There are lots of sites offering ringtone and other cell phone downloads, but they seemed a little shady and didn't have ringtones that I wanted - essentially ones from my MP3 collection. I made my way over to CNET.com's download and shareware pages and found plenty of make-your-own ringtone programs. Their trial versions had some limitations, but one program, Xingtone, seemed like it might be worth the $20 if the trial went well. Like many programs, it lets you send as many of your own ringtones to your phone after paying for the program.
Thanks to overresearching the idea of make-your-own ringtones, I came across PC Magazine's roundup of such programs. It reviewed a site called Mobile 17 that'll convert your song files (WAV and MP3) into ringtones for free. It's downside is you have to either cut the segment yourself or tell the site when to start the ringtone and your file isn't always immediately ready for download. However, if you can get around these issues that I think are minor, it's a great site because it's free and it works. Granted the pay programs help you edit and upload your pictures through them, I'd rather save the cash for other frivolous things.
After the simple registration, you receive a code in your email to verify your account and you're off. Once you know your song, you'll need to figure out where you want the ringtone to start and end. The apparent greatness of making your own is that it's your choice instead of Cingular's or wherever you'd get the ringtone otherwise. Do you only want the chorus or maybe some select lyrics? The choice is up to you. Since I'll hear the ringtone more than anyone else, I want to be as precise as possible with the start and end points and don't want to leave it up to the website. I never tried leaving it up to Mobile 17 to cut the segment so this is really an excuse to do some more computer fiddling.
I went to your soon to be favorite software/shareware repositories found on the CNET.com network: download.com and shareware.com. Shareware.com is free while download.com software usually has some limitations but offers higher quality programs. Anyway, after downloading quite a few programs, I've settled on one called Audacity. It's only 2.3 MB, fully functional, and free. After opening your file, just highlight what you want to cut and press delete. It should be noted that you can't delete any of the file if the top control buttons are selected so you can't pause and delete for example. After you've cut the sound file to only what your entire ringtone will be, you're ready to upload it to Mobile 17. Again, I think you're better off uploading the exact part of the ringtone you want instead of just telling Mobile 17 when to start and stop.
Since you've already registered, just upload the file and leave the start point at "0 min 0 secs". I set the ringtone length to a few seconds longer than the actual file just to play it safe. You'll be given a wait time after which you just enter the URL in your cell and follow the directions to download the file. I chose the first MP3 file from the list, saved it, and made it my ringtone as desired. Depending on the number of users, you might have to wait 20 minutes before visiting the URL, but it's worth the wait. Enjoy your free ringtone.