If you have ever found yourself with an old PC computer that you no longer have any use for then before you decide to throw it on the scrap heap or give it away to someone you may want to consider putting it to some good use for yourself in one of many ways.
One of the best and coolest things you can do with an old PC is to turn it into your very own MP3 jukebox. You may well be sat there thinking that there is no need to build your very own MP3 jukebox since you have a portable MP3 player or and iPod. While this is true and fair assumption to make you might want to take a moment to remember those really cool old fashioned jukeboxes that your local bar or diner used to have. Wouldn’t it be really cool to actually own a jukebox like that?
Just take a quick look at some of the amazing designs for DIY MP3 jukeboxes that you could choose.
The whole process of building your own DIY MP3 jukebox from and old computer is actually a very simple one which requires very little in the way of specialist knowledge. The hardest part about using an old computer to build your own MP3 jukebox is the designing and building the case or unit for it. This case which you build really is down to personal preference so we will leave this little bit of creativity firmly in your hands. Hopefully the above photos will provide you with a little inspiration to help you decide what you would like your MP3 jukebox to look like. The unit for your MP3 jukebox is the first thing that you must design and build so once you have that built you can move onto converting your old PC computer into the core of your own MP3 jukebox.
Preparing The Hardware.
If you wish to take the most basic of approaches to building your own MP3 player then it is an option for you to simply take the old computer that you are using for this project and sticking it into the case that you have built for your MP3 jukebox. Once it is in there you can easily hook it up to the controlling devices and speakers that we will go into later.
If you want to do a professional job on building your own MP3 player then you really are going to want to strip the original casing from your old computer. This is pretty easy to do and usually involves unfastening only a few screws at the rear of the computer unit and then the case will slide off revealing the internal components of the computer in its metal chassis. Always make sure that the computer is disconnected from the power supply while working inside the computer.
The bare chassis and the inside of the computer should look a little like the photo below.
Now that you have access to the internals of your old computer you can go about any hardware upgrades you might wish to do. Since you are building an MP3 jukebox you might well feel that you want to upgrade the computers soundcard so you get the best possible sound quality from it. Installing a soundcard is nothing to be scared off and pretty straight forward. In 9 out of 10 cases all you need to do is slide a small circuit board into a specially designed slot in your computer. Soundcards are pretty big so don’t be worried about things such as small parts.
Soundcards range in price greatly so it may pay you to do some research before purchasing one. Remember that upgrading the soundcard is not something that you HAVE to do and is purely optional. If you should choose not to upgrade your soundcard then your speakers easily plug into the computers existing audio out socket. It is actually fair to say that only those audiophiles out there would notice a difference from upgrading a sound card.
Another component you may wish to upgrade in your old computer is the hard drive. The decision to upgrade your hard drive is down to how many MP3’s you are going to want to store on your MP3 jukebox. A 100 gigabyte hard drive will hold around 20,000 MP3’s so bare that in mind when deciding to upgrade your hard drive or not. That is around 2000 complete albums.
One thing you will want to do now you have access to the internal workings of your computer is remove the CD-ROM or DVD-ROM drive from the chassis. The reason you are doing this is so you can then install the CD-ROM or DVD-ROM drive in a place within your jukebox unit so you can easily pop in a compact disc that you wish to upload onto your MP3 jukebox. The DVD-ROM or CD-ROM drives are connected to the computer by a flat lead that is long enough to stretch to wherever you wish to mount the drive in your unit. You can also (if your old computer has one) remove the USB port from the computer chassis so that can also be mounted for easy access allowing you to transfer MP3’s from a USB pen or USB hard drive.
Once you have decided which components you are going to upgrade, if any, and managed to get the CD-ROM drives mounted into your jukebox unit you can then fix the computer chassis into your jukebox unit as well. At this point you can also remove the computers power transformer from the chassis and fix it in a convenient place within your jukebox case. Obviously most people position it on the rear of the jukebox in order to keep all the power leads out of view.
The MP3 Jukebox Software.
One thing you are going to need when it comes to your MP3 jukebox is the software that will drive the jukebox. There are a lot of options available and many of them are actually free, working on the LINUX platform.
One of the best bits of MP3 jukebox software that I have come across in recent years is Nordbeat. Nordbeat really is a quality bit of software which offers a fantastic host of features including playlists and the ability to rip CD’s straight to your hard drive. If you are looking for software that is tried and tested and is free of bugs and works well then check out Nordbeat at www.nordbeat.com
MP3 Jukebox Control.
Now that you have your MP3 jukebox near to completion and the software installed you are going to need to decide how you are going to control the unit. If you are keeping things really simple then it is possible that you simply attach a monitor and a mouse and away you go. If you have come this far though I am guessing you would want your MP3 jukebox to be a little classier.
Your best option when it comes to controlling your MP3 jukebox, in my honest opinion, is to use a touchscreen monitor. Touchscreen monitors are pretty cheap nowadays and are getting cheaper all of the time and really would provide a high tech geeky way to control your MP3 jukebox.
Connecting The Speakers.
The last thing to do on your MP3 jukebox is to attach your speakers. If you have built the casing so it looks like vintage jukebox then you may have built the speakers into the case itself. The other option is that you are using external speakers which probably mean that your MP3 jukebox needs to be attached to an amplifier and then the amplifier needs to be attached to the speakers.
Please feel free to send us your photos of your own home made MP3 jukeboxes and we will post them right here so you can show them off. Our email addresses can be found on the contact page.