Spending the Afternoon Taking Apart My Stereo (and Not Doing School Work)

A “project,” for me, is taking a broken thing and fixing it. Or, conversely, taking a working thing and breaking it. Far more likely, and a great way to learn simple lessons through hours (or weeks) of frustration. Yesterday I needed a project.

Part of it was I went to the MIT swapfest, which fed my inspiration to find something to tinker with. Also, part of my inspiration to fine a project was seeing this guy while biking back to Boston:

This guy was willing to wobble crosstown with a poorly secured computer, scanner, keyboard, and mouse. I ought to be willing to take apart something in my apartment.

Onto the project! I’ve got this stupid stereo system:

I got it off Craigslist years ago when I first moved to Brooklyn. After a super sketchy transaction, I figured out Craigslist is just an easy way sell stolen merch in Brooklyn. Anyways, I only use Aux in, which is good because by now the radio is broken, the CD player is broken, and the tape deck is (I assume) broken. And they’re broken in a way so that motors will spontaneously spin and click in the middle of the night at a volume that makes me hide under covers with a crucifix. They need to go. Also, that LCD screen is bright and flashes nonesense. When you turn the stereo off, the screen goes in “Demo Mode,” which is brighter and flashier. That also needs to go. First, check the exterior:

Get the screwdrivers! Unscrew, unscrew, yank, snip, fuck you Tape Deck!

You’ll never be cool like vinyl.

And fuck you, 3-disk changer!

You were a stopgap between 1-disk and iPod. I’d show more mercy if you didn’t loudly cycle through three empty slots at random times, hoping today would be your day. No one likes you-get out of my face.

Maybe in taking it apart, I found my first use for that CD player. There’s a heavy magnet that holds CDs firmly to the spindle platter, so – yank, snap, bend, unscrew, BAM – Free refrigerator magnet:

Well, the flashing lights are more difficult than I thought they would be. I spent some time staring at logic boards and reading about embedded systems. Unplugging some wires stops all audio. Unplugging other wires bricks the thing. It looks like the control system (volume, inputs, mixing) are too closely integrated with the display. I bet I could bypass the current display and replace it with a simple serial LCD and a pile of aligator clips, but that will have to be another project. So, I put all the useful components back together. In a very small victory, all the mechanical parts are now removed and I was able to watch a whole movie without any whirring and clicking. Jesus, Paccino does a great Shylock, but I forgot how weird that play is….