Sunday, November 18, 2012

The Geeks Shall Inherit The Earth...Bluetooth Speaker Hack

One of the coolest features of the iPhone is the ability to stream music using its Bluetooth capability.  Provided of course that you have a set of Bluetooth speakers.  Unfortunately I don’t.  I have a few sets of speakers lying around the house that will allow me to plug in an auxiliary source, but then I have to have a wire attached to my iPhone, making it less than portable.  My discretionary money account has been tapped because my dog is sick again, so buying new Bluetooth speakers is out of the question. 

I was pondering this dilemma on my commute home when I glanced up at my visor.  Sitting there patiently was a Bluetooth speakerphone.  I had bought this a couple of years ago when the state of Connecticut passed a law making it illegal to use your cellphone in the car.  I used it a few times but the speaker quality was so bad that I abandoned it and continued to TWD (talk while driving).  Hmmm, this might solve my problem.

I charged the battery, paired it to my iPhone and voila, it streamed the music from phone to the speakerphone and it played it through the crappy speaker.  I’m on to something.  I decided to see if I could hack the speakerphone to use it as a portable Bluetooth interface. 

I assembled the troops.  A soldering iron, two precision screwdrivers, Philips and straight, a drill with one eighth inch bit, wire cutters/strippers, a one eighth inch male to male stereo cord and some electrical tape. 

I carefully removed the tiny screws holding the speakerphone together and pried it apart. 

Next I removed the speaker and carefully separated the two wires soldered to it.  I put the unit together again and drilled a hole in the speaker side for the eighth inch wire jack. I cut about a foot of the male-to-male off and carefully stripped the insulation off the wires.  I threaded the wire through the hole and tied it in a knot to prevent anyone (meaning me) from accidentally pulling the wire out.

 Then I soldered the two wires from the now male only wire to the two leads from the speakerphone unit.  I covered the soldered wires with a bit of electrical tape and then put the unit together.  I plugged it into my speaker and turned on my iPhone.  It was already paired with the unit so I tapped the icon, selected the speakerphone and sat down and enjoyed some Neon Trees playing through my new Bluetooth enabled speakers.  

Total cost?  The speakerphone cost me twelve bucks a few years ago. I must have bought it on sale, because they currently cost around thirty dollars.  Go to eBay and search for Bluetooth speakerphones.  They are very cheap and the shipping will probably cost you more than the item.  I found the male-to-male wire in my junk drawer.  You can find one at Radio Shack for a couple of dollars if you don’t have one hanging around your house.  Total Time?  Ten minutes.  Total cost of enjoyment? Priceless!

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