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..

 

Controls

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). 

DO THIS AT YOUR OWN RISK AND USE AN OLD COMPUTER JUST IN CASE !! - PLEASE ASK AN EXPERIENCED COMPUTER TECHNICIAN IF IN DOUBT ...

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 :-

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

The Cabinet Build

 

 

Jeremy slightly modified the plans for me to allow integration of the speaker woofer assy, but basically the plans were followed exactly. He spent a long time using the professional tools available to him and it was worth the time he spent on it. The joints were perfect and he used a CNC machine to make all the holes for the switches and woofer etc.

The Plans incorporated a CD drive to allow the transfer of MP3’s, but as I was using a wireless network this feature was removed, making the design easier.

 

 

The main problem encountered was the angles involved on the front sloping panels. I believe 9 and 18 degrees are used. Although we had the relevant tools, Jeremy had to be really careful to ensure a perfect match. Trying to find adequate speakers proved also to be difficult and eventually I settled on Logitech X230’s. They are very reasonable in cost (About £28 from Amazon) and sound fantastic. The only drawback was the fact that we had to mount the Satellite speakers on the top. This wasn’t ideal but I felt it was acceptable and made it easy to alter the volume.

 

 

Once built, it was time for me to take home and assemble all the electronics inside the case. The monitor was placed into the cabinet along with the speaker grille and power button and then I switched it on to test. All was fine apart from the left hand buttons, which were binding (The side screws had just nipped the switch’s outer casing’s and this was easily rectified with slightly shorter screws!!).

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Finishing

 

 

I contacted a local picture frame maker who made me a cardboard insert to frame the monitor for £2.50 and this was placed behind a sheet of perspex, followed by two black strips of black perspex to hold everything in place.

Although all joints were excellent, I ran cherry coloured silicon down all the joints using my finger just to fill in any hairline cracks, and as you can see from below it now looks seamless.

 

 

 

Conclusion

This project has been very enjoyable and the finished product is truly above my initial expectations. I wrote the software and although there are some excellent packages out there which show album art etc, I wanted an easy to use jukebox, which I feel has been achieved (Anybody can pick a song easily with no training - it’s that simple). My jukebox contains 1200 well known songs throughout the decades and there is something for everybody to enjoy. It has been on every night since we built it and the sound is awesome. I must admit that the speakers were slightly too bassy, but this was resolved with me stuffing a paper bag into the woofer intake tube !!

The wireless works fantastically. I have a mapped drive on my laptop pointing to the music folder on the jukebox. All I do is drop songs into this folder and reboot the jukebox. The software then picks up any changes automatically and re-indexes.

The jukebox software is written specifically for Windows so therefore I could use proper screen savers designed for Windows. I decided on the built in photo viewer screen saver of XP and placed my favourite family photos onto it.(Although I have pondered on photos of rock bands etc !!)

I think anyone who is skillful with their hands and has a knowledge of computers can build one of these.

I must say again that the Mameroom designs were fantastic and come highly recommended by me.

Finally I would like to deeply thank Jeremy, who through his skill and patience has produced an excellent cabinet which I am proud to have on my wall. We are now building a second one for him !! Thanks also to Rob, the head of our DT dept, who has turned a blind eye and also stayed behind after work to help. I owe him big time !! 

It’s been up a week now and everybody who plays with it wants one, although I’m not building another !!

I estimate the cost to have been about £250 in materials, which is not too bad. The main costs were the 15” lcd monitor and the buttons !!

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Other Cabinets

 

 

 

A simple cabinet made from Pine shelving purchased from B + Q - £25 in total.

Two shelves were used for the side panels and routed for the front panels to slide into. The rest of the wood came from a 3ft x 3ft square piece of pine. This made for a simple and slim looking cabinet.

I made this one for my brother in 2007.

 

 

Mr. Green from Rotherham built this cabinet and instead of removing the circuit board from a keyboard actually mounted the keyboard directly behind the push buttons.

The buttons actually push the keyboard inside the cabinet. 

I particularly like the cd’s around the screen which look really well reflecting the light around.

 

 

Matt Jones from Australia has done a cracking job of his cabinet conversion.

 

 

 Mick Green from Rotherham has built an excellent 2nd small wall mounted unit.

“It took me 3 days to complete and i used a track ball on the side for the controls”

“It Cost me £62 (excluding the speakers and pc which i already had)”

 

 

Links

Details on keyboard hacks

Suzo Arcade Buttons - UK Source For HappControls Buttons

MameRoom Designs Jukebox Plans

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jukebox 2007 Windows Software

Jukebox 2007 has been designed to be a simple program for playing MP3 files. It can be run entirely standalone therefore allowing it to run from a CD / DVD or USB memory key. 

Once installed the program and music folder can be copied to any USB device and run on any Windows Pc.

DOES NOT REQUIRE INSTALLING OR ADMINISTRATION RIGHTS TO RUN.

Ideal for the office party !!

 

NOTE - This software was designed for older versions of Windows and is no longer supported. Feel free to use it but note that there will no longer be any support available.

Try the free version and if it is suitable then contact me for a licence key. Thanks.

 

 

 

Download Version 2.9 Version

Download PDF Manual

 

 

 

 

Mike Dent, Chesterfield, Derbyshire, United Kingdom.
 @mikedent
mike@dentmail.co.uk
© 2017 Mike Dent Programs
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