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[Mod]ern Portable Music Console (portaparty!)

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Preview of the final ‘New Hotness’ Portable Party Machine! 50,000 songs+

 

 

 

 

For something going on 40 years this cabinet looked like some variation on the ratty image pictured next and not the shiny bauble above. It was capable of playing one record at a time and storing a dozen or so albums. This is an illustrated tale of how it came to reunite me with my music collection and frustrate audiophiles.

(here is a newer version with the white top panel)

Like many of my favorite things, this was discarded in someone’s trash. The smart money might have been on leaving it there, but my wife Lori wanted it immediately, else I was going to be the item the trash.Getting it home, we soon realized that most of the components did not in fact work. Also, the box is not squared anymore, and furthermore there’s not a wal-mart in the land that sells glass for tube amplifiers. Not one!IMG_0285

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Test fit is promising, but it still looks like a dry turd!

So I quickly took it’s NF guts out, and tossed in some spare PC parts( of the back of my closet variety). Suddenly it’d play any lossy-compressed song we’d feed it, but our hunger was left wanting.This could be functional, cooler, far superior to the original version, but suiting the same purposes. With itunes and the “remote” app, volume, tracklists, and so on could even be controlled from our cell-phones…

It was starting to tie the room together, man!

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Build it out. Here she’s measuring to make sure a wooden VESA mount will work out.

My wife has become the voice of refinement in my house, which is to say, when we’re ready to burn the bridges, she’s there making sure we have enough matches and gasoline. Here she’s measuring to make sure a VESA mount will work out, but at this point Lori had already cleaned the wood and replaced the speaker grille fabric on the front. This took a near-total teardown of the original box, short of replacing the veneer, but allowed some much needed repairs.

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Here, her mounting rails for the fabricated top-plate and monitor are shown as the PC buildup begins again.

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This is the void we have to work with (and the new fabric).

Big gaping hole of potential. You could fit a dead body or 50,000 songs in there. We went with songs…this time… The goal being to keep everything looking mostly normal, but to have a machine that would play out a music mix anywhere we plugged it in, with no setup beyond that. This way we can take it to parties and it will DJ for the evening.

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Loaded up, and ready to roll.

So, like any case-mod-esque project, we have a PC. You see it In the rightmost void we fit the whole PC (RAID 2x36GB, 500GB filestore, bluetooth, wifi, PSU and,fans, bliky lights and the two high-frequency speakers. The woofer and it’s case/volume control are mounted in the leftmost void. The speakers have been replaced with a 3-piece component system for a PC with a standard 3.5mm Jack as line-in. It’s not anything worth writing to Audiophile magazine about, but it’s heads and shoulders above the NF tube amp and paper-cones I’m replacing and was probably 35$ brand new.  Not fancy, but for our lossy mp3′s we’re fine with it… we came to party, not pick out nuances.

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Lori’s Plexiglas Panels fom Ponoko.com even accommodate for the warped and off-square box. Lori had to special order hardware small/long enough to put it all together properly.

Once the main bits are all in place, it really needed something befitting of its new life as a ‘moddern’ digital device. My wife drew up and ordered two Plexiglas panels which stack to create a nice steeped effect. It also allowed us the freedom to incorporate a USB port (for phones/usb keys) and on/off power switch into the top panel.  For 30$ or so we can order other colors, etc.  Her panels were designed to make use of an apple keyboard and track-pad, both blue-tooth. There is a non-existent driver to run Apple Bluetooth devices on windows vista located deep in a compressed file on an OSX disk. We used that file to make them work on vista.

WIFI Antenna on the back.

In order to get WIfi Signal to be decent I had to run an external antenna.When closed, the new fabric and tiny antenna popping off of the back belie it’s conversion. I  think it looks good, and heck I’d put an antenna on my head if I wouldn’t pick at it all day.

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All in all the only item we paid for outright for this project were some new fabric, Plexiglas panels and a few $$$ worth of PC parts. The real benefit has been the ability to listen to our music without having to use our laptops or hooking up something to the TV. An ipod dock-speaker it is not, but they don’t make ipod big enough for our whole collection, and this thing matches our living room.

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another view

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The end.