my girlfirend has a whole bunch of those mini altoid tins. i've been begging her for a while to give me one to mess around with, but no luck yet. she's been asking me to build a simple L-R ambient signal circuit into to one, but it doesn't seem interesting enough to bother with.
the amount of time it takes to actually build one really depends on the person building. the first one i did took a while (about 2 hours soldering junk haphazardly, and a few weeks looking for dead 9v batteries, and a day trying to figure out how to open the battery without messing up the case) because i had to wait around looking for an appropriate 9v case, and because i had no idea as to how i was going to do the layout.
the second one i built was very quick. about an hour all together. i came up with a good layout, game plan, i had and had all the parts beforehand.
it's very simple circuit, and a pretty easy build. good luck.