Okay, here's the deal, I think mp3 players and other portable entertainment devices can be built almost entirely from recycled parts. Inspiration is my mp3/cd player which is on it's last leg. I fixed it and got an extra year out of it(2006 is my 3rd year of owning it, I bought it new, but was just a Maxell. I buy cheap first just to see if I'll actually use a device, and often I can pass devices on to little kids or my mom when things work out). Now it's on it's way down the tubes. I tightened this one little screw and it worked, like I said, I got an extra year out of the thing. Didn't expect that much.
Having fixed it before, I'm very close to positive that everything on board + the lcd and buttons still work. Yesterday(and don't ask me why it happened yesterday, "EUREKA!" moments hit when they hit, no sooner, no later) I asked myself, "How does an mp3/cd player decode mp3s?" Then I cracked mine open(for the 2nd time) and closely inspected it's innards. Well, having absolutely no idea where the decoder would be, I looked all over the thing, and at a glance, the mp3s are decoded by magic. Which of course makes no sense whatsoever. So I looked closer, and could tell the board is double sided and a lot of the parts are on the reverse side of the board. It's firmly in place, and I don't dare remove it without much consideration, because I don't want to break any useable parts. But eventually I'll figure out how to get it loose.
I wanted to know how the mp3/cd player decodes mp3s now! Not tomorrow, but now(well, yesterday would make tomorrow today, but then I find myself in a Lewis Carrol themed loop about jam tomorrow, jam yesterday, but never any jam today, so I'll drop it). Okay, so I googled the following phrase "cd/mp3 player schematics" which resulted in a link to instructions for building a low cost cd/mp3 player + all sorts of product descriptions and other useful information. It's of course intended for use by companies who manufacture electronics for retail, but that hardly matters.
What I found was how a cd/mp3 player decodes mp3s and more. The decoder chip also decodes cd audio, which probably sounds ridiculous from a DIY stance. However, I don't think it is. See I think that there are many people who want to build hard drive based mp3 players for their cars, who have certain CDs in their collection which for sound reasons, they don't want to compress. Besides that, who cares if you'll never use one of the codecs? I know plenty of folks who never use codecs that their mp3 players can decode, they just don't like those codecs, or else they're iTunes users who either can't or won't convert certain files. They shelled out a fortune for features they'll never use.
I realize it's not an easy undertaking. That the firmware and software would probably be a major hassle to configure for use with recycled parts, including decoders. Still, I like this idea. Since folks throw out devices which no longer work, just because they don't know how to fix them, or can't be botherred to. Well, I'm sorry, but there's a lot of machines out there with mp3 decoding capability that will either end up in landfills or else just sit on a shelf. If you don't have such a device, you might just know someone who does. Why not ask them if you can have it? If they can't bring themselves to just give said device to you, you could ask them to sell it to you for very little money.
I'm not asking for anyone to do all the grunt-work of making a recycled mp3 player for me. That would be selfish and stupid. If I can teach myself what I need to know, I can make as many as I like, and have a real feeling of accomplishment.
What I'm asking is, if anyone else is interrested in doing such a thing. Also, would you care to join a yahoo group, or livejournal community to discuss the project(s), and share helpful tips.
BTW, not to be harsh, but if you own a cd/mp3 player, and it still works, and it costed you a fortune to buy, imho you're a fool to use it for parts. That's just a bit of a disclaimer, because I don't want anyone surfing the net to say I put the idea in their head and now they have no mp3 player, and no cd player and it's all my fault. It's not. I'm talking about machines which no longer work, but for mechanical reasons having nothing to do with parts needed to build a standalone drive based mp3 player. I realize nobody here would do that(well, not without understanding the consequences first), but those just surfing might.