Introduction: Bite-sized Boombox

Picture of Bite-sized Boombox

Have you ever been sitting on the bus, and thought, "Man, I'm looking way too cool"? Well you can turn all that around with the BoomBiteBox, the sound system that goes through your teeth!

This is one of my favorite mini-projects, and explores all sort of concepts in electro-magnetism. The most exciting of which are that motors can work like speakers and vibrating bones can work like ears. Pretty neat, huh? Let's make one!

The details:

  • What: BoomBiteBox!
  • Time: ~ 15 minutes
  • Cost: ~ $2 for supplies
  • Concepts: Sound, Resonance, Electro-Magnetism, AC / DC currents
  • Materials:
    • Two wires
    • Dowel (medium size)
    • Mono 1/8" Audio Jack
    • DC Motor 1.5-3V
  • Tools:
    • Wire Stripper
    • Soldering Iron + Solder
    • Drill w/ 1/16" drill bit
  • Additional: Some jams to play through it!

Step 1: Strip the Wire Ends

Picture of Strip the Wire Ends

Start with two pieces of wire. They can be any length, but I chose somewhere around 18" each. Strip off the plastic coating of each end, leaving about 1" of metal exposed on each of the four ends.

Step 2: Solder One End of Each Wire to Motor Tab

Picture of Solder One End of Each Wire to Motor Tab

Take one end of each of the two wires and solder it to either motor tab. You should have two wires unconnected, each of which has one end attached to the motor tab. Solder it up!

Step 3: Solder the Other Two Ends to the Audio Jack

Picture of Solder the Other Two Ends to the Audio Jack

Attach the two open ends of the wire and solder them to the two tabs on the audio jack. Make sure they don't touch, or the circuit will cut out.

Step 4: Drill a Hole in Dowel and Push on to Motor

Picture of Drill a Hole in Dowel and Push on to Motor

Before this step, your BoomBiteBox is already capable of resonating with music. The dowel makes for a great bite plate.

You'll want to use about a 1/16" drill bit, and drill out a tiny hole in the end of your dowel. Push the motor spindle in to the dowel hole for a tight fit.

Instead of the dowel, you can use all sorts of things! We've used cups, metal rods, paper clips, tables, paper cones, the works! Find out what's best.

Step 5: Bite for Boom and Enjoy!

Picture of Bite for Boom and Enjoy!

Look how happy Coby is listening to his BoomBiteBox. Awwww.

There are all sorts of experiments to do from here. You'll find that bass makes for better music, and that the volume depends on the power of the amp that is playing music in to it. Try it on phones, computers, sound systems, and see the difference. You'll also find that plugging your ears makes it work a lot better.

For design, if you're going to have lots of people try it out like in a classroom, choose a dowel which is small enough to fit a straw around. Or have each participant put plastic or a napkin over the dowel before biting.

With a powerful input, you can have someone plug one ear and their other ear will function as a speaker so other people can listen to their ear. Weird, huh? Resonance and hearing are amazing things. Check out this write-up of how hearing works for more.

Happy boombiting!


spike02 (author)2015-08-24

Will a stereo 1/8th inch plug work or does it have to be mono?

spike02 (author)2015-01-02

cant find the

  • Mono 1/8" Audio Jack

anywhere, can someone send me a link, and will this motor work?

alter2000 (author)spike022015-01-22

Just strip open a headphone jack with only 2 "poles" or solder the leads connected to the upper parts of a stereo jack together. I used this method, since I just couldn't find a proper mono jack. Hope I helped. Anyways, *heads to author* great 'ible!

Nrgdragon (author)2014-12-25

Where do you buy the dowel? I can't seem to find it online.

Could you please send me a link or address for a store?



GordonKirkwood (author)2014-12-21

this is wonderful! I especially like that, for a second person to share, they might best mash their ear up against your skull or ear.

When I'm playing cello in an orchestra with big brass behind me, as sometimes occurs, sometimes the only way to hear yourself play (closing the feedback loop is very critical for a fretless instrument like a cello!) is to plug one of the cello tuning pins into your ear, and get your intonation right by bone-conduction.

Also, a puzzle for your students: if you wear earplugs, do you think it makes you talk louder or softer?

Nrgdragon (author)GordonKirkwood2014-12-25

NanoRobotGeek (author)2014-12-19

One of the best instructables I've ever tried. It was easy to make and extremely fun and rewarding =D

NanoRobotGeek (author)2014-12-19

michael.suffern (author)2014-12-08

Word Confusion:"Jack" is actually a "Plug". A Mono plug in the photos.

Use a Stereo 1/8th inch mini-plug and add a motor, for two motors total, and wire it up in stereo. I believe you would 'hear' stereo if you listen to a stereo source. There would be crosstalk between channels as sound would travel the whole length of the dowel similar to the way sound from stereo speakers reaches both ears. Play an audio test recording to 'test' crosstalk & phase cancellation and hear for yourself.

So will everyone but the have-nots enjoy stereo tooth drivers for sound listening?
BTW, both comments about how it works were correct. The motor doesn't turn because the audio signal sent to it doesn't have enough power nor does it move in one direction long enough to move the rotor more than a fraction before the direction reverses causing vibration at the frequency of the audio. The same thing happens in a speaker except the motor moves in a rotary (twisting) motion rather than a linear motion.

Good catch and it is now changed. Thank you for it!

kilofeenix (author)2014-12-10

Does the cord get tangled up when the motor spins or is there just enough power to make it jiggle?

Great question, kilofeenix! There is a similar question below that somebody answered, but what's kind of amazing with this is that the motor merely jiggles. The signal that is produced by your sound-playing device comes through in waves, the most basic of which is a sin wave. For every positive electrical signal, there is a equal and opposite negative one that comes through, so it will make the motor only jiggle back and forth, never varying even more than a degree from its starting position. Try it out!

Nrgdragon (author)2014-12-12

How well can you hear through it? can you hear lyrics?

Absolutely! Full sound comes through, which is pretty darn amazing.

kparwez (author)2014-12-14

sooo. cool

You did it! So awesome!

FarmerKJS (author)2014-12-14

Will this harm my amps

PS i made this

Awesome! And no, this will come at no expense of your amps!

tig1 (author)2014-12-14

Nice project, I'm thinking about using one of those micro motors found in cell phones,

embedded in a hard plastic teeth night guard, I mean for those of us who want to be on a bus still thinking we are way to cool , then there is something to be said for the nerdy tech look....:) Thanks for the project.

Nice presentation.

The Oakland Toy Lab (author)tig12014-12-15

This sounds AMAZING! Oh do send pictures if you do this. You will achieve maximum cool factor no doubt.

maliboo (author)2014-12-06

will you have some special motor i using motor from toy and this dosen t work

maliboo (author)maliboo2014-12-06

please help

kbeckman1 (author)maliboo2014-12-06

It needs to be a DC motor, and the smaller the motor the better the frequency response (in theory), but the lower the volume.

tig1 (author)kbeckman12014-12-14

Feel like a bit of a dumb ass not thinking that one through. Thanks for the enlightenment.

maliboo (author)kbeckman12014-12-07

thank you

iplayfast (author)maliboo2014-12-06

check that your wiring has no shorts or opens, and make sure the volume is up loud! It should work.

uncle frogy (author)2014-12-11

very good! I have seen speakers used as microphones but I never thought of a DC motor as a speaker before. I will have to use this in some kind of a low fidelity project.

as general information the parts of a speaker composed of the magnet, coil, pole piece and the front plate and back plate are referred to as the motor.

and base shakers for installing in seats are just the motor only without any cone.

uncle frogy

christopher.roskosh (author)2014-12-09

One could in theory put a pin hole in the shared wall between yours and your party-loving neighbor's apartment and place this into it at around 7am the next morning as they try to sleep off the booze... Might also scare the bejeezus out of any mice in said wall, lol

Suraj Grewal (author)2014-12-08

so this sends sound to your ear through your bone,,maybe we can fit that in scuba gear to make a waterproof speaker.

St Anton (author)2014-12-06

It says in the instructions - parts list - we need a speaker?

Hey St. Anton! Sorry about that. It was a typo, and I meant to write "DC motor." It is corrected now. :)

mscullin (author)2014-12-07

In the materials list, "speaker" should be "motor". Right?

Absolutely right! Thank you for noting this, and I just changed it. :)

pointedspider (author)2014-12-07

how does this make sound?

It's literally written in the instructable. "The most exciting of which are that motors can work like speakers and vibrating bones can work like ears"

Genspace NYC (author)2014-12-06

This is a dumb question but why doesn't the motor cause the dowel to spin around if it is getting power from an iPod?

plantprof (author)Genspace NYC2014-12-06

I don't think that's an inherently dumb question [and besides, the only dumb Q is the one not asked!], after all, motors typically turn when enough electricity is applied to them. I am going to take a stab at this and guess what is happening, and hope someone corrects me or elaborates on this as needed: In this case, the current from the iPod, or other source, is insufficient to cause the electromagnetic armature [the coils of wire and the steel plates they are wrapped around] to react against the permanent magnet field in the motor enough to make it actually rotate. But, there is still a reaction. The current, through the wire coils in the armature, creates small magnetic "pulses" or oscillations which react against the permanent magnet's field. So instead of smoothly and continuously rotating, the coil of wire "sits there" and vibrates. And those vibrations are transmitted through the housing and the shaft to the stick between then teeth, which in turn transfers the vibrations to the jaw bone and then to the auditory apparatus in the middle and inner ear, causing you to sense those vibrations as sound. In a speaker, the wire coils attached to the paper speaker cone react against the speaker's permanent magnet, and the cone oscillates. In this 'ible the motor is vibrating, but not rotating, as the fields interact..

kbeckman1 (author)plantprof2014-12-06

It's actually due to the fact that the audio signal is a balanced AC signal, so the DC motor rotates equal amounts back and forth, infinitesimally. That back-and-forth is the vibration you pick up as sound.

plantprof (author)kbeckman12014-12-07


Genspace NYC (author)kbeckman12014-12-06

That's even cooler!

Genspace NYC (author)plantprof2014-12-06

Thanks! Great answer, I understand what's going on now :-)

Tspherix (author)2014-12-06

My guess is the motor here is the same as 'DC Speaker' as the coils work similarly .

agc13 (author)2014-12-06

Cool. Now I am looking at how to use two flatter motors with round disks to mount onto each side of your head.

canmaestro1 (author)2014-12-06

I'm confused. Is the motor in the instructions the same as the DC speaker in the materials list? I'm a novice tinkerer. :-)

plantprof (author)canmaestro12014-12-06

I think something was omitted or "assumed": the directions refer to a motor, and the photos show that, but there is no motor listed in the materials list. The list includes a speaker, but none is mentioned in the directions or shown in the photos. Maybe they'll fill in or correct the 'ible and alleviate the confusion.

JayWeeks (author)2014-12-06

I have frequently thought that I am looking way too cool! I am so glad to hear that Instructables finally has a fix for people who are just too cool!


tomatoskins (author)2014-12-04

I remember electric toothbrushes from when I was a kid that would play music while you brushed your teeth that used this same concept. Happy someone brought it back!

Those were the funnest! We'll look into how to make those soon. Thanks, tomatoskins!

NYCitySlicker (author)2014-12-05

Very cool

seamster (author)2014-12-04

This is so cool!

About This Instructable




Bio: The Oakland Toy Lab is a community-based wonder lab for students to build, tinker, explore, make, break, and learn! We are writing up engaging science ... More »
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