I need a good tinkerer who can help me with a project

I want to rig a standard boom box as follows:

- Concealed inside the boom-box, I need to have a microcassette player that is not noticeable when someone makes a cursory examination of the boombox. I need to be able to open the "secret compartment" where it is stored to insert a microcassette that I've already recorded on another machine.

- When someone inserts a regular cassette into the main cassette player of the boom box and hits "Play," the cassette plays as it would on any other cassette player. BUT...

- I also need a secret switch in the back that I can flip, which will put the boom box into "Secret Mode." When the boom box is in secret mode and someone hits "Play", the cassette inside begins to turn as if it were playing, BUT actually the cassette is now RECORDING, not playing. The sound coming out of the speakers, rather than the standard cassette, is actually the hidden microcassette. Whatever plays on the microcassette is now simultaneously being recorded on the standard cassette

- Regarding the "secret switch" it does not need to be invisible, it just needs to look like it belongs there, and not attract any attention at all. I remember back in the 80s, I had a boom box that had a switch in the back labeled "Beat Count." To this day I don't know what that switch was for, but it's the type of switch I'm referring to. I've also seen boom boxes with a switch in the back the changes the FM mode between stereo and mono.

- Regarding the boom box, it needs to look like any other modern boom box. It can have a CD player and AM/FM radio, but I don't care if either of them works; if you want to remove the guts of the CD player to make room for whatever you need to put inside, that's fine as long as the outward appearance of the boom box is unaffected. I do, however, want to be able to use the boom box on battery power, so we can't sacrifice the battery compartment.

- Since the AM/FM radio will not be needed, we can use the AM/FM switch instead of the secret switch, as long as I can flip it easily without anyone noticing. If I can rest my hand on top of the boom box and casually flip the switch while doing something else (like ejecting a cassette) that works too, and we would not need the secret switch in the back.

- Since the hidden microcassette recorder will be wired into the boom box's sound system, feel free to trash the speaker and any other unnecessary parts. Please contact me directly with any questions, price quotes, etc.

I prefer not to include my email address, so please use the form at the URL below to contact me.

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You can also call me at 954-987-2720 ext 18.

Thank you!

Reply to
Avi Frier
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Using tools?

Will you need to disable the write-protect circuitry, so you can write on pre-recorded and write-protected casssettes?

The bigger the better, as most of them have a significant amount of empty space inside.

Well, a couple of questions come to mind:

What are you going to use this for? What does a marketing company want with such a device?

How much are you willing to pay? Tens, hundreds, thousands of dollars?

Would you consider playing a CD instead of a micro-cassette? How long a 'tape' do you want to 'play'?

Do you want more than one of these things?

Reply to
William P.N. Smith

OK, based on the questions and apparent raised eyebrows from my post, I'll explain a little better. I was hoping to NOT have to do this; when you read my explanation you'll understand why.

Yes, I do run a marketing company, but my first love is performing magic. I came up with this idea for the performance of a trick that has been around for years, but I think my implementation will improve the performance of it.

The trick goes like this:

A few days before the show, I mail a package to the client and ask that they keep it sealed and bring it to the show. At some point in the show, I call them on stage. A boom box is displayed. They pick any tape and play it in the boombox-- this shows that the boombox is "normal."

Then, I ask them to read to the audience the postmark on the package and to tell everyone when they received it, and that they have kept it on their person the entire day. They open the package and it contains a tape. They put the tape in the boombox, hit play, and everyone in the audience hears my voice reading off today's headlines from the newspaper.

When the trick is over, they can take the cassette home with them-- it will contain today's headlines no matter where they play it.

SO, to answer the myriad of questions this topic brought on...

  1. Yes, we can use tools to put in the microcassette, as I'll be doing this well in advance of the show.

  1. No, it's not illegal, nor is it something I can buy at the local spy shop.

  2. If we can disable the write protect circutry, that would make it even better, since the tape could be punched when it comes out of the package.

  1. I don't have thousands of dollars to spend on this.

  2. It can be a CD instead of a microcassette, as long as the CD player on the unit seems empty. The entire recording will be 2-3 minutes. Some shows, max 5.

  1. For now, I only want one, but we may find a market within the magic community for more.

If anyone has any other questions, please feel free to post or contact me directly at:

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or by calling 954-987-2720 ext 18










Reply to
Avi Frier

That could be fun if there are no electronic types in the audience!

Everything you want to do is very straightforward as long as you can find space for the microcassette player inside the boombox. Large boomboxes are mostly empty space so this shouldn't be a major problem.

The record protect is just a switch that can be removed or jumpered as needed.

You could rewire any of the user control switches to select the magic mode as long as your slight of hand is adequate so the audience doesn't notice.

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Reply to
Sam Goldwasser

You don't need any specific info on the boom box. The WP sensor is a leaf-type contact, easily bridged with a switch or relay (or just short it out permanently as a simple hack). The record button is potentially a bit more complicated as it sometimes engages a very complicated multipole selector switch.

Audio input is probably easiest routed through disabling the CD player and tying into the audio path there. Some quick probing with a scope should reveal everything one needs to know.

Reply to

That is why I am going with a very conventional looking boombox. In general, magic with apparent everyday objects is more impressive because people don't even think of them as being rigged.


Reply to
Avi Frier

Ahh, I've found a fellow magic junkie.

Unfortunately, since there are commercial versions of this available, they'd rather sell me one than accept my premise that my method is better.

Reply to
Avi Frier


That's why I'm posting here. I figured most of this group's readers would consider this a simple thing, whereas I am not proficient enough to do this myself.

I was hoping to pay someone to do it for me.


Reply to
Avi Frier

Sounds like the sort of thing that Tannen's or Abbott could make for you. Not exactly in the Osborne class!

Reply to

Or... dispense with using the "click your heels together" methods of pushing buttons to go into magic mode by using an RF remote controller. No need to touch the boom box at all. And could easily add the advantage to repeatedly leave or re-enter magic mode, too.

I agree with other posters to ditch the hidden 2nd micro cassette. With MP3 playing devices available with no moving parts at reasonable cost, (e.g.

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) forget screwing with yet another tape. This particular example records, too. Should be able to fit this inside a large boom box.

Thanks, Steve

Reply to

You could make the trick even more impressive. Imagine when the play button is pushed the radio section of the boombox is turned on, and todays news come directly out of the speakers!

Then there is no need for mailing packages etc..

But honestly, don't you understand that we live in a world full of electronic gadgets, which can perform practically any action at the push of a button?

Most of your intended viewers will be very un-impressed by this "trick".

It is a typical technical trick, like if you rigged a switch so the light comes on in the living room when you push the switch in the kitchen. Might impress a 4-year old child, but not anybody else. Most people will immediately realize that you have wired the button, or the boombox, in a less conventional way.

Roger J.
Reply to
Roger Johansson

I read in sci.electronics.design that Avi Frier wrote (in ) about 'I need a good tinkerer who can help me with a project - Better Explanation', on Mon, 27 Dec 2004:

It is pretty simple, but for one thing - it's very difficult if not impossible to get technical information on boom-box circuitry unless it's an up-market product and you are an authorised dealer, and such information is almost certainly necessary.

Oh, those magic words! Pity you are x-thousand miles away!

Regards, John Woodgate, OOO - Own Opinions Only. 
The good news is that nothing is compulsory.
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Reply to
John Woodgate

Even if there were, they might not sumble on to the trick.

Yup. This seem pretty easy to do for an electronic technician.

Hint: avoid boom boxes with big buttons that go "clunk." Those are mechanical and hard to tap into. Get the kind with pushbuttons that are silent or which have a quit click. They are electronic and easy to tap into.

Do this right and you could sell them to other magicians.

Reply to
Guy Macon

| > Sounds like the sort of thing that Tannen's or Abbott could make for you. | > Not exactly in the Osborne class! | >

| | Ahh, I've found a fellow magic junkie. | | Unfortunately, since there are commercial versions of this available, they'd | rather sell me one than accept my premise that my method is better.

FWIW, there are chips that can store up to 90 seconds of audio. You might be able to build what you want in a small cassette player which would look less capable of being rigged.

One that has a small slide switch would be easy to operate and unobtrusive.

Reply to

As a test engineer, I assume everything is rigged. I appreciate "magic" shows for the displayed dexterity and ingenuity of the performer. Now, if you could announce TOMORROW'S headlines, I'd be a lot more impressed.

Ed wb6wsn

Reply to
Ed Price

I disagree. Here is how I would do it if I had the time to take on the project:

The magician stands on the other side of the stage and calls out instructions.

The boom box looks 100% stock and in the original package. The magician asks for an audience member who is an "engineer, repairperson, technician or gadget freak." He selects three of them and asks them on stage to "watch for any tricks."

One audience member removes the boombox from a shrink wrapped box, inserts the batteries, opens the box with the tape in it, "plays" the tape (which actually gets recorded on while "playing." When he stops the tape, the boom box turns back into a 100% normal boombox.

The engineer/etc. then does whatever tests he pleases to verify that it's a perfectly normal boombox. It even has a "warrantee void if this seal is disturbed" sticker over one of the case screws. Each of the other technician/etc. audience members does his own test. Give them a blank tape to use because the tape from the box has the write protect tabs broken out. (the boombox ignores the write protect. but only in "magic mode."

Optional: another audience member was asked to bring in his own cassette tape player. He confirms that the tape plays the same on his machine.

Optional: another audience member was asked to bring in his own cassette tape. He confirms that the tape plays normally on the boombox.

To reset the boom box into "magic mode" press play six times, fast forward three times, rewind twice, and play twice. Or some other hard-to-guess combination

The boom box goes out of "magic mode" and becomes normal only after a tape has been played for 90 seconds without stopping (assuming a two minute long message - adjust according to length.)

All this could be done with a Basic Stamp or BasicX stamp.

Guy Macon http://www.guymacon.com/>
Reply to
Guy Macon

Hey, speak for yourself; I'd get out of my chair for a lot less than $10k.

One of my buddies retired from NASA after 37 years; you mean he's a millionaire and never told me?

Do you know that owning 12.5% of something that goes bankrupt is not the road to riches?

Ed wb6wsn

Reply to
Ed Price

"Avi Frier" wrote: [I'm with Roger, this may not be very impressive in a world in which technology performs miracles on a daily basis.]

This would be a perfect project for some random high-school student, assuming they still fiddle with hardware. Ask me 30 years ago! 8*)

A couple of random thoughts:

Maybe have the input and record-override functions be radio, so you don't have to open the box to add a microcassette, or use a solid-state memory to hold the headlines data.

Ask other members of the audience to bring their own boombox from home, so after playing it in yours you can play it in theirs.

Of course, there's always the sleight-of-hand of swapping the cassette...

Sounds like a fun project, but you are on the wrong coast, I don't have the bandwidth to do it in my spare time, and you can't afford my normal hourly rate. 8*)

Reply to
William P.N. Smith

It sounds to me as if you could do it simply by accessing the microphone, speaker, and switches - no knowledge of the internals needed.

Reply to
Guy Macon

Even better!

Not only that, but it has silent operation and higher reliability.

I have this mental picture of a bunch of fellows who design electronics for a living examining this perfectly normal (at the moment) boom box trying to figure out the trick. How did he do it? He was standing 15 feet away! The box with the cassette was mailed to someone we all know and trust! We opened the box, we played the tape, we tested the tape and the boombox and verified that they are both normal. I think that most engineers would be stumped.

Reply to
Guy Macon

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