On this page you find complete instructions on how to build and configure the Hardware of sTaLMP3Box.

  • The LCD-Display and its Connection to the PC
    1. For sTaLMP3Box you'll need a standard alphanumeric LCD-Display, HD44780-Compatible and with a minimum of 16 characters on 2 Lines (16x2). Actually I didn't test larger displays (like 20x2 or 20x4) but I think they should work, but there will be no advantages using a larger display than 16x2, yet. In future I'll improve the program so that with bigger LCDs more text will be displayed and so there will be advantage using larger displays. But for now, I recommend you a 16x2. I've used an "old" Philips LTN211, but there are many, really many other displays from a bunch of manufacturers. Today, you can get one for less than 15 Euros. The pinout of these displays is often the same, but there are exceptions (actually I own one of these exceptions: a JM162A from a chinese manufacturer called something like "Shinzen Jingua" which has 16 pins instead of the normal 14 pins... But I've got the datasheet for that display and you'll find it on the Useful-Stuff-Page). Here you find a Pinout diagram for the most common displays. More different pinout diagrams are on the Useful-Stuff-Page. But this diagram below is more or less the standard.

      Now the connection to the PC's Parallel Port:

      Connect the LCD with a 14 conductor flat cable (that's the easiest way) to a DB25 male connector (for printer port), with exactly the pin connections in the above diagram. If you don't need Display Contrast regulation, connect "Vo" (pin 3) directly to Ground.
      Connect +5V and GND to the right pins (red and black) of a Floppy Power Cable connector. Measure first with a multimeter to see if everything is right! Connect the DB25 connector to your target machine's printer port. Now start sTaLMP3Box to see if the display works. If not, check all connections measuring with a multimeter to see if they are all correctly connected and compare to the diagram again. Check also the power voltages and the voltages at all other pins. Does the display at least turn on (every line will appear in a light grey)? Then maybe it's only a connection problem in the Data pins or so. Check everything and if it's still not working, contact me. The LCD is very easy to install if you have one of these 5,25"-Floppy-Drive-Slot-To-3,5"-Floppy-Adapter-Frame that looks more or less like this one:
      (don't be shocked, the drawing was a test of my new graphic pad ;-) - so it's all drawed by hand...)

      Simply install the display behind the front panel of this adapter frame so that it is readable through the aperture. Fix it with hot glue or something. Then install the whole frame in one free 5,25" Drive Slot of your target PC and it'll look quite good. I recommend you buying a LCD with Backlight, as this is very useful when wanting to use the jukebox at night, for example. But if you don't have one with Backlight, you can install some tiny LEDs (yellow or green) around the display and you'll see at least something at night.
  • The Hardware of the Target Computer in Detail and its Prices
    1. Any PC above Pentium 90 will be O.K. Here is what I've used:

      Processor: Pentium 166 (with heatsink and small fan (doesn't make much noise))
      Motherboard: Some standard AT-Motherboard with SiS Chipset, I think ;)
      Bought it second-hand for 30 Euros with the above processor, so don't know exact specifications...
      It has ISA-slots, PCI-slots, PS/2 Memory Banks and EIDE-Controller on board.
      I've taken off the printerport connector from the external card-bracket, so I could connect my LCD's connector to that inside the computer's case.
      But you could naturally, instead of this way, find the right connection between the onboard parallel port connector (you'll need the motherboard manual for that! ) - where the cable to the card-bracket (remember, it's all old AT style! ;) normally is connected - and your LC-Display.
      Memory: 8 MB RAM. That's more than enough, as we are not going to run X-Server or something. Only command line mode, and for that even 4 MB would be enough. (My Linux installation got about 30 MB swap space.) Cost: about 8 Euros second-hand.
      Storage: 2 GB Harddisk from Western Digital - a friend gave it to me... But you could also install much more space, it's simply a question of what you want: more songs on the harddrive or more usage of CDs... Cost: about 15 Euros second-hand.
      I used to have a 48x CD-ROM Drive from unknown manufacturer, which I found after long search, because it was the only drive I found in between 5 others that was capable of reading CD-RW's so well, that you could play MP3s from them without any interruptions. But that drive is not working anymore, so I tried other older drives I had here, and it was terrible! All of them (two Lite-On 40x and some older ones) didn't read CD-Rs or CD-RWs reliably, having your music interrupted very often for several seconds, which is HORRIBLE! So what I did was buying a new drive. I found a very nice (it's already in black color!) drive from Samsung, 52x, production date 2003, it did only cost 23 euros and it is FANTASTIC! Together with CDSpeed it is super quiet! It reads EVERY CDR and CDRW without ANY interruptions and with it you mount a CD in two seconds. I've never seen such a good CD-Rom drive. (and I'm NOT being paid by Samsung for saying that :-)! Let me tell you something: Get yourself a whole stock of these drives before they run out! (I think they'll not produce much more of them, because hardly anyone wants a CDRom today, everyone buys DVD-Drives). Ah! And forget about the older (Production date 1999) Samsung 52x drives! They are very similar, but MUCH worse! They make lots of noise and don't read very well. And forget about all older drives, too, (like 8x or 6x) they don't read CD-RWs at all. But even for CD-Rs they're bad. Cost: between 10 and 20 Euros second-hand or 23 Euros if you buy a new one(RECOMMENDED!)
      Other Devices: One 3,5" Floppy Drive for updating easily sTaLMP3Box, without need for connecting a monitor. Cost: 8 Euros second-hand.
      Expansion Cards: The Sound Card is a "ESS 1868 Plug'n'Play AudioDrive ISA PNP" from a German company called "Pearl", which isn't bad in terms of sound quality and very easy to install under Linux. In future I'll maybe install some better card, for example a modern PCI SoundBlaster. In the beginning I had a OPTi 82C931 card installed, which I succeeded to install (under Linux and OSS/Free it works only as NON-PlugAndPlay Card and everything has to be done manually...) but it had some kind of defect so I switched to the ESS card. I recommend you using some modern high quality PCI soundcard if you're "audiophile", but for the average person a cheap second-hand ISA soundcard like the ESS or similar is quite good enough.Cost of normal ISA card: between 8 and 15 euros second-hand. A standard ISA 1MB graphic-card is installed for the case that the system need to be mantained. But normally a graphic card is not needed.
      Peripherical: Standard Keyboard, also painted black ;), with stickers on the keys that are the commands of stalmp3box with inscription of what that key does. No mouse, no monitor. Cost: 10 euros second-hand.
      Total Cost:
      ca. only 100 Euros !

      A similar jukebox player costs more than 300 Euros when you buy it... And it has less capabilities, and YOU DIDN'T BUILD IT!! :)

      The whole "beast" is installed in a normal desktop computer case (should not be very "high", so that it looks at least a bit like a CD-Player or something in the format.) which I painted completely black. The same I did with the CD-Drive, Floppy, and simply everything on the front panel of the PC. So it looks really cool! ;) The power supply is a normal AT 150 W which I modified in such way, that the fan only gets 5V instead of normal 12V, and therefore it almost doesn't make any noise. But only do this if you can handle electronic parts and high voltages! It's at your own risk! I can't be made responsible for any damage to you or to your equipment in case of wrong handling. So, if you don't want to risk it, then leave it as it is, because the noise it makes isn't really as terrible as you think ;).

      The Speaker output of the soundcard is connected via a standard "jack to RCA" cable to my HiFi power amplifier. And it rocks! :)

    EOF ---> 31.12.2002: Important Notice! This page is ALMOST finished. So it is very close to the final version. But there may be still errors and missing stuff and so. Therefore, visit sTaLMP3Box Site regularly and you'll see on the News-Page if any changes have been made to this Hardware Page.