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Standard picture frame that plays a short piece of recorded music Answered

I'm looking to attach some sort of audio playback device to the backside of a standard wall-hanging picture frame. I have the audio as a 30-second MP3 file and ideally someone would be able to walk up to the frame and push a button / flip a switch and the audio would play once through some sort of speaker - quality doesn't have to be great. Pushing the button again would make it play again.

I've never built anything like this before and I'm not really sure where to start. My first guess was maybe to take apart a music greeting card, but there's no button to play with that.

Anyone have any ideas of what I could do? Thanks.


How did you get on?! I'm trying to do exactly the same thing! Would love to hear your input.


can you please tell me how you did that? i am also trying to make one and i would like to know how yours turned out! =]

Sure! It actually turned out very well. I had trouble tracking down inexpensive frames (with a matte) that would hold an old school postcard. I found these at IKEA: http://www.ikea.com/us/en/catalog/products/00132524/ and they work perfectly. As a bonus, they're quite thick with plenty of room for stuff on the back (see below).

Next I got this USB recording module: http://www.invitebyvoice.com/push-button-sound-module.html It was really easy to use their software and copy my 30-second MP3 to the device.

I then pulled apart all the pieces of the recording module and hot glued them onto the back of the frame, stringing the play button and wire up onto the top of the frame. It's so small you don't even notice it when it's on the wall.

One problem I ran into was that the sound was kind of muffled/quiet when it was against the wall since the speaker was in a "box" of the back of the frame. I got some little rubber feet from Bed, Bath and Beyond that pushed the whole frame away from the wall about half an inch and the sound got much louder - and the frame was more stable (didn't slide around on the wall) when the button is pushed.

One other theory I had, depending on your frame, would be to cut slits or arcs into the sides/top/bottom of the frame to let the sound out.

Hope that helps!

What you have described already exists. There are picture frames that one can buy and record a message for playback. They have been around for a few years now. However, I have not taken one apart to dissect its functions.

Perhaps if you look online they will tell you more about how they function.

You can start here at Amazon.com - They are called Talking Picture Frames.

I guess I should have been more specific:

I'm custom framing three vintage postcards and would like to discretely include the audio/button in or behind the frame.

Oh, sorry. There are recordable greeting cards. You could just purchase one (or more) and probably save money and time than trying to buy parts to make it. See Hallmark.

Even after recording the music into the card, any idea how I'd attach it to the frame and allow passers by when it's on the wall to play it?

You'd have to take the card apart and examine the set up. These cards are usually triggered to play when they are opened, so by looking at how the contacts are set up, you may be able to figure out a way of wiring a switch to the mechanism. Once you have a switch (or a button), you'll want to secure the mechanism to a hidden area (like the back), run the wires through the frame and mount the switch or button to the front. Then having a simple "press me" sticker would prompt passerby's to play the recording.

Thanks. I think I'll go get a card and see how this might go down. I'm a little unsure how to attach a switch or button to the card mechanism, but I might be able to find info on that elsewhere.

Actually, I found this: http://www.electronics123.com/s.nl/it.A/id.2841/.f?sc=8&category=2

It's fairly inexpensive, records audio directly over USB from my computer and already has the button/switch. It looks flat enough to mount on the back of the picture frame if I choose one carefully. It runs on watch batteries which can be replaced. The button wire is a little short, but probably enough to wrap around the side and mount on the edge of the frame.

I looked at the link, and if its inexpensive (as you said), then I would definitely go with that. The USB connection is a huge bonus as you'll get a way better audio recording that way, plus the unit already has the button. It looks like you've got about 4 inches (give or take) in wire length. I would mount the components on the back of the frame, and drill a hole through the frame and feed the button through that way. You'll want it to stay put when people press the button, but still be removable for whatever reason. Both the greeting cards, and this option run off watch batteries, but if the price is right, you'll save yourself a lot of hassle by going with this option. :)