RIO Redbox

Converting A Diamond RIO PMP300 into a Redbox

By RenderMan

The construction, possession, and/or operation of this device may be a criminal offence. Don't do it. This information is presented because it is common and readily available.

This article is based on a Canadian Perspective, with some US info, but the procedures are Canadian. There need to be more Canadian articles in 2600 dammit.


If you are one of the MP3 lovers out there that own a Diamond RIO (gotta love these things) or any other MP3 player, you can easily convert them to a nice Redbox for free calls and as a replacement for that damned annoying HOLD MUSIC!


1. Get a hold of a Diamond RIO PMP300, easy enough if you've got the money. (They ain't cheap, but they are worth it just for the mp3 part.)

2. Get the tones. In Canada you need to generate Canadian N-ACTS tones, and in the US you need to use American ACTS tones. Use a program like Cool Edit ( to generate the tones. Here are the tones you need to make:

N-ACTS (Canadian):
Nickel - 2200hz 0.06s on
Dime - 2200hz 0.06s on, 0.06s off, twice repeating
Quarter - 2200hz 33ms on, 33ms off, 5 times repeating

ACTS (American):
Nickel - 1700+2200hz 0.060s on
Dime - 1700+2200hz 0.060s on, 0.060s off, twice repeating
Quarter - 1700+2200hz 33ms on, 33ms off, 5 times repeating

(5 times, as in "on, off, on, off, on, off, on, off, on")

3. Convert the tones to Mp3's. At this time, the most lean and clean program I've found is the FhG Mpeg Layer-3 Producer from Opticom ( it allows you to encode any Windows PCM wav file. Encode the tones at the highest rate you can, usually 128kBits/s and 44,100Hz Stereo. This limits any distortion that the encoding may cause (anything lower and the tones are useless). They take less than a second to encode on a decent processor.

4. Load the RIO. Use whatever software you use to load your RIO up. Make sure you remember which track was which coin.

5. Outputting the tones. This is pretty much open for you to do yourselves. You just need a speaker with a high enough fidelity and a decent output. A prefab speaker from radio shack can work, or you can modify a PC speaker or something with a Mini-din connector to hook into the RIO. The choice is up to you. I found that a prefab, 2", battery amplified portable speaker works quite well, and doesn't look to conspicuous if you're searched. Just a jumble of wires and speakers McGyvered together.

6. Using your Rio Redbox.

Long distance

1. Dial a long distance number.
2. You will be connected with an electronic or human operator telling you how much money to deposit. Insert $.05, Hold the RIOBox speaker up to the phones mouthpiece and play the required number of tones. Don't be afraid of putting in a few cents worth extra, redboxing doesn't need exact change.
3. When more money is required, play more tones into the mouthpiece.

Local Calls

1. Dial information or an operator and ask them to place your call for you. If they ask why, come up with a unique excuse.
2. She will ask for money. Insert 5 cents first and then use your RIOBox. This prevents the operator from "seeing" that you are using a RIOBox. This may or may not be necessary. Experiment.

International Calls

1. Dial an international phone number.
2. An operator will ask for money. Insert a real 5 cents first and then use your RIOBox. This prevents the operator from "seeing" that you are using a RIOBox. This may or may not be necessary. Experiment.
3. When more money is required play more tones into the mouthpiece.

Notes and suggestions:

A suggestion is to insert a second of silence before and after the tone so you have time to hit the stop button so the RIO doesn't blow through all the tones in 2 seconds. This also gives you a chance to randomize the "coins" your inserting, so as not to alert any powers that be.

Another would be to pickup a small 2-4 Meg smartmedia card for storing these. That way you can keep the tones hidden, but easily accessible. Plus the card can be destroyed quickly in case of trouble and you'll be left with a nice (legal) RIO.

You may also want to mix (with random time between coins) preset amounts, like $2.50 or $3.95 and have them on a separate track for convenience sake, especially if you know before hand how much it's gonna cost.

For more info on redboxing in Canada, check out cyb0rg/asm's article @, much of this article was borrowed from his article.

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