Converting a Fisher-Price tape player into a Bluetooth speaker

Maker transforms his ‘80s Fisher-Price cassette player into a Bluetooth-enabled device with the help of Arduino.

If you grew up in the ‘80s, it’s likely that you were the proud owner of a Fisher-Price cassette player. While for most folks, these popular toys are merely a distant memory. But for Matt Gruskihe, it was a chance to bring his childhood accessory into the modern-day era. To accomplish this, the Maker decided to transform the retro device into a Bluetooth media system that he could remotely control from his smartphone.


Bringing this idea to life required some new mechanical and electronic components, along with a few 3D-printed parts. The Maker employed a Bluetooth audio module and an amplifier breakout board from SparkFun, and built a custom PCB that would convert the stereo output to mono. Four 1.5V C batteries were used to power the unit.

Meanwhile, an Arduino Pro Mini (ATmega328) was tasked with two things: providing 3.3V to some of the other electronics and reading the rotary encoder responsible for volume control.

“I connected the rotary encoder to the Arduino and installed the Encoder Library from PJRC. This made it really easy to tell when the volume knob was clicked up or down,” he writes.


Gruskihe had to also modify the device’s existing mechanical buttons to drive the electronics using wire and hot glue.

“After some poking around with the springs and levers, I managed to find some spots that I could modify to get the mechanical behavior I wanted (momentary press/release of all button presses). There is a lever that is pushed down when a tape is inserted,” Gruskihe explains. “Once this was done, I could get all of the buttons to release instantly by holding down the stop/eject button. I found the lever that the stop/eject button was activating, and used some hot glue to lock it in place.”


What’s more, he found a spot for a hidden power switch underneath the cassette tape’s holder, which enabled him to adhere to the vintage aesthetics of the ‘80s toy. With the help of his Ultimaker, the Maker created a custom 3D-printed holder to keep the PCB in place. This allowed the new board to fit in the original compartment and for Gruskihe to keep the volume control in its usual location.

Intrigued? Check out the project in more detail here.

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