Hey all, this is one of my first instructables so please critique but be nice!
Anyways, recently I've found I have a need for some portable speakers, but I don't use an Ipod so I needed something that could be used by any mp3 player. So I came up with my own design and built it, since I was surprised at how well this turned out, I decided to post it. This instructable requires parts not necessarily found all over the place or at home, but I'm sure you can improvise. this project is actually quite simple and requires beginner level soldering and drilling.
**Warning, this instuctable suggests using relatively dangerous hand tools, don't be stupid, be smart and be safe.**
**EDIT** some people may comment on this but the comparison in the title is based on the many crappy ipod speakers out there. Also the picture below is not a set of ipod speakers, just a pair i had kicking around, which also happen to suck.
Step 1: Materials
- One metal mint box, this one conveniently had this plastic cover over the mints, kinda fancy in my opinion. $4 (including the mints, though in reflection, they weren't that great XP.)
- One headphone jack 3.5mm, free, I cut it off a really old pair I think I may have gotten free from an airline one trip.) **note if you are doing dual speakers and would like your stereo feature (though it won't really matter too much) get a 3.5mm jack with stereo (you can tell because it has three sections on the metal bit). But like I said it doesn't really matter too much so feel free to get mono, but I will assume stereo.
- Finally most importantly, a pair of (or at least one if you can't get your hands on two) laptop speakers. Now these were free since I ripped them out of a really old CTX Ezbook 700 series (discontinued but still kicking around places) This one was running Windows 98, (not anymore! >D)
- Drill, I used hand held but I'm sure you would get better results from a drill press. 1/16 drill bit
- Dremel with a sanding bit or similar machine
- Soldering iron with solder
- Exacto knife if your's has this nice plastic cover like mine
- Electrical tape, to me it's more of a tool, for this project you only need a bit.
I can't say too much on cost since I scrounged up most of the stuff, really all I bought were the mints and actually for the mints. I had the speakers on hand and picked this case out as the best and in the end it worked out great. I'm not totally sure where you can even get this mints since I found them in a candy shop in Whistler, Canada on a trip.
Here's their website though which I googled and found them to be from Denmark
Step 2: Remove Mints and Plastic and Drill a Bunch of Holes
For my design I wanted the speakers to face out, the other option was to face in but I found that the speakers themselves had strong enough magnets on the front that they could stick to the metal tin without any sort of adhesive. With that in mind I drilled 16 holes per speaker, 32 total.
First trace the speaker on the front of the tin to get the general area you want the holes. I drilled stepwise, so top bottom left and right, then in between each one then in between each one of those again except this time a little inwards to create two circles of holes. Observe pictures, they will help.
Sorry for lacking photos of this process though, but in the one below you can faintly see the trace still on there.
Again, only if you are following my design, you will need to sand down the metal shards sticking out from drilling. These little bits get in the way of the speakers and might damage it. Just FYI dremels are dangerously fast machines, safety is a first. To be honest it totally freaked me out first time I turned it on, earplugs may be recommended too since I was partially deaf after using it.
You will also need to cut two holes in the corner of the plastic for the speaker wires. An Exacto knife works fine, but for some reason this brand made the plastic cover abnormally thick, so be careful not to cut yourself.
Step 3: Assemble and Solder
This step is fairly easy, simply thread all three wires through the holes in the plastic, or tape/glue them to the tin if you didn't have a plastic cover. And solder all 2 - 4 points. Generic stereo jacks from headphones have two wires, and two more in each one. (I'm not much of an electronic savvy guy so I'll let other people correct me here) The non insulated inner wire is ground and the insulated one is the power supplying one. I've found that it doesn't matter which one goes where on simple speakers (by testing normal and reverse connections) so solder away.
*Side note, if you haven't already, any sort of computer speaker usually comes with a little plastic end that helps connect the wires to the pins on the motherboard. You can take this off by using an Exacto knife or pin to press down the locks on one side of the plastic end and pull individual wires out. Unfortunately these things are rather small, especially on two wire pin connections and coming from a laptop. My camera was unable to take a photo of these little things (even with macro).
Step 4: Snapping It All Together
The plastic cover on mine just covers the top so when I push it in I can compress the wires and get more space in between the cover and the top of the tin. This is particularly important since it gives space for the speakers and the jack to fit inside and close neatly.
It all snaps together pretty well and the speakers are magnetically attached to the top of the tin. For those who will probably ask, no they're not that strong so they won't wipe a credit/bank card unless you swipe it right next to the thing, then you're just stupid. However they are strong enough to stick fairly well to the tin, even when they do fall off for some reason they're still attached by the wires which are secured underneath the cover.
Step 5: Listen and Enjoy, Additional Concepts
Personally I like to do the standing up method as seen in the first photo, since the jack can move freely I just stick my mp3 player next to it. Mine are quite loud, decent enough to hear from one room to the next, I've yet to test it in loud/public areas though but I will update later when I get my new mp3 player next month. As far as sucking battery life, I haven't really noticed any difference to say, using a pair of headphones.
Some additional concepts I was thinking about earlier are here:
- Fold open speakers, speakers facing inward and open up to listen to.
- Permanent jack attached to some part of the tin. I have a long type mp3 player with the jack at one end, so if I put the jack sticking out of the back the mp3 player could act like a stand. Alternatively I could put it on the side and achieve a similar affect with a right angle jack like the one I used.
Most of the ideas here were discarded because they weren't as feasible or appealing. I wanted a retractable jack and the speakers needed longer wires to fold open properly. Perhaps one of these designs might be better suited for whichever tin or jacks you use.