In this instructable I am going to show you how to make your own little sweet talking box.
So what is a sweet talking box? This is a tiny box where all you can see is a headphone jack and a small button. When you connect a headset to the box and press the button a prerecorded message will play for your recipient.
This is a perfect gift idea to make for someone you care about and for someone you want to keep encouraged or reminded by your own words. There are unlimited options to make this gift even more personal by crafting your own box or enclosure!
The project is easy and you neither require a lot of experience or tools. The most challenging in this project is the soldering required.
If you like this idea press the vote button in the upper right corner to vote for me in the Home Made Gift Contest.
Step 1: Parts and Tools
You are going to need the following:
- 10 second voice recorder
- Like these for a couple of bucks
- Female headphone jack
- Male headphone jack
- Push button
- Screw driver
- Soldering iron
- Optional: 3D printer
Step 2: The Plan - What We're Doing
Here's what we're doing. We are going to disassemble the voice recorder module. Then we're going to remove the speaker and add a female audio jack, that way the message will be more personal and played directly to your gift recipients ears.
Then we're going to remove the built in speaker and add wires so we can record audio played from a PC.
The next step will be to remove all the buttons on the PCB and add or own push button to play the recording.
After this is done, we remove whatever is unnecessary on the board, before we assemble everything in a box. The box will just show a headphone jack along with a single button, inviting the gift recipient to insert a headset and press the play button.
Let's get to it!
Step 3: Disassembling the Voice Recorder
This step may wary according to the voice recorder you have. No worries, it's really straight forward!
In my case I had to first unscrew everything. Then I popped the whole thing open and carefully removed all the parts that were glued to the plastic casing.
At this point you have before you a PCB along with all the attached parts to make everything work.
We are interested in the speaker, microphone, battery, and function buttons.
Step 4: Battery
I chose to replace the battery with another. This was only to make everything fit more snugly together later, so it's not at all necessary.
The only important thing is to make sure the new batteries are about the same voltage as the one that gets replaced. Usually this is 3 V.
Step 5: Headphone Jack
Here we are removing the built in speaker and replacing it with a female audio jack.
Snip the speaker wires and take note on which wire is positive and which is ground.
Next, we need to wire the audio jack so it plays in mono. Otherwise the recorded message would only play though one ear, not both. Take a look at the second picture to see how I wired my 5 pin female audio jack to play in mono.
The pin that connects to the biggest part on a audio jack is always ground. The two smaller parts are Right and Left channel, these need to be wired together.
After the audio jack is wired in mono, we can solder it to where the speaker was connected on the PCB.
Step 6: Microphone Jack
Here we remove the microphone and replaces it with a couple of wires. These wires will let us attach a male audio jack, which we then can use to get audio from a computer or phone.
When you remove the microphone, as with the speaker, you need to take note of the polarity of the wires.
Step 7: Play Button
Here we start by removing the button to play the recorded message. The buttons on the board I had were push buttons made of springy metal foil. When the foil is pushed it makes contact between two points on the PCB. This makes it super easy to modify the board and add a new button!
First, solder two wires to your new push button. As can be seen in the first picture, the wires are soldered to the two button leads that sit diagonal to each other. The two unused button leads can be snipped away. Remember to make the leads as long as you need for assembly of the box.
Now remove the foil to show the button connection points. This is where we solder the two wires that come from the push button. The polarity on these wires does not matter, as the button is just going to close a circuit.
Step 8: Your Recording
Now it's time to make your own recording! Think of something you wan't the gift recipient to be reminded of. The idea behind this sweet talking box is to make a small reminder of some sweet words, that can be carried with you every day. Both the board I used and the board I linked in the parts list lets you record messages for up to 10 seconds, so chose your words!
I used the application audacity to record my message and play it to the circuit that goes into the box. You don't need a fancy program at all! You just need something that will let you record and playback a message with relatively clean audio quality.
When you have recorded your personal message, it is time to connect the microphone jack we have soldered to the PCB to your computer.
To record the message onto your circuit board you are going to need to hold the record button on your PCB for as long as you are playing your message from your computer.
Also, when you play the recording from your computer to your board, you should increase the volume on your computer to get a nice and strong audio recording.
Step 9: The Box
To make your own box enclosure you can be as creative as you want and really add a personal touch!
I chose to 3D print the box I was going to gift. This was a box I designed in Fusion 360. The design fits around my circuit and components, and it's designed with enough tolerances that the printed box should fit several different PCBs.
If you wan't to print your own box, you can find the STL files here.
Step 10: Removing the Unnecessary Parts and Securing Connections
This is a good time to check that everything works. Connect a headset to the female jack and press the playback button. If everything works, congratulations!
Here I removed whatever was unnecessary for the final playback module. This meant the recording buttons and the LED flashlight button, as long as the LED flashlight. I chose to keep the red LED which blinks during playback. You can also cut the wires that connects to the male audio jack which was used for recording your message.
Now it's time to secure all the connections to minimize the risk of something going wrong. To secure the connections and solder joints, apply hot glue to the metal connections. This will prevent wires from getting loose as well as preventing shorts.
Now it's time to put everything together!
Step 11: Assembly
Now we're so close to finished! Just need to assemble everything in a neat little package and we're done.
The very first thing I did was to glue a small piece of plastic filament to the push button to extend it. Then I started to glue everything into the box.
I started by gluing the push button, then the audio jack. After this the battery, all the wires, and the circuit board was pushed inside the box.
The last thing I did was to glue on the lid for the box. Use copious amounts of glue for everything, you don't want anything to come loose.
Regarding how to change the battery. I figured the battery will last for a very long time because the circuit draws very little current each time it is played, and it is not active all the time. However, there will most probably come a time when the battery needs to be changed. When this happens, I plan to use an xacto knife to pop open the lid. Then it's just a matter of soldering on a new battery and gluing the lid back on.
When everything is put together, pat yourself on the back, you're finished! You just made an awesome gift that will give your loved one constant words of affection for years to come.