by Steve Russell
Archos Remote . . . .44
Digital Project . . . . . 52
To find out the level
of difficulty for
each of these
projects, turn to
The scale is from
1-4, with four
the more difficult
projects. Just look
for the Fuzzballs in
the opening header.
You’ll also find
in each article on
any special tools
or skills you’ll
need to complete
A Great Use for a Small PIC
This project provides a wired remote
control for certain members of the
Archos family of hard disk-based
Jukebox MP3 players and recorders. Key
features of the design are:
• Low component count and cost.
• Simple construction.
• Compatible with a small enclosure.
• Runs off a single battery.
• Long battery life.
Although there are now many different
audio compression technologies available,
MP3 is, without dispute, the most widespread
and best supported of those used for moving
music around on the Internet and for carrying
it with you as you travel. Following on
the heels of small capacity (64-128 MB)
solid-state players that hold about an hour or
Figure 1. Tip and ring connections.
NUTS & VOLTS
two of music, there are now a number of hard
disk-based MP3 players and recorders
available, such as those offered by Archos
While not as robust as the solid-state
players — which have disk sizes up to 20 GB
— these devices can store the equivalent of
300 CDs in MP3 format — even more if you
are prepared to sacrifice sound quality for
greater compression. The good news is that
they are becoming more affordable as the
cost of disk storage continues its downward
trend. While most would agree that they lack
the elegance of products such as the Apple
iPod, the Archos players come with a much
more palatable price tag.
Price is not the only advantage that
Archos can claim over its rivals. Several of the
company’s products have attracted an active
open-source community that is developing
alternative software for them. This software,
called Rockbox ( http://rockbox.haxx.se), is
rapidly becoming superior to the standard
software. The Rockbox site also offers lots of
information about the Archos hardware and
ways in which to modify it, either directly or
via pointers to other websites. I’ve upgraded
my 20 GB Jukebox Recorder with a 40 GB
drive, thanks to information available there.
This is a relatively simple upgrade, but
there are more tricky ones to be found if
you like modifying your gadgets and feel
Looking through the mailing list hosted at
the Rockbox site, I found enough information
to be able to design and construct a wired
remote control for my recorder. Archos offers
a remote, but only as a component within a
complete travel kit that also includes a power
adapter, cassette adapter, and headphones —
all of which I already have. Building my own
remote seemed to be a much better option
than paying for things I didn’t need.