Introduction: Build a Talk Box Inside a Toilet Plunger

Picture of Build a Talk Box Inside a Toilet Plunger
With a soldering iron, a pair of computer speakers, and some plumbing equipment (including a Toilet Plunger). You can build a pretty good Talk Box (a talk box is what artists like Daft Punk use to get that Robot Voice Effect on songs like Around the World, and Harder Better Faster Stronger).

When looking for youtube videos about talk boxes I stumbled across MootBooXLe's
Video about building a Ghetto Talk box.

When Building My Ghetto talk box a came up with some improvements on the construction
and materials and decided to make my own how-to for building a better than Ghetto
talk box.

To build your Toilet Plunger talk box you will need:

A pair of mid range powered computer speakers.
A 4 ft 1/2 inch diameter vinyl hose.
A Plumbing Cap from Home Depot (the one I used was a Nibco 5817 ABS DWV Plastic Plumbing Cap that was just a little larger than the naked speaker).
A Rubber Toilet Plunger (I've used both a red and black plunger and they both work fine, you want to make sure that the plumbing cap fits inside the plunger very tightly and that no air escapes).
A Roll of duct tape
A musical instrument to plug the speakers into.
A soldering Iron
And Finally basic tools for disassembling things... screw driver, Pliers etc...

Step 1: Disassemble, Remove Speaker, Solder, Reassble

Picture of Disassemble, Remove Speaker, Solder, Reassble

Most Powered computer speakers have a left speaker that detaches and the right speaker has
the electronics etc.

You don't need the left speaker.

Disassemble the right Speaker and detach the speaker from the speaker case.
Most of these speakers don't have long enough wires attached to the speaker itself for you to
leave the speaker outside of the speaker case once it's removed.
Since this is probably the case you can cut the wires that attach to the speaker terminals,
and solder some longer wires from the circuit board.. to the speaker.

Find a hole in the speaker case (or drill one... i didn't have a drill so I used some scissors as a AWL and that did the trick).
Run your wires that Attach to the speaker out of that hole and then solder them to your speaker.
Then put the speaker back together so its less of a mess.

At this point the speaker should be functional.. but the speaker itself will be external to the speaker enclosure.

Step 2: Use Duct Tape to Protect Your Soldering

Picture of Use Duct Tape to Protect Your Soldering

The Soldering on your speaker, and speaker itself is pretty delicate... so it's a good idea put duct tape over the back of the speaker and wires to protect them from being damaged.
(don't put tape anywhere on the front of the speaker or it will mess up the sound).

Step 3: Drill Hole in Plumbing Cap and Insert Vinyl Hose

Picture of Drill Hole in Plumbing Cap and Insert Vinyl Hose

Step 3

Take your plumbing cap.. and a drill (or I just used scissors as an awl).
Make a hole in the middle of the top of the plumbing cap.
You want to make the hole a bit smaller that your vinyl hose, this is so you won't have to glue the tube into the hole.
The tube is pliable enough that once the hole is just a little smaller than the hose you should be able to force the tube in (lots of twisting and arm power).
Make sure the tube only goes into the cap about 1/2 and inch to 3/4s of an inch.
(you don't want the tube to puncture the speaker when the parts are put together).

Step 4: Put Speaker in Plunger, Then Plumbing Cap Over Speaker/Into Plunger

Picture of Put Speaker in Plunger, Then Plumbing Cap Over Speaker/Into Plunger

Take your speaker, place it int he bottom of the plunger so the speaker is facing out towards you.
Take your plumbing cap and hose, and slide the plumbing cap into the plunger until it's int he plunger as far as it will go without puncturing the speaker.

Step 5: Plug It In, Turn It On, and Test It

Picture of Plug It In, Turn It On, and Test It

Plug the speaker into a power outlet, and plug the audio cable into something that produces audio. (an mp3 player, a synthesizer.. or a toy musical keyboard like the one I used)

Once you hear the sound coming from the Vinyl Hose you can put the hose in your mouth and move your mouth around like you're saying words without actually speaking.

You'll sort of be able to hear the words you're mouthing. This produces a wha-wha effect on music/synthesizers/guitars etc...

The more you exaggerate your mouth movements the more it will sound like actual words.

For best results used a Musical Keyboard or Software/Hardware Synth that Makes a loud Gritty Saw Tooth WAVE
Some good VST Plugins to try running through your talk box are the Delay LlamaThe Oberon , and the Devil Inside Synth

Step 6: Additional Info

Picture of Additional Info

The Casio Pt-1 Keyboard that I used in the video is modified or circuit bent.
Normally the pitch of the keyboard wouldn't be able to go that low, but by soldering some paper brads to the Tuning knob
on the back of the keyboard... and then leading another paper brad to another point on the motherboard i'm able to pitch it down significantly. (like a whammy bar).
The Casio Pt-1 probably isn't the best keyboard to use with a talk box unless you modify it as I did.


tteckel (author)2012-06-12

Awesome ! gonna try it out right now !
that's gonna make it in our Zappa cover band. I play Rhodes and Hammond, i'm sure they'll fit with it.
thanks, man

mshipman (author)2011-04-07

do you have anything on how to mod a key board to get a pitch bend like the instructions on circuit bending?

prodo123 (author)2011-01-31

Gross, let's suck on a tube that's attached to something that touched my poop.

CCOTTER247 (author)2011-01-30

Or you could use heat-shrink to make it look more pro.

PieMaster777 (author)2010-10-17

Can this be used for a guitar?

static (author)2010-09-10

Drilling a hole in the pipe cap to tun the speaker wire though and tying a knot in it for a strain relief before soldering the wire to the speaker terminals would be best in the long run for anyone duplicating this project.

incorrigible packrat (author)2008-04-18

Just gotta ask: Was it a new or used plunger?

a plunger is that thing that makes it so your toilet can flush... and new is when it hasnt been well used... and used is when it has been stuck in your toilet after something else that is clogging up the toilet... when i make one... i will be using a new one for some health reasons... hope this helps.

C'mon you could wash it. Don't be so squeamish.

One may as well buy a new one to use. Because you going to have to buy new one to do the job of any used one taken out of service to make this toy. Unless a plunger was stuck in the variety box bought at an auction, and you have a surplus plunger in the home .

you can wash it all you want. but you are basically inhailing the air from that place. so unless you stick it in bleach over night you will not be able to get it as clean as it can be, and even then you will be lucky.

but... The new plunger could off-gas all sorts of plasticisers and other nasties, on account of it not being made from food-grade plastic, (just one of the reasons to not brew beer in a garbage can, even if it's a new one). Even food-grade plastic is held somewhat suspect these days. Anyhow, you'd be inhaling that new plastic smell, with all it's hormone disrupting goodness. Then again, the used plunger could be deteriorating and releasing more gunk, especially if subjected to harsh cleansers. I guess the safe thing to do would be to do nothing and just stare blankly at the walls for a while...

i agree. in fact, it's much too dangerous to even go outside these days. home delivery is a must for the truly safety conscious.

but.. staying inside, one could fall victim to deadly radon gas, or sick building syndrome, or even the dreaded hantavirus (depending on the number of mouses in your houses) Or I suppose a person could open a window from time to time, and maybe invest in a mousetrap or pussycat.

too much work.

I agree. I probably should have just stayed in the womb. That whole gestation thing was kind of a drag too, in retrospect. Shoulda eschewed fertilization entirely, and opted for permanent ova-hood. But then I'd only be half here; or rather 0.375 here, as I'm only about three quarters here already. (Some might argue I'm neither here nor there)... Say, did you know that Google has a built in calculator?

pdub77 (author)girrrrrrr22008-12-11

not to be petty, but you aren't really inhaling air from the plunger. if air were exiting the tube, there would be a partial vacuum inside the plunger. you are sending sound through the tube by vibrating the air. it's like shaking an elongated slinky. the movement transmits but the actual metal of the slinky does not. either way, thoroughly scrubbed wouldn't kill you if you were too drunk to drive to the hardware store.

Jonny Katana (author)pdub772008-12-27

High five for science!

pestosvitcos (author)2008-05-26

Thanks for the how to, awesome plunger idea. Gonna try it out, any advice on recording the finished sound? Just do it near a mic? Any way to mount a mic to that hose? Thanks again! (btw, love your around the world)

What you want to do is get a microphone and a mic stand. Tape the tube to the side of the mic so that about 2 inches of the tube go into your mouth. You can record through the mic.

fatboy106 (author)2009-09-05

would this work with a guitar??

teslafan100 (author)2009-08-05

i also have the casio pt-1 and alot other mini casios.

incorrigible packrat (author)2009-07-02

Oh I bet that Google engineers are hard at work, trying to make it a Leatherman as well... (The utility tool, not the chaps and vest fellows...) (...well maybe them too, don't want to be discriminatory)

google is all you need to live a happy and productive life. read the news. sheesh.

nerocon (author)pdub772009-07-16

lmao, what an awesome conversation. You guys made my night. Sorry to the OP though in adding to the off topic, but come on.. that's some pretty funny stuff. "I guess the safe thing to do would be to do nothing and just stare blankly at the walls for a while..." HA!

Silence (author)nerocon2009-07-16

Its the definition of "Hijacked Thread" :P

pdub77 (author)Silence2009-07-16

You can't say "hijacked" on a thread!!!!

KI6WTX (author)2009-06-09

Drafy Punk uses a Vocoder, look down at a later conversation about it-

epizeuxis (author)KI6WTX2009-06-21

Daft Punk. Sorry I couldn't help myself

PKTraceur (author)epizeuxis2009-07-16

Notice the "Y" key is next to the "T" key. -PKT

epizeuxis (author)PKTraceur2009-07-16

Oh sorry. -Ben

pdub77 (author)epizeuxis2009-07-16

Dafy Punk is really good too!

Izokay (author)2008-07-31

Great Instructable! I found that sound leaked from the speaker still so I wrapped the plunger/PCV cap part with a blanket. This helped a lot.

KI6WTX (author)Izokay2009-06-09

when all else fails use ductape!

danell (author)2008-07-18

Making one now =D going to buy a tube tomorrow :P

danell (author)danell2008-07-19

i have made one now but it sucked =( The "box" sounds to much and not a lot of sound are coming out from the tube but I'm using a plastic box instead if a plumbing cap (because I'm from Sweden and i can't figure out what the hell a plumbing cap is xD ) Please explain for me so i can go and buy one =)

talkbox master (author)danell2008-12-03

wat is a sarinar cord when he said heres the materials wat did he say

Gakki (author)danell2008-11-09

Visit a hardware store with a PVC section.

bth8 (author)danell2008-07-31

its the cap u put on pvc pipe

gnr007 (author)2007-12-03

how could you hook that up to a guitar amp?

technodude92 (author)gnr0072008-01-18

you don't.
Not directly at least. You see, the talk box works by sending the guitar's sound through a tube. The tube goes in your mouth and you make effects like the "talking guitar" with your mouth. You then need a microphone to pick up what comes out of your mouth. and with a microphone comes another amp... you could exclude the microphone but then all the sound will come from your mouth.

This talk box doesn't have enough gain to be used with a guitar without some amplification to bring it up to what a computer speaker might see(+- 2v), so you would have to hook you guitar up to an amp and use the headphones jack to connect the talk box

see also Wikipedia

The guitar/keyboard does the same thing as the voice box with the help of the talk box. It makes a tone in your mouth that your voice modulates to make harsh sounds that we can perceive as talking.

rule001 (author)gnr0072008-04-19

sure! simply stick the talkbox-jack into the headphone-out of your guitar amp. (might need one of dose pieces that make it fit, know...small jack in/big jack out thingy) u can really hook up anything to this! (i even did it with my E-drumkit) BTW; great instructable! big thumbs up! ..and thanks a lot!

Brother_D (author)2008-06-16

thats pimpin

Gid (author)2008-06-09

Yeah thats really quite cool. could you do the same thing with a plastic box instead of a toilet plunger? how vital is it to make the vacuum?

schimmi (author)2008-05-20

chimo much?

Axlzero451 (author)2008-04-13

That is called a vocoder. The ones that manipulate guitars are called talk boxes.

Aud1073cH (author)Axlzero4512008-05-20

Good instructable, but in reply to Axlzero451, Talk boxes and vocoders can both be used to effect the sound of guitars, keyboards, or any other sound source. This instructable is a talk box, which sends the sound into your mouth, so you can shape the sound with your mouth. A vocoder is all electronic. These are what Daft Punk uses, not the talk box. The voice and guitar/keyboard sound are combined as electric signals. In a vocoder the voice signal from a microphone is split into different frequencies, and the volume level of each frequency band determines how much of the same band of the carrier (instrument) signal gets passed through to the output. PAiA makes a vocoder kit, and The Electrix Warp Factory is a commercial unit. There are also some KORG synths (keyboards) and guitar effects pedals like the higher-end DigiTech pedals have vocoders built in.

Axlzero451 (author)Axlzero4512008-04-13

Oh. Sorry. It looked like the pitch was manipulated by the keyboard. Whoops.

Bropagopa (author)2008-05-02

This is an awesome project. I am making one (of my own design with your help for the outline) for a friend of mine who is a recording artist that's way into psychedelic indie music. I've got one question, however: do you think attaching an enclosure to the driver would improve with the possible volume problem? With the computer speakers I salvaged for this project I ended up with a pretty nice sub box. The box has a massive port which might impede with the higher frequencies used with the instrument, so I might just plug it up and use it for this project if I don't find another use for it.

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