I've seen so many amazing Altoids tin speaker builds out there, both on Instructables and elsewhere and I wanted to try my hand at one too! This project uses two tins (one for the amplifier circuit, battery, charging circuit, switch and jacks, and another one just for the speakers). I wanted to use decent quality parts so I could get the best sound quality possible. That being said, you can definitely go to the store and get a pretty good quality mini speaker for a bit less than I spent on this project, but where's the fun in that? I decided not to integrate bluetooth into my amplifier. I have two iPods (one Classic and one 5th gen Nano), neither of which has bluetooth capability, so I just didn't have the necessity for it. That being said, if you would like to integrate bluetooth into your own, there is enough room for a module inside the amplifier tin behind the charge circuit board.
Here's a demo video on Youtube. I apologize for the poor quality as I was just using my digital camera. Sounds much better in person.
It actually turned out much better than I thought. Obviously it doesn't generate a ton of bass, but the volume it puts out is very surprising, given the size. In addition to being a nice portable stereo, it would also be a good fit if you want something that puts out a little more power than your built-in computer speakers, or even just to have some tunes in the kitchen while you cook dinner.
Supplies: (There are a ton of different parts out there that you can substitute, but these are just the parts that I used). There are a lot of great cheap parts on DX.com and they ship free to almost anywhere as well.
- Altoids or similar metal tins (x2)
- Female RCA panel mount jacks (x4)
- Male to male RCA couplers (x2) or L+R RCA cable
- Female 3.5mm panel mount jack
- Amplifier: http://www.adafruit.com/products/1552#tutorials
- Rechargeable lithium battery: http://www.adafruit.com/products/258#tutorials
- Lithium battery charger: http://www.adafruit.com/products/259#tutorials
- Switch: http://www.adafruit.com/products/482#tutorials
- Speakers (x2)
- Male to male 3.5mm aux cable
- Some cork (for lining the tin)
- Some foam (to insulate the speakers)
- Primer and paint (if you want to paint it)
- Rubber feet (for the tins)
* Adafruit has some really cool stuff for projects like this. The above links are all from Adafruit. I also got a 10% discount from my Pro membership, so keep that in mind too if you have a pro membership!
- Drill and various bits
- Metal file
- Glue (epoxy, hot glue gun, super glue, etc.)
- Soldering iron and solder
- Heat shrink tubing
- Thin gauge wire
- Needle-nose pliers
Let's get started!
EDIT: I ended up finding a solution for the speaker grilles. I added a step near the end.
Step 1: Plan Everything Out
*** Note: If you follow my schematic, don't go just by the colours as I had to use several colours more than once because I didn't have enough to do every wire a different colour. Also, if you have AutoCad, I've attached a .dwg file of the amp design. I'm just using a trial version, so I don't think I can .pdf it.
Step 2: Mark Your Tin
Step 3: Drill, Cut and File!
Step 4: Paint It
First, separate the lid from the bottom by gently bending the two hinge tabs at the rear. Next, sand off all of the original paint and clean it well. Then prime it and paint it. When it comes to priming and painting, less is more. Just do several light coats of each as opposed to one heavy coat or the paint will probably run. Hold the can 6 - 12" away from the surface you're painting and use fast sweeping motions to paint it. There are plenty of tutorials on the web as well if you need additional help.
Step 5: Line the Top and Bottom of Your Tin
*Note: I actually ended up just cutting pieces of cork the exact same size as my amp and charger because space was an issue and my cork was a bit more than 1/8" thick.
Step 6: Solder
There is also a helpful diagram here:
It's for a specific amp, but it should apply to most other amps as well.
Step 7: Secure All of Your Electronic Components and Put It All Together
Step 8: Speaker Tin
*I've attached a .dwg file from AutoCad of the speaker layout. I just have a trial version of AutoCad though, so it won't let me .pdf anything. Anyone can download a free 30 day trial though.
Step 9: Drill, File, Cut, Etc.
*Important: If you are using RCA couplers and not a cable, the distance between your RCA jacks and their height from the bottom of the tin is absolutely critical. Since the couplers are solid and won't flex, the spacing between the RCA jacks on both the amplifier tin and the speaker tin has to be exactly the same or the couplers won't connect. See the photos in the final step of the two tins connected together to get a better idea of what I mean.
Step 10: Paint It
Step 11: Line the Inside of Your Tin
Step 12: Mount and Solder Speakers and Jacks
My initial idea for speaker grilles were these dust covers (pictured), but they ended up taking up too much space inside the Altoids tin. The tins were just too small to accommodate these pieces as well as the speakers. If you are using a project box that is slightly larger than an Altoids tin, these would work great! I decided to show how I modded them just in case anyone wants to use something similar in their setup. The inside diameter of the dust covers was 45mm and my speaker outside diameter was 40mm, so they were basically perfect...Unfortunately, my speakers were 25mm deep and the Altoids tin is only 21mm deep, so I already had to mount them partially outside the tin which is fine, but just no room for grilles. This setup would work in an Altoids tin if you used speakers that are approximately 3/4" deep. Mine are closer to an inch and I did the math and figured if you used 3/4" depth speakers it would be viable.
I've been trying to think of something to use for the speaker grilles, but I just can't come up with anything. I thought of a 40mm computer fan guard, but the diameter of the circular part is actually less than 40mm. The only other thing I can think of at the moment is maybe to cut up an old stainless steel strainer and harvest the mesh from it. Anyone have any ideas?
Step 13: Add Insulation and Close Up Your Tin
Step 14: Speaker Grilles
Step 15: Finished!
The point of using the couplers instead of a cable is that when the two tins are attached via the couplers, they form a 90 degree angle and, in turn, become their own stand.
When you're not using it, you can store the male to male RCA couplers in one of the tins as well.
I've also ordered a cheap little cell phone stand off of eBay that will act as a speaker stand when you use RCA cables instead of the couplers. Will post a pic once it comes in the mail.
I am currently testing the battery run time at mid-level volume and will post when the battery finally dies.
I hope you enjoyed this instructable! Feel free to leave any questions, suggestions, comments or criticisms :)