Monday, October 13, 2014

Recordable Sound Modules

I love those greeting cards that make sounds. Despite the environmental impact and their expense. They're just a lot of fun. I wanted to make my own greeting card, so I started looking into it. And I ran across these recordable greeting card modules on Amazon. I put links to them at the end of this post if you're interested.

It was quite a bit of work getting one of these to work however so I figured I would give back to global intelligence and provide the list of steps that work for me (since I found almost nothing out there).

First step is a created a Windows XP VM. I used Windows XP because that is what I had. I would expect Windows 7 to work just as well if not better. Obviously you don't have to use a VM if you already have a Windows installation that you'd rather use.

I then installed the .NET runtime. Unfortunately there was one step here that I can't quite remember. I think a DLL needed to be copied.

Then I downloaded the software that comes with this card. It's called LXSoundLoader. I put it in a folder named LXSoundLoader. Here is where I think I had an issue with the .NET framework. I think a DLL needed to be in the LXSoundLoader directory. Here is a listing of the files I have in that directory:


Next, I got ffmpeg which is a free utility to convert mp3 files to the sampling rate the recordable sound modules requires.

Then I created a readme.txt located on the desktop of the VM with the following steps:

1. Edit file in Garage Band or Soundtrack Pro
2. Share | Export song to disk
3. Save as mp3
4. copy to vm c:\temp\file.mp3
5. open ffmpeg folder on desktop
6. run ft-prompt (this is a console for ff-prompt)
7. run:

ffmpeg -i c:\temp\in.mp3 -ar 8000 c:\temp\out.mp3

8. Open LXSoundLoader
9. run LX
10. Add file (choose output.mp3)
11. click write button

There you go. For just a little more cost than to buy a pre-recorded greeting card you can make your very own to say whatever you want. I've used them for my kids school projects, to scare people when they open a door in the house, and more recently to make a talking teapot for Halloween. It's a little tricky hooking up the module to trigger off a different switch but it is possible.

Note that below I provided two links to two different sound modules with different prices. The one that comes in a pack of three for $27 comes with one sound module programmer and three sound modules. These are meant for greeting cards with a switch that slides. It's actually quite difficult to get the card to work right and turn on when it is opened. I prefer the other one that is $9.99 for one module and one programmer, but it is more expensive. This one comes with a pushbutton and is a little easier to add your own button to trigger it another way. Enjoy!


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