TuneSash Pre-flight

Today I will be making the TuneSash.  It’s a sash that contains an audio ampllifier, a speaker, an input jack, and possibly some sort of pocket for holding an audio player.

My initial intention was to make the TuneSash as generic as possible…meaning any audio player can be used.  But since this is a one-off project, I figured I should make it with one particular audio player I own…an iPhone 3G.  This means that I will attempt to incorporate iphone-specific controls as well as a holder for the unit itself.  My backup plan is to just assume that an iPod Shuffle will be used in conjunction with the TuneSash.  Since the iPod Shuffle has a built-in clip, it could prove to be the easiest player to work with.

In terms of electronics, there are two possible directions I can go with the TuneSash:

  1. Build an audio amp out of an LM386 chip and perfboard.  I would use a 9V battery as the power source. This method has several drawbacks:
    • Requires soldering a circuit to a perfboard
    • Produces pretty awful quality audio
    • Will chew through 9V batteries.
  2. Hack an existing iPod speaker device and incorporate the components into the TuneSash.  I have an iHome iH85 speaker system for bikes and ipods (http://www.ihomeaudio.com/products.asp?product_id=10186).  It’s very nice, but is difficult to hear from the position it’s to be installed on a bike, and also doesn’t hold an iPhone.  So, I can take it apart and use the components in TuneSash.  There are a couple of drawbacks to this as well:
    • Destroy an expensive piece of electronics
    • Does not have a 2mm audio jack, so it will be limited to iPhones/iPods with dock connectors..thus forcing me to create a pocket for storing the iPhone on the tunesash (and forget about the ipod shuffle).
    • Takes four AA batteries, and requires the iPhone to also be held within the TuneSash, which means it will be heavier.

I’ve decided to go with the second option, if possible.  The audio quality from the speaker is phenomenal, and its four AA batteries seem to last quite a long time.  It also has a wireless remote, which will make it very nice when used in conjunction with a bike.

I’m going to start by dismantling the iHome device to determine how usable it is.  If the parts separate cleanly, and are small enough, I’ll definitely proceed.  Wish me luck!

July 28th, 2008

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