HowTo: External Winamp Control

Nowadays, Winamp has full support to keyboard shortcuts. But some time ago, when Winamp didn’t have this feature, I was thinking of a way I could change the music just by pressing one button, it would make it faster and easier to change songs, especially during games. So I decided to make an external control to it. I found one Winamp plugin that shows how to configure an external control using the Serial Port, being able to make 4 or 15 buttons control. I decided to make this, step-by-step, how to do it, hope you enjoy.


  • 4 push-buttons
  • SERIAL connector
  • Connector Box
  • Cable

Necessary tools:

  • Soldering iron and accessories

You can put the buttons wherever you want, I decided to put mine in an old diskbox.
I decided to use a network cable to connect the Serial connector to the buttons, because it’s easier to organize and makes the work simpler and faster.

The schematic:

Making the control:

  • Looking at the schematic, we see that we have to connect one side of each button to a cable, these will be soldered in pin number 4.
  • After soldering to one side of each button, you must then connect the other side with a cable that goes to the pins of the serial. Now it is important that they are connected with the indicated pins (Just follow the schematic) .
    Here you can see a picture of my work until now.

Configuring the Software

    The software I used on this was COM-port Winamp Control V.1.42.

  • You must set the COM port you are using. Usually normal computers have 2 ports, so just select the one you plugged the control in.
  • Select the number of buttons your control has. (In this HowTo, I chose “4 buttons”)
  • Now you must remap the buttons. This where you’ll see if everything is working. If you are able to remap all the buttons, congrats, it’s working!!
  • The last step, you have to configure what you want the buttons to do. This can be found in the “WINAMP” of the program. There you can set up many different options, like Volume Up, Volume Down, Next Song, Previous Song.
  • One cool thing is “Type:”, where you can configure the way you want the buttons to respond.
  • Click: Just one click to make it work. Can work with one or double-click.
  • Down/Up: This will activate the option when you press and a different one when you release the button.
  • Turbo: Here you can configure the options for holding the button, usually used for Volume Up and Down.
  • Clicks + Turbo: You can configure “Clicks” and “Turbo” Option at the same time
  • Clicks + Hold: You can configure “Clicks” and “Hold” Option at the same time

In the end, I put the buttons in the disk case and these are the results:

I don’t know if I was clear enough in this HowTo, I will re-check this in some time.
If you liked this, have any correction or advice, please leave a comment! 😉


  1. this guy actually pulled it off …
    not the best looking controls but they do the job ( i guess ) I still like the idea of using an actual remote better. Plus it saves you a lot of time looks cooler and it really doesn’t cost that much more.

    But that’s just me.

  2. I use a AutoHotKey, WinLIRC, and a universal remote to control several apps on my computer, including Winamp. Yeah, remote controls are better.

  3. Yes, I belive its better to have a remote control for winamp and other windows stuff. But at the time I did this, I just wanted to change music while playing games.

  4. Well, this could be used very nicely with Car MP3 computers. Would be nicer to just have the buttons you KNOW you need then to have to find them on a big IR control with a number pad and some more buttons. :S

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  6. This is perfect! I was looking for a way to change song and volume on my antique radio/MP3 player project. I wanted to still use the antique knobs to do it, and this will work.

  7. That’s cool. Now I can build a volume up/down, pause/play and next song controller, and see if I can hide the buttons near the bed, that way I can control the music without going all the way to the computer. 🙂 (I think soft buttons in the corner of the matress would be taking it way to far though… Still thinking…)

  8. You should put an ethernet keystone jack in the back of the plastic case and crimp a connector on the end of the cable, then you can plug it into the back of the plastic case. Then you can make yourself a longer cable or put in an extension, whatever, without having to resolder the switches.

    Very cool hack though.

  9. imegabyte, have never seen your site before, but looks quite similar to my project! I was looking, i’ve made this more than 2years ago. 🙂
    By the way, nice project you have there!

  10. hello i just wanted to say to both Pasteler and imegabyte, nice sites

    I wanted to ask though, i’m gonna use a 25pin cable but i was wondering how would it be wired for 6 bottons? i was thinking to wire it like this

    but im not sure to which pin i would connect the 2 added bottons? then for the com program i was thinking to set it up for 15 bottons.
    if anyone can help me please mail me at

  11. Good write up. I’ve actually done this twice (using the same plugin) and it works really well. For my carputer I rigged 3 buttons underneath the change slots in my car and ran them to the trunk. All this to say, it does work, and it works rather well.

  12. I tried doing this using a USB to Serial adapter because my laptop doesn’t have any serial ports. But it doesn’t work. The program detects the COM port that i assign it. But the buttons don’t get detected when I press them.

  13. I have having very hard time getting the buttons to work. I have my led lit up and everything. soddered the buttons and nothing. Now do i hafta screw a screw inthe box or something metal for ground or what? I have the led light up. now on the led u have positive and negative right? If not please help me! Thanks. also when i push one of the buttons the light goes off. what did i do wrong and do i hafta run the same wire to all buttons for ground? or how do i do the ground part of it? thanx for your help. You can contact me on aim at KAINRC thanks

  14. #35 – quang – I think that the usb-serial converter won’t work in this application because this application uses a non-standard way of using the serial port. The usb-serial converter emulates only certain functions of the serial port. If you do get it to work somehow please post how you did it, thanks!

  15. I’ve got a small LCD display which I use for winamp, news feeds, that kind of thing. What I needed was some buttons for it – thanks!

  16. I don’t understand how to use more than 4 buttons? could someone please help me on that? where do I wire the other buttons to?

    could project

  17. does everyone have to write a post on how much better IR is, geezus… anyway he probably just wants to change tracks whilst playing games or some kind of fullscreen app

  18. I actually have a small 200MHz computer that I’ll be putting into my car to play MP3s. This comm-port keypad will allow me to control the volume and play functions remotely. I plan on using and old TV remote arrow buttons for the actual buttons to give it a softer feel.

    thanx for the site

  19. nice work… went out and prought the pieces today. i am building it now and have dug up an old floppy holding case basicaly the same as yours lol
    thanks heaps.


  20. Dano, the ground pin the the 4th, you connect one leg of all buttons together in this pin.
    For example, button one, connects to pin 9 and 4, button two connects to pin 8 and 4, and so on.

  21. if you work long enouph you can build the 15 button model that uses infra-red led’s and a reciever, it took us 2 years but we made a credit card size wireless remote and reciever using the schematic provided in the program used in this tutorial, it works very well and it a plausable build for medium grade skills

  22. Hello, no don’t got anyone and I’m not going to buy one if no one have got it to work 🙁 It’s bad beacuse my laptop dosen’t got any com 🙁 F*cking Ibm 🙂

  23. Having previously built an 8-LED display for the LPT port, i remember being specifically told that not using resistors on the LED’s would (likley) overdraw the port and fry that part of your motherboard. Having said that LPT is com’s fat ugly cousin, so why wont this fry a com aswell?

    If I build one of these and it frys my 433’s com bus i am gonna be pissed, unless its spectacular or something – lights the house on fire etc.

  24. Hey,

    i got the 4 button remote built and it is rather Sweet!!! now i want to build the 15 but i am a little on the slow side and i needed the print out of the 4 button so if you could publish or send me the picture of the 15 button diagram i would REALY like that A LOT

    Thank you much!!!

  25. hi this is just what i need.

    im building a laptop into and old CDplayer case for the original front pannel.

    what would be great is primary and secondary leds have repeat and shuffle triggers. so you know its on shuffle or repeat.


  26. Very Nice. I like this tutorial 😀
    Since i have no Bluetooth adapter for my Symbian phone i built this. (the ultra-cheap version :D)

    I used an old MC-Case and 4 different colored buttons (I already had them in my room and I was too lazy to run to Conrad and buy some new same-colored buttons^^). I left the paper in the box because IMO its looking much better than with a transparent ground.
    The two LEDs (also lying around in my room*g*) are fixed with Tesa (clear scotch tape??) in the
    center of the case.

    The next thing i will do is using blue/white or one multicolor LED instead of those lame-looking green and yellow LEDs.

    You can find photos here:

    Greetings from Germany

  27. hello, peepz

    nice article. I was wondering if it is possible to do this but with only 3 buttons ? .. im short on long distance wire :P.

  28. Nice project, made one to…

    I like the remote because you do have to see wath you are doing, the monitor of my computer is most of the time off.
    4 buttons is all I need…

  29. I know everyone here uses Winamp, but I am a Windows Media Player lover and I really like your idea, I’ve been wanting to put some built-in media buttons on my computer case. Is there any way I can use this with Windows Media Player?

  30. I’m very interested in using your device in a community center I work at. We need to create a way of controling several sessions of WinAmp at the same time. We need to control when each session of winamp plays it’s file. I don’t need to change files, in any of the sessions except the first. We are running 5 sessions of WinAmp on the same PC with XP Pro. Can we have a switch device control each or the sessions, only to trigger the file play in the 4 and to change to the next file in a library for the last session, via say, switches? Say if I’m running 9 sessions of WinAmp at the same time, can I control the playing of their pre-selected files via the switchs, and your program?

    I don’t get paid at the center, it’s my volunteer work, and I’m trying to help them put together a Halloween Scare House.

    Michael Forte
    Easton Community Center

  31. Hey michael, sorry,
    I’m not sure how to do this using this scheme. But why do you need to use so many Winamp programs at the same time? If you’re trying to put many different sound at the same time, you could use some program like Sound Forge and join all together and using a loop to make the music repeats.

  32. A much metter way of controlling your music player is using a cheap gamepad: I use a 10 button Logitech gamepad to control XMMS (GNU/Linux/UNIX equivalent of Winamp).

  33. pasteler0,
    Thank you for this tutorial and schematics. I found an old 4 button remote control at a surplus store yesterday and hacked it today for this purpose. It works perfectly for my needs.

    I did have one difficulty – interpreting what you meant by “pins assignment while watching the port from the outside”. The pin numbers you have marked off are actually a standard – if you look at the front of a db9f connector, the pin numbers are exact to your schematic. The wording “pins assignment…” made me think that I had to look at the front of a db9m connector, meaning my db9f would be a mirror image. This is not the case. I suggest you simply remove the words as the diagram is perfect.

    Thanks again, this is VERY cool.

  34. I built a quite nice looking remote using the instructions provided, and it works great.

    Pics here:

    After I confirmed that it was working, I took it out of my serial port, and plugged it into my USB->Serial Adapter, and it worked great. No configuration changes required (other than the COM port setting). I do not understand why everyone else was having problems.

    — Jason

  35. Well done Jason! I haven’t tried to use a USB -> Serial yet, but it’s good to know that it works! I think if someone is having problems may be because they didn’t configure right. 🙂

    Thanks for sharing this with us!

  36. thx! i have just made mine ^_^ but got no pic of it yet hehe

    how do i config second led? thx again!!

  37. Hello! I’m Argentinean, and i don´t know speek or write english well… so i´m sorry…
    I need change the buttons (The green buttons) for any electronic circuit because i’m doing a remote control for winamp. I don´t know how make it… if anyone can help me!!!! thank you… and sorry if you can´t understand me!!!!

  38. What do you do with pin 2 and 3? Is it possible to use them to add two more buttons? It would be great if there was a way to setup for play/pause, stop, forward, back, volume up and volume down.

    Alternatively is it possible to set one button something like a ‘shift’ button and have the mapping ‘1’, ‘2’, ‘3’, ‘shift+1’, ‘shift+2’, ‘shift+3’?

  39. I made one of these a few years ago in an Altoids tin, and came here looking for a USB solution for my new netbook. No joy there.

    Gonazar: There is a double tap option so you can program 8 functions, IIRC. I always had a little trouble with it though.

  40. When i install the plugin there is a error:
    Couldn’t open the file:
    C:\Program Files(x86)\Winamp\Plugins\COMctrl.exe
    for writing.

    My System:
    Win 7 x64

    Can somebody help me?
    Sorry for my english i am from Germany

    1. Got the same issue, with windows 7

      I can’t get the software to show me the interface, it is running in the task manager, but can’t see it on task bar!!!

      Please help us…

  41. When i install the plugin there is a error:
    Couldn’t open the file:
    C:Program Files(x86)WinampPluginsCOMctrl.exe

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