Your front lawn is full of gravestones, skeletons hang from the trees and a haze of cobwebs coats your porch. Yup, you've gone all out this Halloween to make your house the spookiest on the block.
But one thing is ruining the whole effect -- that damned cheerful Ding-Dong doorbell. Here's how to replace that noise with a scary-sounding MP3, so you can announce a visitor with an instrument of terror.
You've got two options when it comes to MP3 doorbells. If you're comfortable around basic electronics and fancy yourself a maker, you can always build your own temporary solution on the cheap. Or, you can buy a custom doorbell meant for MP3s, and just hang a new switch by the front door.
To do a DIY doorbell mod, you'll need:
- An inexpensive battery-powered MP3 player
- A set of amplified speakers
- One double-ended headphone jack
Once you've loaded the player with a terrifying MP3 to use as the doorbell tone, flip the circuit breaker that controls the doorbell to turn off its power. Unscrew the doorbell's face plate and pull out the button's switch hardware to get a look at the wires coming off of it. Then, go to the doorbell chime (on a nearby interior wall) and disconnect the same wires from the chime's circuitry. Remove the MP3 player's cover, and connect the wires running from the doorbell into the Play button with a bit of solder. Then, use the double-ended headphone jack to connect the MP3 player to the speaker amp. Flip the circuit breaker back on and check your handiwork with a multimeter. Then, hide the speakers on the front porch and crank 'em up for a test run.
It's possible to swap the battery-powered MP3 player for a wired 9V connection. This is ideal if you want to make something a little more permanent. Popular Science offers a decent tutorial on this project, but with all the regulators and wall warts, it's a little confusing -- be sure to check out this Electro Tech Online thread for clarification.
Now, if we lost you at "flip the circuit breaker", no worries. The DIY custom doorbell craze has spawned a plethora of self-contained doorbell systems that require virtually no setup. They're easy, but they're costlier than the homebrew options. The Swann MP3 DJ Doorbell, for example, retails $US50, and can be mounted using screws or non-marking adhesive tape. You load it either by USB or 32GB SD card, and it runs on three AA's. That might not be as imposing as blasting a shriek from a dedicated speaker. But, c'mon, it's not like six-year-olds are that tough to scare as it is.
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