How to Add Custom Ringtones to a Wireless Doorbell




About: My name is Jason Poel Smith. In my free time, I am an Inventor, Maker, Hacker, Tinker, and all around Mad Genius

Most doorbells just make a simple generic tone. But I thought that it would be fun to modify a door bell so that it has a customizable ringtone. That way you can set it to play music or custom greetings. You could make it to scream on Halloween and play carols at Christmas. So in this project, I am going to share with you how to add a simple recording module to a wireless doorbell.

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Step 1: Materials

Wireless Doorbell (and required batteries)
9V recording module (RadioShack Model: 276-1323)
9 volt battery

Wire strippers
Wire Cutters
Soldering Iron and Solder (optional)
Hot glue and hot glue gun (optional)

Step 2: Background: How the Wireless Doorbell Receiver Works

The circuit of the wireless receiver is divided into five main parts.

1. The Radio Receiver: This section filters and amplifies the incoming radio signal.
2. The Decoder Array: This array of jumpers is used to set either the device's tuning frequency or the security code on the IC chip. This helps to prevent it from interfering with other nearby wireless devices.
3. The IC Chip: The IC Chip monitors the incoming signal and detects when the button on the transmitter has been pressed. When the signal is detected, it sends a tone to the speaker.
4. The Volume Control: This is a simple transistor amplifier that uses a variable resistor to set the speaker volume.
5. The Speaker: The speaker is a plain 0.25W speaker. It is wired between the positive supply voltage and the volume control transistor.

Step 3: Background: How the Recording Module Works

This recording module can store sound clips up to 20 seconds long. The play function is activated when the play pin on the chip is set to the logical LOW state (in this case less than 4 volts). This is normally accomplished by pressing the play button which connects the pin to ground (0 volts). It can also be done with an external switch. A close inspection of the circuit board reveals that there are two open pinholes that are also connected to the play pin. By attaching one wire to ground and one wire to either of these pinholes, you can use a secondary circuit or switch to activate the recording module. In this project we will be using the output of the wireless receiver as the switch to initiate the play function.

Step 4: Remove the Original Speaker

The first step is to remove the original speaker. It will be replaced by the recording module which has its own speaker. Begin by removing any covers on the receiver so that the circuit board and the speaker are visible. Disconnect the speaker from the board by cutting the wires at the speaker terminals. Remove any screws or fasteners that may be holding the speaker in place. Then remove the speaker from the housing. The speaker may be held in place by glue. If it does not peel away easily, you may need to use a sharp knife to carefully cut the speaker free.

Step 5: Prepare the Wires on the Receiver

The only parts on the receiver that we will be modifying are the wires that went to the original speaker. First we need to determine the polarity of the speaker. Most speakers have their positive and negative terminals labeled. But if they are not labeled, you will need to determine this by examining how they are hooked up to the circuit board. In my receiver, one speaker wire is connected to the positive supply voltage (the red wire). I am calling this the positive speaker wire. The other speaker wire is connected to the volume control transistor. I am calling this the negative speaker wire.

Cut the positive speaker wire as close to the circuit board as possible. This leaves you with a loose piece of wire. Strip at least 1/2" of insulation off both ends. On the negative wire, strip off at least 1/2" of insulation from the free end.

Step 6: Connect the Receiver to the Recording Module

The positive speaker wire that we just separated is used to connect the negative terminal of the receiver battery pack to the negative terminal of the recording module battery. Take one end of the positive wire and insert it into the negative terminal of the 9 volt battery. Then attach the 9 volt battery connector for the recording module. This should pinch the wire and hold it in place. Then take the other end of the wire and wrap it tightly around the negative terminal of the receiver battery pack. Once you have everything mounted, the wires should stay in place. But if you want everything to be extra secure, you can tape them in place. I do not recommend trying to solder wires to a battery terminal. 

The negative speaker wire will be used to connect the receiver output transistor to the play pin on the recording module. One end of the wire is already connected to the output transistor. So we just need to connect the free end to one of the play pin holes that were mentioned in Step 2. You don't need to solder the wire to the recording module. You can make a good connection by just twisting the wires together around the board. To do this, Insert a few strands of the wire through one of the holes (the hole is probably too small to fit the whole wire). Then twist the strands of wire back together. As long as wires are tight, it should make a good connection and stay in place.

Step 7: Final Assembly

Then just insert all the parts into the housing and your customizable doorbell is complete. If you don't want the parts to be loose, you can fix them in place with hot glue or some other adhesive. To set the ringtone, just hold the microphone up to your computer speakers and press the record button as you play whatever sound file that you want to use. Then, whenever someone pressed the button on the transmitter, it will play your custom ringtone.

Design Notes:
The recording module that I used was not as loud as the original tone. So if you want to make it louder you can replace the speaker on the recording module or use it as the input to powered computer speakers.

Since the play button also functions as a stop button, the playback will be interrupted if someone presses the doorbell multiple times before the tone is finished. You can fix this by adding a capacitor between the recording module's ground and play pin. This will also help prevent stuttered playback that may happen with some wireless doorbells.

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    34 Discussions


    2 years ago

    What size capacitor should I use to fix the stutter and playback interruption? I ripped a random one out of a broken toy, and it's obviously way too big, because it takes like, 13 minutes to drain before it will play again. Also, I figured while I had "the doorbell of eternal flatulence" opened up again, I wanted to beef up the little speaker by adding in a sparkfun audio amplifier with an added 15k resistor to raise the gain by 20. I also switched out the crappy mic with an 1/8" audio jack so I can directly line in for recordings. I'll let you know how these additions worked out... but only if you tell me what freaking size capacitor I need.

    3 replies

    Just try to find a smaller capacitor. It doesn't need to be anything specific. Just find one that will work for you.


    So... Could you give me a ballpark range of capacitor sizes to use as a starting point? Also, I built a new enclosure for all this stuff because I now can't fit all this junk inside. It's a scale replica of my guitar amp. It looks really cool, especially the mesh on the front panel. A few of the new components I've added light up with led's when the circuit is activated, and I thought it would be cool to add some more around the ballast I fabricated to hold the new speaker. Where in the circuit can I sneak these in? I have two separate battery supplies inside, and plan to use the one not powering the speaker for the lights, so I don't steal precious power from my beefed up speaker. With these two final tweaks, I'll have this bad boy buttoned up, and I'll send some pictures of the finished product with info about the elements that I've added that aren't part of your original build. Thanks for answering back so quick.


    4 years ago

    Rather than use the supplied microphone to record the tone, can I attach a 1/8" aux cord to record the tone straight from my iPod/phone?

    7 replies
    DIY Hacks and How Tospickdr

    Reply 4 years ago

    Maybe. I don't know. I have never tried that before. If you try it let me know if it works.

    You are using a plug-in door bell. The system that I designed was for a battery powered door bell. So I can make no guarantees about how it should be set up. The only thing that I could suggest is that you might get it working by connecting the negative wire to the emitter of the speaker transistor. So you would have one wire connected to the collector and one wire connected to the emitter. But I make no promises. Proceed at your own risk.

    pickdrDIY Hacks and How Tos

    Reply 4 years ago

    I did it!! I ended up buying a battery powered unit. The sound quality is pretty bad. Is that due to the speaker that comes on the recorder or the chip itself? Would swapping out to a better/bigger speaker make a difference?

    Yeah. That is a pretty cheap speaker. Replacing it will improve the quality a little bit. But it will still be a mono wav file. So it won't ever have great clarity.

    pickdrDIY Hacks and How Tos

    Reply 4 years ago

    I did get it to work! but for whatever reason, sometimes when I hit tecord, it would tell my phone that the "war oh ones were diconnected." kind of a pain, but eventually timed it right to get the recording on there.

    The issue I'm having now, is where to connect the negative wire from the 9v battery. My doorbell plugs into the wall, so there are no batteries. I've zapped 2 recorders by piting that wire in the wrong place. here is a picture of the circuit board. Should the (-) 9v wire be connected to the Hot or Nutral wire?


    Reply 4 years ago

    edit: "earphones," not "war oh hones"


    4 years ago on Introduction

    Hi, I have a question about this. What 2 points on the circuit board would you jumper to make this doorbell ring manually? I do have the wireless doorbell button, but I need to find a way to "manually" jumper this circuit board and make the chime go off without the wireless button. I'm doing a different project that requires the chime to be triggered with a "closed" signal sent thru 2 wires directly to the circuit board, from one of my home automation devices (an I/O Linc). Basically all I need to do is find a way to manually jumper the board to make the chime to go off. Thanks in advance!

    1 reply

    Each board is a little different. Send me a close up picture of both sides of the board on the doorbell reciever.


    6 years ago on Introduction

    I love this idea, great instructable! I did have a quick question, I'm working on transforming my front door from what it is now to look like the blue phone box from Doctor Who. Something like this would be perfect so that I could record the TARDIS sound and have it play when someone rings the bell. My only question is, how could I go about doing that so it sounds loud and clear? Either way I'll try your instructable and let you know how it goes. Can't believe there aren't more customize-able ones out there. Thanks again!

    1 reply

    There are a few commercial version available but thet are a little more expensive,



    6 years ago on Introduction

    Congratulations on being a finalist in the DIY Audio Contest!! Good luck to you!