDEN.
  19. Pair the Minty Tunes to your device
  20. Get out of here and play some music!!

Step 6: Final Thoughts

If you made it all the way to this point... CONGRATULATIONS TO YOU!! 🎉🎊

You deserve to take your newly-made Minty Tunes out for a spin, like these rad ladies! ☝️☝️

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Wow - it took me longer to write this Instructable as it did to make the device! 🤓

So if you enjoyed this Instructable or learned from it, would love to have you follow me on the socials:

FB: @dolcewangmusic

IG: @dolcewang

My YouTube DIY stuff (mostly music-related)

Until next time!! ✌️

Step 7: APPENDIX

For extra resources and learning, here's some more nerd info on:

  1. Audio Decoder
  2. LiPo Batteries
  3. TP4056 Charger Module

AUDIO DECODER

  1. Observations:
  2. For the record, I am not a spokesperson by any means for any of the materials in this project. Below I will share some of my observaysh over time.
  3. Range Test:
  4. So far I've placed my phone in a closet with the door half-open, rounded a corner and walked about 30 ft away - signal was still fine! When I rounded another corner to another room, I started to get drop-off.
  5. I did the same with the door totally closed, and the signal started to get funky more like 15 ft away.
  6. I also went up to the 2nd floor while my phone was still downstairs, I started losing signal when I was directly above my phone (still on the 1st floor). But this is to be expected from bluetooth devices.
  7. Okay, then I went to a public venue (lots of cross-frequences) and hooked Minty Tunes to a PA - started off fine, and then walked ~50 ft away... which is just beyond the product spec range (15m). Started to experience some drop off there... so it seems the spec is verified! (You never know...)
  8. Interference Test:
  9. With using tin as the enclosure material, I wasn't sure what to expect. So far, I haven't run into any problems with power or signal, even with my sparse insulation using electrical tape and foam.
  10. I've also used it while on the subway, paired to my phone (within a few feet), where there is plenty of cross-frequencies and weird signals... Minty Tunes continues to play on.
  11. I even tried putting the entire tin inside another ABS enclosure like a babushka doll while playing music... signal was still good!
  12. Battery Test:
  13. It's not written on the specs, but by measuring, it seems that the device runs on ~35mA when playing music and ~15mA when not used but still connected via bluetooth. This helps you figure out how long your battery will last. i.e. A 400mAh battery will last ~11.4 hrs of continuous playback.
  14. The decoder is spec'ed out to use Bluetooth 4.1, aka BLE, which means it should automatically go to sleep when not in use, which helps to save quite a bit on battery usage over time. I have not tested this out myself yet.
  15. The decoder I got plays an old-school-AOL-you've-got-mail-sounding notification when turned on, and another when paired.
  16. First off, the sound quality of this notification is terrible...but don't be alarmed, the music quality played sounds fine.
  17. Secondly, I saw on YouTube that others have an accented voice saying "Bluetooth is Connected," which they found rather annoying. Just a fair warning - not sure which version you will get!
  18. I didn't utilize the L/R/GND terminals on the board -- it seems that you could potentially add small stereo speakers as well, or a connection cable... just some ideas!
  19. Specs (Copy/Pasted):
  20. General
  21. Power Supply 3.7-5V
  22. SNR 90dB
  23. THD+N -70dB
  24. Crosstalk -86dB
  25. DNR 91dB
  26. Support Profile A2DP/AVCTP/AVDTP/AVRCP/HFP
  27. LOS >15m
  28. Interface details
  29. USB powered Universal Micro USB 5V power supply
  30. 3.7-5V Supply Pad External 3.7-5V lithium battery power conversion
  31. LED indicator Bluetooth blue light
  32. 3.5mm stereo audio interface Standard 3.5mm interface, output stereo sound source, plug in headphones, connect amplifiers and other devices

LiPo BATTERIES

  1. Why did I choose a LiPo Battery for this project?
  2. The 3.7v is a perfectly efficient battery to power the board
  3. The size and form factor
  4. LiPos are generally safer than Li-ion batteries
  5. For further learning on the basics of batteries
  6. I found this Sparkfun article extremely helpful for getting started
  7. This dude made an educational video comparing different types of batteries

TP4056 CHARGER MODULE

  1. I decided to use this particular module because of its size, it seems widely used/tested out, it includes overcharge protection, and inexpensive.
  2. I've included a an image of the pinout diagram, taken from this site if you are curious.

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Cheers!

Audio Challenge

Second Prize in the
Audio Challenge

1 Person Made This Project!

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12 Comments

0
PhantomFreak
PhantomFreak

6 days ago

So, the Altoids tin probably reduces the bluetooth range. And if you add the wires you suggest for charging, it'll probably create a ground loop and an associated humming noise. Try only connecting the positive for the charging cuircuit instead!

Also, I've always wondered at the point of having a pair of wired headphones plugged into a Bluetooth receiver when you could have just plugged them into phone. But I suppose you need it when using Apple / Samsung / Google devices when charging unless you have a Y cable (as they seem to feel the need to not have a headphone socket anymore)!

0
dolcewang
dolcewang

Reply 6 days ago

Hi PhantomFreak, Thanks for your feedback and although I haven't heard any humming, will keep that in mind! I have also listed some observations in the Appendix section in regards to range and other tests, if you feel like checking out.

Haha, yes my iPhone doesn't have a headphone socket and I lost the adapter! The Intro explains that and other reasons for making this, plus the versatile usage (not just for headphones), but I'll admit... I mostly wanted to do this for fun! :)

Something unexpected I also found through using Minty Tunes is that because I'm oftentimes pulling out my phone and putting it back, I'm always caught in a spidery tangle, or accidentally pulling the plug out with wired headphones connected to my phone... extra annoying in a crowd (like the subway, which I commute on regularly)! Plus, adding the adapter gets super awkward. So plugging it into a tiny tin and leaving it in place, tangle-free, has been a surprising bonus.

Cheers!

0
The_NooB
The_NooB

9 days ago

Nice project! I made a similar bluetooth receiver a while ago in exactly same way: LiPo battery+TP4056+premade receiver board. The only thing different is the receiver board I'm using, and I added an extra port for microphone since my board support it. The audio quality wasn't that great though. By the way, how much does the metal enclosure affect the wireless transmission, if any? In my version, even the battery affect the transmission, in a way that the side where the battery is facing has significantly less range than another side.

0
dolcewang
dolcewang

Reply 9 days ago

Hi The_NooB! Love your username btw. That's awesome and thanks for sharing. Interesting that even the battery is blocking your transmission.
I had exactly your question before building this thing in regards to the interference of the tin, but so far it seems rather negligible, nor have I heard any weird radio stations either.
Although Tin isn't really used for wire/antenna material (~6x less conductive than copper... found from this fab chart of conductive materials), it still has conductive properties nonetheless... so I had thought maybe I could wire the antenna on the board to the tin itself (while keeping the electrical circuit isolated)... and then maybe the whole enclosure would also serve as an antenna! :)
Otherwise, I have a small antenna from an old XBee that I could use for more intended use -- what material is your enclosure made of? If you don't mind a tiny antenna, maybe that would help with the transmission on yours.
Cheers!

0
The_NooB
The_NooB

Reply 8 days ago

Haha, don't know how I came up with the username. By significantly less range I mean it is a few metres less than other side, and occasional dropouts when I point the wrong side to my devices. But it doesn't really bother me that much actually. Good to know that the the metal enclosure have negligible effect on transmission for your version. Regarding the external antenna, I thought about soldering a wire to the PCB trace, but gave up after realising the antenna trace is probably carefully tuned for it's purpose, and adding such wire might make things worse. Oh yeah the enclosure, as usual, is made of mounting board (if you checked my instructables you know :) )

0
dolcewang
dolcewang

Reply 8 days ago

Cool! I did check out your page! I didn't see the audio player one though. However, I did enjoy your Rubix cube logo one! :D

0
The_NooB
The_NooB

Reply 6 days ago

Thanks for checking out my page! Yes I did not post that project, but what I am trying to convey is nearly all my projects are made using mounting board :).

0
dolcewang
dolcewang

Reply 6 days ago

Haha I must agree, mounting board can do wonders!
By the way, I also added some more observations/tests regarding the behavior of Minty Tunes in the Appendix (and will continue to do so)... so thanks again for your initial comment as it gave me the motivation to expand the list in case peeps get curious!

0
Jimichan
Jimichan

Reply 7 days ago

I had exactly the same question and was already planning how to make a small wooden box.

0
dolcewang
dolcewang

Reply 6 days ago

That's awesome - can't wait to see your project in the wooden form! I also added some more observations regarding the behavior of Minty Tunes in the Appendix (and will continue to do so).

0
dqqcm04
dqqcm04

Question 6 days ago

Hi, thanks for this tutorial. Is it possible to change volume on this BT boad?

0
dolcewang
dolcewang

Answer 6 days ago

Hi dqqcm04, The one I used doesn't have volume control, but I just did a quick Google search for you, and found this one that does! It looks like nearly the same type of board but with a volume adjust. Slightly bigger, and a couple bucks more, but hey!
https://www.diymore.cc/products/adjustable-volume-...