Introduction: Build Your Own AirPlay Receiver for 40$
First of all, the device you build is not compareable to an original Apple AirPlay device. However, you can have a little project and do some simple stuff like soldering and wasting time.
The device will be powered with 5V (for simplicity I decided to take an USB wire and use a random USB charging station which is part of almost every smartphone) and use an 3.5mm audio socket for the signal.
For all those guys complaining „aw, I can use my raspberry pi for that. no problem.“, I have to say: I had very poor performance with the rasp and was looking for something faster/more reliable (and I simply didn't want to waste the potential of the pi by using it as an airplay server only).
And my impressions (until now) are good: everything is working - no problems, not that much delay, good sound quality, no pauses and so on.
I promise I will add some pictures in a couple of days ;)
Step 1: Everything You Need
This is what you need in advance:
- AirPlay module "USR-S12", available somerwhere between 17$-30$ (including a wifi antenna)
- 2x Molex Picoblade 3-pin housing + a couple of already crimped cables
- 3.5mm socket
- random USB cable
- to be fancy:
- a LED of your choice with the respective resistor
- some kind of housing to avoid damage by whatever happens
To do your work correctly:
- soldering station
- soldering tin
- shrinking hose or something simular to isolate all that stuff
Step 2: Getting Started
Depending on your skills and self confidence you may skip this first part, but I think it’s quite a good idea to test everything before creating the final version.
So what I did was putting the crimped cables into the 3-pin housings.
1. housing: Red - Black - White, representing audio-right, ground, audio-left
2. housing: Red - Black, representing +5V and ground (there’s a second ground-pin allocated at the module, but I don’t think it’s necessary to use it)
Note: If you’re having problems to get these picoblade housings (that was quite hard for me, too), you may decide to use the already soldered pins at the platine. Maybe this is an even better method of using this module, but I liked the idea of using these picoblade sockets.
Independent of your decision about how to connect your cables, you need to continue with soldering. For the power-supply I took a random USB cable. After cutting off the USB plug, I unisolated the cable. By searching for „usb connector setup“ I got some nice pictures of the different cables allocated in the USB cable.
By default, the red and black cable should be responsible for power. So you need to solder these cables to our second molex picoblade housing - or the correct pins of the module (+5V and GND).
After doing this, you may consider applying power to your module - just to check if its generally working. After a couple of seconds you should see a new WIFI-network and some status LEDs should be flashing and so on.
Now, grab your 3.5mm socket and solder the red, white and black cable to the pins. Make sure to know which pin is responsible for the left and right channel and for ground. Not using ground will give you horrible sound with a lot of interfering signal.
Plug the audio picoblade socket to the module and power it on again - check if you can chose an airplay speaker and try getting some sound out of your speakers. If everything is working, great!
If not, check your soldering work.
Don't panic - the second picture was just for testing. I used a housing of a card deck - so you can imagine how small this thing is ;)
Step 3: Making Things Perfectly Right
I made the experience of interfering signals by having not stabilized power outputs (e.g. the usb port of my home cinema). Using an iPad charging station, I had no problems and perfectly awesome sound.
However, the producers of the AirPlay module are aware of this problem and suggest putting two (2) capacitors (each 100 µF) parallel. It should be allocated directly in the power cable (+5V - red), before it's connected to the 3-pin socket.
After doing this, your sound should be great - no matter which USB port you're using. I didn't test it by myself, so I can just give you this as information.
Step 4: The Finish
After everything is working you may make some adjustments to the device by logging into the default wifi network and checking following address in your browser: 10.10.10.254.
You can change the SSID, chose a network to connect with and add WPA security (recommended since the device may act like an extender if it is connected to your home network).
Now get your housing, your LED (connected to a 5V and GND pin, make sure the + side of the led is correctly connected to the resistor and +5V) and make the best of it.
All in all, it’s a nice device (but I’m still a bit concerned about the temperature after using the device for a couple of hours).
I hope you had as much fun as I had while building it and can enjoy wireless music from all your Apple devices ;)
I think there are many possibilities - since the max. power consumption of it will be 480 mA - so there might be some interesting projects using batteries and make stuff outdoor ;)