When I’m doing chores around the house I like to listen to Old Time Radio shows. I’ll elaborate on that in another post, but I wanted to mention what I use to listen to them in case the idea is useful to someone else.
I have an old Fisher-Price baby monitor that I bought at a yard sale for about a dollar. It’s a typical model with a base unit transmitter and a small portable reciever you can carry around with you. Older units like this transmit a mono signal on a frequency in the 400Mhz range, which is lacking for modern music quality but perfectly adequate for what I need. (Most OTR recordings are AM quality, in keeping with the original equipment of the time.)
I modified the base unit (transmitter) with an audio input jack spliced into the microphone inputs. I disabled the microphone, since it was no longer needed, but it’d be just as easy to add a small switch. The new jack is mounted securely to the back of the case and connected to the computer with a simple audio cable. Total cost for the parts was about $5.00 at Radio Shack. Total time was about 10 minutes.
When I want to listen to an old episode of The Shadow or Escape! it’s a simple matter to plug the cable into the computer’s headphone jack, start Winamp playing, and carry around the portable unit. The range covers the whole house and part of the yard, too. The speakers mute on my PC when the audio cable is attached so my wife can watch TV or listen to music without being disturbed.
Why not use my portable MP3 player, you ask? Good question. First of all, the baby monitor reciever has a speaker instead of headphones. I’ve always found doing stuff around the house while wearing headphones to be a nuisance. They fall out or tangle or get caught on stuff. This unit is also a lot cheaper than an MP3 player, so if I get paint on it or drop it I won’t mind all that much. You can also hear other audio from the computer, like Messenger and AIM audio alerts. This is rather handy, actually; if someone tries to IM me I know right away.
Disadvantages include limited audio quality and, since it’s just an audio reciever, lack of any control over the playback (except volume, of course). But they don’t really bother me. (Especially for the price.)