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

Discussion in 'Electronic Design' started by Avi Frier, Dec 24, 2004.

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  1. Avi Frier

    Avi Frier Guest

    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.
    http://www.visionburst.com/radio/

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

    Thank you!
     
  2. 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?
     
  3. Avi Frier

    Avi Frier Guest

    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.

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

    3. 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.

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

    5. 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.

    6. 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:
    http://www.visionburst.com/radio/
    or by calling 954-987-2720 ext 18

    Thanks!
     
  4. 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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    Important: Anything sent to the email address in the message header above is
    ignored unless my full name is included in the subject line. Or, you can
    contact me via the Feedback Form in the FAQs.
     
  5. Rolavine

    Rolavine Guest

    Subject: Re: I need a good tinkerer who can help me with a project - Better
    Instead of a tape in the unit you could use a solid state voice recorder, that
    would save some space. To be a better illusion you would want to have the
    secret record mode selected via a remote, so your not in contact with the boom
    box at all, right?

    Good trick, I can't help you though, economic conditions require that I not
    work for free. If only my clients would get that, lol!

    Rocky
     
  6. NSM

    NSM Guest

    | 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:

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

    N
     
  7. 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.
     
  8. Avi Frier

    Avi Frier Guest


    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.

    Avi
     
  9. Avi Frier

    Avi Frier Guest

    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.
     
  10. Avi Frier

    Avi Frier Guest

    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.

    Avi
     
  11. 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!
     
  12. Guy Macon

    Guy Macon Guest

    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.
     
  13. Rich Grise

    Rich Grise Guest

    Don't mail it to an accomplice. Mail it to a notary, and ask them to
    record the date and stamp it, then come to the show.

    Rig the boombox so that when the accomplice puts the tape into
    the boom box and hits "play", it does the magic - you don't need
    to touch anything. Of course, you have to play it all the way
    through, and then _not_ do the magic again, i.e. "Play" now
    means "play".

    I'd like to come up with a Sledge-o-Matic illusion involving a
    volunteer's head - maybe paint him blue first... >;->

    Cheers!
    Rich
     
  14. NSM

    NSM Guest

    |
    | | >
    | > 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.

    N
     
  15. Guy Macon

    Guy Macon Guest

    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.
     
  16. Guest

    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.
     
  17. Guy Macon

    Guy Macon Guest

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

    Guy Macon Guest

    Even better!
    Yup. That's what I wrote. The secret sequence is to arm it again
    before the next show.
     
  19. Steve

    Steve Guest

    Guy Macon <http://www.guymacon.com/> wrote:

    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. http://www.compgeeks.com/details.asp?invtid=MACERGDUP-128-N&cat=MP3 )
    forget screwing with yet another tape. This particular example records, too.
    Should be able to fit this inside a large boom box.

    Thanks, Steve
     
  20. Guy Macon

    Guy Macon Guest

    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.
     
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