Sure, the iPod is cool. Unfortunately, itis not really in the correct form to be mounted in a car or in a stack of stereo components. Since few car stereo or home stereo based MP3 players exist for an affordable cost, what is one to do? Why, build your own, of course!
While the popular solution is to use a laptop or some kind of ultra-tiny PC, such systems can be bulky and difficult to set up for use as a dedicated MP3 player. Fortunately, there is a smaller, easier, and cheaper system out there. The PJRC High Capacity MP3 Player Circuit Board is exactly what it sounds like. Itis a compact (approximately 3.5" hard drive size) circuit board that does one thing: it plays MP3s. The board has a headphone jack, a pair of RCA jacks for line-level output, a serial port, and connections for either a 3.5" or a 2.5" hard drive. The system supports up to a 32MB RAM SIMM for caching of songs, which cuts down on power usage when being powered by batteries. The best feature of the board? A fully assembled board will run you only $150. From PJRC:
This project is a stand alone MP3 player, designed for home, car, or portable use. It plays a group of MP3 files stored on a standard or laptop IDE hard disk drive... hundreds of hours using even todayis low-cost drives. The firmware is available under the GPL, for anyone who want to really customize the player. High quality audio output is provided by a 24 bit DAC, using both standard line-level outputs and an amplified headphone output. The large capacity allows the use of very high MP3 quality settings, that would reduce flash based players to only a few songs. Because itis a complete stand alone player usable in a variety of applications, you can have your entire MP3 music collection anywhere away from your computer.
The system has built-in support for an 8 by 24 character LCD display and extra control buttons, both of which can be added for $42. A kit is also available for those who want to solder all of the components onto a bare circuit board. The PJRC Web site has much more information.