In 2001, when Sony released the MZ R500, the bluetooth technology it was in its infancy and was limited to a few mobile phones, such as the Ericsson T36. Listening to music wirelessly was something that nobody imagined.
If you wanted to enjoy your favorite album on the aforementioned Walkman MiniDisc you had to use wired headphones. Today, however, the reality is very different. Audio-level wireless connection has become an everyday thing.
Adding Bluetooth to an old Walkman
What would happen, then, if someone wanted to use a Sony MZ R500 with AirPods? The quick answer, without considering external accessories, would be that it is impossible. But Daniel Rojas does not believe that it is the only answer. This maker has managed to add Bluetooth support to your Walkman from 22 years ago.
To achieve this feat, the young man removed an integrated circuit board from a FlyTunes Bluetooth audio transmitter, an accessory that allows wireless headphones to be used on devices that only have audio output through a 3.5mm connection.
Rojas could have connected the transmitter to the Jack output of his Walkman and thus obtained Bluetooth audio, but, as we mentioned above, the young man wanted to integrate the solution inside the player of music to achieve a result that is as neat as possible.
To do this, however, he had to sacrifice functionality. In order to make room for the new component, he opted to remove the hardware associated with the device’s recording capabilities, turning it solely into a playback Walkman.
The next step was to connect the audio output to the PCB of the wireless transmitter. Also, I deactivate the “End Search” function, which is rarely used, and turned it into a dedicated button for pairing devices.
As the video shows us, the Walkman ended up working with AirPods, but the process to get to that result was not easy. Rojas explains that he did not reach the desired performance level on the first try, so he divided his project into three revisions.
The author of this project has published all the details on GitHub so anyone interested in doing it themselves can give it a try. Of course, he warns, that in addition to the necessary components and tools, it is a fundamental requirement to have knowledge of electronics.
Images: Daniel Rojas
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