Build A Jukebox

Here you will see photos and notes of my home made jukebox made during the summer of 2007.

I decided that I wanted a jukebox at home after I looked at my brother’s original Wurlitzer. It was fantastic and so easy to use, but, would only hold 100 singles. As I work in the IT industry I wondered how hard it would be to build something similar using Pc components to play mp3’s. Most people now store their music in this format, this must be the way forward, and there began many hours of browsing and programming !!

I first browsed the internet for jukebox designs and eventually found a site which had the ideal cabinet for me. Mameroom Designs is a US based company which do a great cabinet for $199. Unfortunately they don’t deliver outside the US however they do sell the plans in PDF format so that you can make your own at home. I purchased these plans and they are very good in terms of accuracy and detail. 

The plans are excellent and easy to follow if you are handy with woodworking tools. Fortunately for me I work at a school and our very helpful DT technician (Jeremy) was willing to help me. I therefore left him the plans whilst I concentrated on the electronics side of things..



To try to keep costs down, I decided to try to use a cheap old computer keyboard. If you strip a keyboard down and retrieve the circuit board you will see two distinct rows of keyboard contacts (About 15 on either side of mine, but they do vary). These contacts will need to be copper on a proper circuit board not carbon or thin copper film as found on some very cheap keyboards.

There is some info on the net about hacking keyboards - One good explanation is on my links page.

I then plugged this circuit board into an old, old computer and booted to a DOS disk. By bridging a contact on the left with ones on the right using a piece of wire I was able to map 12 keys easily. Just keep trying, noting down which ones produce keys on the screen (Some will do nothing because they are special characters eg - Alt etc). 


Once I had all the keys I required (12 max) I carefully soldered 4” thin wires (Cat 5 solid network cable was ideal) to each of the noted contacts on the circuit board. The other ends of the wires I screwed into cheap electrical connecting blocks. This would make it easier to connect my switches later.


The Buttons

I wanted the buttons to be good quality arcade style buttons as found on old arcade machines. Fortunately there are loads of people out there selling these. Ebay generally have a good range which are basically HappControls buttons with cherry switches. However I wanted triangular buttons to represent left and right and I found these to be available directly from Happcontrols (See Links Page). As I live in the UK, I found a company called Suzo in this country which supply Happcontrol buttons. I noted down the part numbers using the US Happcontrol web page and then phoned Suzo. I thought as this company deal with manufacturers in the arcade industry they wouldn’t be interested in me wanting to buy a few. I was wrong, the guy I spoke to was fantastic about me placing a small order. (Delivery took about 3 weeks as they were special order).

Although the buttons were expensive (About £45) they were well worth it. The switch panel was made from wood, and all that was left was to assemble it.




The Computer

I decided to use an Athlon 900 CPU and an old full size ATX motherboard with 512mb Ram. I decided on a lower spec computer as I wanted to keep costs down as well as the problem of economical running and heat problems. Ideally a motherboard with all on board components is better (With my board I had to modify some brackets to ensure Graphics card etc were secure) but I wanted the added security of being able to change a part if it became faulty in the future. Really all that was required was a computer that will run XP fairly quickly. It doesnt have to be the latest all singing and dancing I7 affair !! (Plus I had it stacked in a drawer doing nothing.)


I fixed the various components onto the pre-made back panel as shown below :-





Mike Dent, Chesterfield, Derbyshire, United Kingdom.
© 2017 Mike Dent Programs
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