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iPod and iTunes Hacks by Hadley Stern

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Turn Your iPod Mini into a Radio Station

Turn your iPod mini into a mini radio broadcaster.

With an iPod, you have in your hands a ton of music. Ever wanted to be a DJ at a radio station? Just add an FM broadcaster (the iTrip mini) to your iPod and, with a little hackery, you can be broadcasting your own little local-area radio station.

Here’s what you’ll need for this hack:

  • An iPod mini

  • An iTrip mini

  • Additional iPods, iTalks, and iTrips (all optional)

Getting Started

To become your own pirate broadcast station, you’ll first need to increase the range and signal of your iTrip mini. It’s not obvious, but there is an antenna built inside the iTrip mini. All you need to do is remove the top sticker-like protective covering that hides the antenna and then, using tweezers or your fingernails, pull out the antenna. I’ve found that this produces a 20% to 30% increase of range, on average. Be warned, though, that this likely voids the warranty.

The iTrip mini allows you to install and broadcast to all the stations on the dial. Make sure you’ve installed all the stations, because when you’re on the go you might need to be able to switch to other options. Remember, the iTrip is an FM broadcasting device, intended to broadcast 10 to 30 feet to an FM radio.

Next, choose your broadcast. It can be any song or a spoken-word MP3; don’t worry, I have a few suggestions. A lot depends on the situation you’re in.

Pirate Broadcasts

I usually keep a couple tracks of silence or calming music ready to go. Ever get stuck at a stop light for 10 minutes with the dude in the next car blasting a song you hate on the radio? With the super-easy iPod interface, you can quickly get to the station he’s on and send over whatever you want. Gentle ocean waves or birdsong usually works well.

Warning

While many of the suggestions in this hack are for pure fun, please make sure to check with your state laws regarding radio frequency use.

Another great use of this hack is at a street party. Place your iPod mini on your lawn, and broadcast to any boom box within 10–30 feet. Suddenly, your neighborhood is alive with music, all from your iPod mini. Inside your house, walk from room to room with your iPod mini and antenna and, as long as your boom boxes or stereos in each room are on and set to the correct frequency, music will follow you around the house. For more on music through-out your house, check out “Stream Music with AirPort Express” [Hack #26] .

If you’ve ever gone to the gym, or stared into one from the outside, you may have noticed that the TVs are muted and set to broadcast on specific FM frequencies. Folks then tune in their radio headsets to whatever stations they like to listen to as they exercise. Now, we’re not suggesting you go around and broadcast over CNN or anything, but we think broadcasting “Aliens have landed today; the President and UN will be making an announcement immediately” could be quite fun.

There are other times where you simply need to broadcast back. Let’s say you’re at the park, enjoying a nice quiet day with your family, and then someone comes along blasting the radio. We’ve found broadcasting a silent track tends to work nicely; sure, you need to be within 30 to 40 feet of the offender, but no one will even suspect that you’re usurping their FM broadcast.

Advanced Broadcasting Techniques

If you use the iTalk (Griffin’s voice recorder accessory) with a G2, G3, or G4 iPod, you can record your pirate broadcast on the fly. Simply pop in the iTrip and start broadcasting. Pretending to be an omnipotent being and asking folks to build a waterproof car and drive across the English Channel carrying two of every gadget usually gets some interesting reactions.

Phillip Torrone

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