I posted this somewhere else before, but anyone that wants to open one of the travel remotes here are my tips.
For the remote itself:
There is a slider at the top of it that locks the controls. Stick a flat-head screwdriver in there and rotate to pry it open. From there everything inside pops out. You can put everything back and the remote will snap back together fine. I tortured the first one i opened and it went back together without issue.
I gave up on figuring out what on the remote board was doing the important work. So, other than curiosity there should not be any reason to open it.
The dock connector:
Seems to be the same for all zune connectors. You can see them all taken apart on sites that sell just the connector. There are two plastic buttons on the side of the connector that can be pulled out... more or less without damaging them. Use a thumbtack or anything small enough to get between the button and connector and pry the button up and out. After the buttons are out of the way the whole connector sliders out from the plastic casing. Once the frame is out the casing comes apart. It is pretty straightforward from there to open the metal frame and look directly at the connector pins and wires. Once you are done in there the metal frame snaps back closed and you can snap the casing back together onto it (i used a soft hammer to get it all the way back into the casing). Putting the side buttons back in locks everything in place.
For the simplest line out though I would leave the remote and connector alone and either cut the cable in two or cut into the cable and only cut the audio lines.
There is a black outer PVC insulator, braided metallic shield with a stranded ground wire in it , five colored wires for the remote, and 2 colored wires individually wrapped in foil with a metallic braided shield. The line-out will come out on the white and orange wires inside the foiled lines. The braided shields of the foiled wires and main wire recombine at the dock connector and remote into the thick black wire.
If you cut all the lines it is a little tedious to work with the tiny wires. I think they are stranded 30 gauge. I had best results re-connecting all the remote cables back to each other after cutting through the line. I believe one or two of them are not needed, but their absence caused other issues (noise plugging in zune and unplugging). Once you have the two audio lines out you can connect them to RCA jacks or your interconnect of choice. Use either the main shielded braid or the individual braid for the ground.
The smallest setup would probably be cutting the cable to shorten it and create a 'Y' off the dock connector. One side goes to the remote and the other has the 2 audio lines (and their braid for a ground) into a 3.5mm plug. I'd probably heat-shrink or electrical tape the audio lines to the main cable and remote to avoid damaging them as they are a little small to support the weight of a nice 3.5mm jack.
The travel remote I believe is the only non-powered device that activates the Zune line out.
The only powered device that activates line out that i know of is the discontinued soundgate 'core' kit.
All the microsoft docks with a remote are USB powered and have a remote that controls volume on the zune, which indicates they don't do line-out even though they send audio out of the dock connector.
The new Zune HD dock has HDMI and optical out, which might send a line out signal? I havn't seen users comment on this. I know the docks work with older zune, but not sure if those ports work with older Zunes and what signal they send out. The dock might work with my receiver, but I would need to buy/build a DAC (AMB Y1) to use with the optical out on the dock and my headphone amp. I'll save the DAC and HD dock for another day.
The cheaper option for today is the soundgate 'core' kit at around $30. User comments/reviews on it indicated it disabled the audio control on the zune allowing them to plug it into their car without having to adjust the zune volume (indicates a true line out). I have ordered a SoundGate Core 'ZNCBLPAK' and their AC adapter 'PWRCORE' to connect it at home. It will probably come in a week or two. My car has a 3.5mm aux in, so worst case i have a nice Zune accessory for my car ;)
Man what a hobby... If the sound works well through the soundgate I will use it with my home headphone amp and probably get a second one for the car. Then work on making a compact Line out using a travel remote and maybe build a portable amp. Or build a dac and use my laptop as a source for my home setup.
Edited by peppe - 7/31/10 at 3:09pm