Unconventional Use for iPod Mini (Help!)

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R.Squirrel

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Sorry for the extensive detail, but without the background, my questions would not make much sense.

I have a very realistic looking electric fireplace, but without the sound of a crackling fire, the illusion is not quite complete. I’ve extracted a 110-Mb/2-hour mp3 from a video of a wood-burning fireplace, and hope to be able to add the appropriate sound effects.
I plan to configure a 1ST generation 4-Gb iPod Mini and an Altec Lansing inMotion iPod dock (iMmini) to make this happen.
My objective is to utilize the iPod to play the mp3 through the dock’s built-in speakers, so that the system will produce crackling fire sounds on command, when the fireplace “flame” is visible. I am aware that there are after-market “crackling fire” sound devices, but their reviews are less than stellar.

Here are the knowns:
  1. The dock’s power switch is the maintained-contact type, so the dock will be powered automatically whenever its AC adapter (9vdc out) is powered on.
  2. The iPod will be permanently interfaced with the iPod dock (i.e. mounted onto the 30-pin dock connector).
  3. When powered via its AC adapter, the dock automatically charges the iPod, which means that iPod power should be always be present when the AC adapter is powered.
  4. Via voice-command, an Alexa-enabled Smart Plug will apply power to the dock’s AC adapter.
  5. Except for the 2-hour mp3, no other files will be added to the iPod (any necessary firmware components will be retained, if I can identify the bare minimum requirements). I prefer not to use iTunes (see Q3), but will if that’s the best option. My PC’s operating system is Windows 10 Professional 64-bit.
Here are questions to address my unknowns:
In reading through the iPod User Manual, there don’t seem to be any user controls or settings that address to how I want to use the iPod. So, the first question relates to the requirement for there to be no additional human interaction required to start playing the mp3 when power is applied to the iPod dock (i.e. no need to press buttons on the iPod).
Q1. What settings are required and/or what physical circuitry alterations can be made to the iPod to automatically start/play the mp3?

The second question relates to the requirement for the mp3 to play continuously (loop) when it (re)starts.
Q2. What settings are required and/or what physical circuitry alterations can be made to the iPod such that the mp3 will play continuously and repeat automatically? There’s a ‘Shuffle Songs’ setting in the MENU, which I am guessing might serve this requirement. Since the sound is essentially random and non-repeating, starting over after each restart is an acceptable condition.

The third set of questions relate to known No. 5, above. I would like to purge and/or replace the software on the iPod as much as possible to simplify the system. I have stumbled upon the Rockbox replacement firmware, and it looks to have possibilities. For reference, in case it’s relevant, the attached “iPod Tree.pdf” represents the iPod’s current folder-file tree.
Q3. Would replacing the iPod firmware with Rockbox 3.14 get me closer to my objective?
Assuming that I stay with iTunes:
Q4. Which, if any of the above folders and/or files (e.g. F01, F02, . . .) can I delete?
Q5. Other than the .mp3 are there any files I should add (e.g. third-party software, etc.)?
Q6. After the Q3 files and/or folders are deleted (if any), where should the .mp3 be placed (e.g. F00, or other)?

I have no qualms regarding iPod disassembly, soldering, etc.; I just wouldn’t be capable of hacking the iPod on my own, without help from those of you with specific expertise. I have some experience with software/firmware installations, but none with from-scratch Linux or other programming solutions. In other words, I can follow a cookbook approach, I just can’t develop the recipe myself.
 

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cjmnews

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Q1: The iPod should not need to be altered as the power applied to the dock should power the iPod and if it was in play mode when it lost power, should play again. I have a couple of concerns here. A. Old iPod and old battery - if this thing is powered off too long there are 2 possible consequences. 24 hours off, the iPod will go to sleep and lose the play mode, and do nothing when powered. Long time off, battery dies, and it will take 1-30 minutes before a minimum charge would be obtained before playback can be started again. Alarm clocks get around this by powering the iPod always, and when the alarm sounds or power to the play mode is enabled, the iPod plays via a control in the 30 pin adapter.

Q2: The iPod already has a loop mode, just set it to loop the 1 track.

Q3: Rockbox might be able to help, but it would probably be the same as the standard iPod firmware.

Q4: Don't delete any of them. They are part of the firmware. The iPod does not function without them.

Q5: The iPod is capable of doing this without 3rd party firmware

Q6: iTunes will put the file in one of the F0x folders and rename it to 4 characters and extension (FNRM.mp3). You will see it in the menus on the screen. Manually adding files to the iPod will fail to be recognized.

I think you might have an easier time interfacing a Raspberry Pi with Alexa or just make your own voice activated player with the Raspberry Pi and a speaker.
 

R.Squirrel

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Hi cjmnews,

Thanks so much for you prompt and thorough reply. Your answers have far exceeded my expectations - I anticipated having to do some physical modifications. As for the battery, I believe it was replaced when I bought it off of Ebay - if not, I will put that on my list of things to do. The 24-hour feature is a concern. We can't consistently wake it up every day, and unless there's a grace period (i.e. 24+ before sleep) it would require close monitoring. The Smart Plug App does include a daily off-on program feature. Maybe Rockbox can defeat the 24-hour sleep mode - I'll do some more research.
 
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