2nd hand MP3 players!

I’ve typed a few times about radio rallies. They’re basically markets for new and old amateur radio equipment, computer bits, and box upon box of various other electronic hardware that have served its useful life. Still, there’s nothing wrong with digging through these boxes of miscellaneous flotsam to see if there’s something that’s worth looking at, or giving a second home.

You may remember I pulled out a perfectly working voice recorder last year for £1. Now, due to the fact that the headphone port on my phone is broken (or rather, there’s half a newspaper stuck in it, which won’t shift), I’ve been using this voice recorder as an MP3 player. The slight problem with it, is that it’s an absolute beast. The microphone on top of it makes it look like a taser, so I don’t like getting it out in public (oo-er). It was still serviceable, however, so I wasn’t really in the market for a new one

Today was the first radio rally of the year, in Ripon. Chris came with me, and right in the middle of a box of trash, he spied a little box. “MP3 Player 4Gb”. Of course, the burning question is, did it come home with me?

Pffft. Of course it did.

It’s one of those little “chewing gum” MP3 players, without any type of screen, or other functionality. The guy wanted £3 for it. I talked him down to £2. Finally, those years of watching re-runs of Bargain Hunt have finally paid off. My first successful haggle!

It came with everything it should have done. Manual, mini (not micro) USB cable, and Of course, the in-ear headphones. I don’t think they’ve been used, but I’m going to nuke them from orbit, just to be on the safe side. As you can see, it’s badged with the Alba name, and has the model number MP420008UK. Anybody that knows anything about hi-fi would probably projectile vomit at the mere mention of the word “Alba”, but if it wasn’t for my original Alba music system, which I got for Xmas 1991, and the CD player in 1992, I’d probably not have the same interest in music that I do now. The hi-fi is long gone, but the CD player still works. , or it did the last time I plugged it in anyways.

So, anyway, back to this MP3 player. What’s the first thing you do with any type of 2nd hand storage media? That’s right, you plug it in, check to see what the previous owner had on it! I think I’m safe publishing this. It’s an MP3 player. I don’t think they’re going to be listening to their personal documents through this.

It seems this MP3 player had a very easy life, as there were only a few files on it. The majority of the drive seemed to contain the same random data string, so it was either like this from the factory, or the previous owner wiped it using a utility. This was entirely possible, as due to the .trash-1000 folder, the previous owner was using Linux. It didn’t come back with anything other than the few tracks that were already visible. The rest of the 17 files were just random system files.

Oddly, a lot of German-named tracks. Edith Piaf too. Coincidentally, Chris was with me when I saw her grave in Paris. Funny how these things come together like that.

So, I’ve typed all of this, but does the bloody thing work? Yes, is the short answer.

Cosmetically, it’s in mint condition. No obvious wear, and the serial number sticker isn’t worn at all. As this has spent (what looks like) many years stashed away, I’m not sure how healthy the non-replaceable battery is going to be, but it charged without an issue.

I formatted it, and copied three, songs to it. They’re the first three instrumental versions from the “Pandora’s Box” version of Hell Frost, by The Unguided, if you were wondering, and yes, it works great. Despite it only being 4Gb, that’s plenty of space for the short bus journey to work. It certainly lasted the whole time it took me to type this.

In conclusion, I’m pretty happy with this purchase. It’ll certainly last me until I upgrade my phone. Now, to choose what other crap to fling on it!

EDIT: October 2019 – It’s appeared to have developed a loose/dirty power switch, where a knock or a jolt will turn it off. It might just need a clean, or it might have just been thrown about once too often. I’ll see how it goes. 6 months use out of a few quid. Not bad.

Another weekend, another radio rally!

Ahhh, radio rallies. A subject I’ve touched on briefly, yet can’t have touched on them enough, as everyone l mention them to, seems to look at me with some type of confusion etched on their faces. So, let’s start from the beginning.

I’ve mentioned before, Daddykins is a radio ham. No, that’s not some type of wireless pig, it’s a name given to someone who has an interest in amateur radio. For as long as I can remember, he’s been taking me to radio rallies, and I always enjoy them. There are basically huge places, filled with lots of stalls, selling radio, and sometimes computer goodies. I remember getting a load of ZX Spectrum tapes from one, when I was about 10, most of which got used as blank tapes to store other games on, as they weren’t very good..

Fast forward through the years, and, until recently, visits to radio rallies were few and far between, yet I always looked forward to them, sometimes planning them months in advance.

A few years ago, Daddykins and myself began attending the yearly BARAC rally in Spennymoor, a small town a few miles west of the lovely fishing village of Hartlepool. This was an annual event, usually talking place in the first week of December. We both enjoyed it. Daddykins would look for the radio stuff, and I’d spend my time rummaging through boxes of loose cables and circuit boards for something that looked vaguely interesting. Usually, it’d be a drive of some variety, whether it be CD, flash, or even floppy.

Years went by, and we have began to attend these a lot more regularly, and further afield. There was Newark last year, this year so far, we’ve been to Ripon, and today, Blackpool. Now, this held a bit more of an interest for me, as it was going to take place in the “Norbreck Castle” hotel…

Well, OK, the ” RBRECK C STLE HOTEL”. You probably won’t remember that I stayed here many years ago. I recall the out-of-date biscuits next to the kettle. You, however, may recall, however, that I did a video about a hairdryer, filmed in that very hotel many years ago…

Haaaa. fun times.

Anyway, back to the radio rally. Chris came along with us. He was also making the same return trip (he’s the one holding the camera in the above video), and we were both interested to see just how much renovation had happened to the place since we’d both checked out. The answer: hardly any. It still looked almost exactly the same. It was like travelling back in time 7 years. Anyway, we were not here to ridicule the decor, we were here to have a look at what vintage tat I could walk away with.

It was being held in the big exhibition centre they have there. This was the place where they held the “entertainment” when we were there, and could quite comfortably hold a few thousand people…

The ceiling lights had changed from mercury to LED over the years, however. Ahem.

It wasn’t long until I started rummaging through boxes. The sight of “Everything £1” caught my eye, as you’d expect it would. I started rummaging, and pulled out a little, nondescript beige box, with what looked like either a taser, or a dictaphone / recording device thing. It was £1, so it was either going to be broken, or something missing from it, such as the battery, but for less than the price of a bottle of coke (damn you sugar tax!), I wasn’t going to pass it up. I also pulled out an absolutely massive old external CD/DVD drive. This thing was such a beast that it took standard size DVD drives, and not the shitty little laptop drives. Also, at £1, I decided that the power supply alone would be worth that, even if the drive was completely shagged.

Chris almost had a coronary at the sight of these… and at 50p each, he picked both of them up…

It was around that time, that I mearly creamed by boxers at the sight of an old, yellowed Chicony keyboard, with some of the nicest switches I’d used for a long time. Unfortunately, it had the old style 5-pin AT connector, no windows keys, and the asking price was £40. Ever so clightly out of my price range, but seeing as I think this poor little keyboard is reaching the end of its life (or at least be relegated to the keyboard I use at work, or something), I’d have liked that to be my replacement. Never mind.

Just along from that, was something made me go weak at the knees, was the sight of a laserdisc player, in perfect nick, with some discs to go along with it. I didn’t even query the price of it, as I simply didn’t have the space for one, but it was the first time I saw one “in the wild”, as it were.

A few other bits and bobs were acquired (20 slimline CD cases for £1 for example), and it was over all too soon. Daddykins had gone back to the car, and we’d completed enough laps of the place to make Mo Farah look dizzy (He only does road races now, you know – Ed). Shut up.

I had a peer into my little beige box, and upon further investigation, it was indeed a dictaphone type thing. It looked in absolutely perfect nick. It was 8Gb too, and to my amazement, it powered on and recorded!

A test recording

Back in the box it went, for further examination when I got home. The way back was uneventful, except I managed to get a folder of a “Trainer tree”… around here they hang trainers from telephone wires. Up on t’moors, they grow them on trees…

Looks like it’s blossoming for the spring!

So, anyway, back home, and I examined this little recorder a little more. Here’s a photo of the device itself.

Everything appears to be in the box, except for the Micro USB cable, of which I have dozens, so absolutely no loss there. The headphones were still sealed, but they look cheap as hell.. I’d never heard of the make (Evistr?), and I’d expected it to be an Amazon / Won Hung Lo Special, and indeed it is, but it’s on there for £33ish. Not bad.

So, curiosity got the better of me, and I had to see if it had been used in the past. there were no files on it, except for the one I’d recorded above, so I opened the device in a hex editor. All of the sectors appear to have been used, so that would suggest there was something on there. A quick run through an undelete utility, and voila!

I’ve had a listen, and this definitely did belong to someone else in the past. It has someone singing for a couple of the files, and also two 3-hour long recordings of music, probably taken from a radio at the other side of the room, or something. All of these sound like they’re possibly Chinese.

Just a look at the waveform shows this probably isn’t a great device for making sonically accurate recordings…

I’m assuming these were taken with the built-in microphone. It has an external socket for a microphone too, so you never know, that might be better… judging by the quality of the headphones, I suspect not, but it’s worth a look.

Overall, a successful day out