Make a Zune AC Adapter




Introduction: Make a Zune AC Adapter

Here's a quick and simple way to make a Zune AC Adapter without buying the actual one from Microsoft. Basically, you manipulate an existing 5 Volt AC Adapter to support a USB plug. It's important to find the right AC Adapter and to wire it to the right pinouts in a USB plug. I'll cover all of that.

What's great about this is that it's actually a universal USB charger since it's equivalent to existing USB ports. If your MP3 player requires a USB cable to charge the battery, then this will certainly work with it.

Step 1: Note: Not Compatible With 2nd Gen Zunes

I recently found out that this only works with the First Generation Zunes, like the Fat 30gb and Fat 80gb Zunes.

Do not attempt to try this with the 2nd Gen slim model Zunes (4gb, 8gb, 30gb, 80gb 120 gb slim zunes).

I found out that Microsoft designed the 2nd Gen Zunes to be incompatible with the third-party AC Adapters. Even the Official AC Adapters that were designed for the 1st Gen Zunes are incompatible with the 2nd Gen Zunes.

Step 2: Tools

You need some really basic tools for this project but nothing real fancy or expensive.

Soldering Iron
Wire Cutter
Wire Stripper

You can easily find all this stuff at Radioshack.

The materials you need for modifying are:
One 5 Volt AC Adapter
One USB input plug (a.k.a female USB)

You can acquire the USB plug from an old USB extension cable you don't use. I pulled mine off of a dead MP3 player. Find the Pinouts and make sure you know what each of the four pins actions are. I included a Pinout diagram with this Instructable. Your USB cable should have pins sticking out the back where you will solder it to the AC Adapter plug.

Step 3: Finding the Right AC Adapter

You are going to need an AC Adapter that has an output rating of about 5 Volts, and at the most 1.0 Amps.

The reason for this is that we need it to be equivalent to the USB port of a computer since that's how a lot of these MP3 players are charged. Standard USB ports have a rating of 5 Volts and 0.5 Amps (500 milliAmps). I know most computers and even the Xbox 360 follows these standards. The Playstation 2 also has USB ports rated at 5 Volts but I think it's current is a lot lower. The rate of the current can vary for some MP3 players, I'm not entirely sure if all of them can withstand 1.0 Amps of current. So your best bet is to find an AC Adapter at that's rated at 0.5 Amps. However, I am positive that the Zune can use a current of 1.0 Amps, it actually charges faster too.

The 5 Volt AC Adapter I used was actually for an old cellphone. I heard that you can find some AC Adapters at Radioshack but you can also check eBay and other sites.

To clarify, find an AC Adapter that's 5 volts and 0.5 Amps (500 milliamps). The Zune can handle a 1.0 Amp current, but if you are not sure what your MP3 is rated at, don't exceed 0.5 Amps.

Step 4: Connecting the AC Adapter to the USB Plug

First, make sure the AC Adapter is NOT PLUGGED IN ! ! !

Second, use you wire cutter and clip off the male plug at the end. Don't try to modify the end with the huge black box (transformer) that connects to the wall outlet. Then strip off the black insulation to expose the red and black wires on the inside.

Before you solder those wires to your USB plug, make sure you know the Pinouts. If you hold the USB so the pins are on the bottom, then the pin on the far right will be the Positive. The pin on the far left will be the negative. You won't need the two pins in the middle since those are for data. Refer to the Pinout picture attached to this Instructable for more info.

Solder the red wire to the Positive pin in the USB, then solder the black wire to the Negative pin. That's all you really need to do but it is highly recommended to insulate any exposed wiring with a heat sink or electrical tape. I didn't do that in any of my pics so anyone who reads this can clearly see what the wiring should look like.

Step 5: All Done !

If you followed everything right, you should be able to connect your MP3 player to this using it's USB charging cable. Since this is equivalent to standard Computer USB ports, it should be compatible with MP3 players that use a US to charge.

For me, I just saved $50 by not buying the Zune AC Adapter from Microsoft, and you can too.

BTW, this is my first Instructable so if you have any tips or questions, just PM me or email me at


Step 6: Warning !

It is extremely important to find an AC Adapter that matches the specifications of you MP3 player. If you plan to make a charging cable with another MP3 player, make sure you know the Voltage and Current Rating of your player. Voltage needs to be 5 Volts if it charges with USB. Current can vary with different MP3 players and if you find an AC Adapter that uses too high of a current, it can fry your player or battery.

The Zune Voltage/Current rating is 5 Volts, 1.4 Amps. So any AC Adapter that has a voltage of 5 volts, and a current less than 1.4 Amps should work. If you use one with a Current higher than 1.4 Amps you risk frying your Zune. I have confirmed that an AC Adapter that's rated at 5 Volts, 1.0 Amps works well without any problems on the Zune.

Note: If you plan to make an Adapter for a different MP3 player, you can usually find the Voltage/Current Rating either on the box package or on the player itself. You can also Google it.

Be careful.



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    24 Discussions

    Really this is a USB changer. You still need the original Zune docking/charging cable.

    I just recently resurrected my old 30GB .. it had been drained for close to 5 months.. Not taking chances, I put the sync/charge cable into one of the USB ports of my laptop.. By morning, fully charged!

    Agreed! Though, I've had the device work with as high as a 7V 2-Amp USB charger designed for a Kodak camera. (came with a Easyshare M341 camera).

    Most USB chargers are supposed to be regulated to 5V, and I've run into a few that are down as low as 3.4V (so much for 3.3V). Those will barely light power anything short of a 2x AAA powered camera (if your lucky).. As the 1st page of this instructable shows, Measure from the red & black wires, (the two outer contacts of a USB-A...

    The tip about current is not correct. A current rating on an adapter refers to the maximum current that can be drawn. The device determines how much current is actually drawn.

    I don't think 2nd gen Zunes can't use 3rd party adapters. I have a USB power adapter which I use with iPods AND a 2nd gen Zune all the time. It works perfectly fine. Of course I'm not going to buy an overpriced adapter from Microsoft or Apple. I bought a generic adapter, but this would be much cheaper, if only I'd discovered it sooner! I likely even have the parts lying around.

    I htink that the key to the battery destruction problem is voltage regulation ... if a charging device is rated at 5v @ 10 A, the voltage may be higher at a significantly lower load ... may require something approaching that rated current load to be @ 5v. I suspect that as long as your power supply is rated at the same current as the charger for the device you're charging, you should be OK. Might be good to measure voltage at the expected load before hooking up a valued device.

    I wish i would have seen this 2 yrs ago before i payed 30 bucks for an official adapter but it suist my needs ive got a first gen fat 30 for only $100 of course that was before the 2nd gen came out

    I did this for my sansa, and it FRIED THE BATTERY..... My sansa could no longer hold a charge for more than a day, which isnt that bad, but if i charged it before i went to bed, I wouldn't have any charge in the morning, and before someone complains to me about something here are the specs of the charger charger for an LG VX series phone. 5v 1000 amps DC I dont know why this happened, any ideas, I havent read all the posts yet either.

    5 replies

    1000 Amps?! Are you sure? That is way too high. Unless it was 1000 milliAmps which is equal to 1 Amp. Check on the sansa for some kind of Amp rating. If it charges on a USB it should be around 500 milliAmps (0.5 Amps) unless the Sansa says something different. Sorry about your battery.

    o sorry, it is 100milliAmps, and the charger is different but, in theory it should work. Amps are pulled out by the circut and volts are pushed. clearly my theory is wrong though.

    I know that if the Amps is too high you can fry some components. Is the battery the only thing that's broken? And what kind of Sansa is it? Try to check the amp/volt rating for your sansa. If it's lower than 1 Amp then that's why your battery fried.

    Amps are drawn, Volts are forced. You can have more amps, but NEVER more volts. You can have a 5V@20A power supply charging your device and it won't blow up.

    I would think the amperage the sansa takes has to be lower lower, because it charges on usb, but I didn't know how the batteries worked, until i researched it when I broke my sansa, and now I see why. My last comment didn't make any sense either, sorry. I was trying to say that the amperage was different then usb, but that doesn't matter because amperage is pulled out by the circut, and it won't pull more than it needs, but that isn't true in the case of batteries... I am in contact with Sandisk trying to get it replaced...

    FYI It's 10 dollars at radioshack. But awesome job, I should try this, sometimes it's good when you don't have a computer handy.

    1 reply

    After I made this, I found out you could find similar AC adapters for the Zune for maybe $2 on the internet.

    good idea. high current is not a problem, voltage is very important. the device will only pull the current it needs, so 5v 1A should also work.

    Not if they use a Zune and follow the instructions. I think the greater danger is if they don't cover any exposed wiring.