Introduction: Build an Infrasonic Subwoofer
Infrasound is sound that is below your hearing threshold which general drops off at 20-30hz, i.e. lower than big booty bass. It can have a profound effect on your body, and should be experimented with carefully! Infrasound is used by the military as a weapon, or science to monitor earthquakes, whales ect.. In this instructable we will walk you through the process of building your own Infrasonic Subwoofer. We created one for our research collective AUDiNT.net on sonic warfare.
Infrasound is sound that is lower in frequency than 20 Hz (Hertz) or cycles per second, the "normal" limit of human hearing. Hearing becomes gradually less sensitive as frequency decreases, so for humans to perceive infrasound, the sound pressure must be sufficiently high. The ear is the primary organ for sensing infrasound, but at higher levels it is possible to feel infrasound vibrations in various parts of the body.
The study of such sound waves is sometimes referred to as infrasonics, covering sounds beneath 20 Hz down to 0.001 Hz. This frequency range is utilized for monitoring earthquakes, charting rock and petroleum formations below the earth, and also in ballistocardiography and seismocardiography to study the mechanics of the heart. Infrasound is characterized by an ability to cover long distances and get around obstacles with little dissipation.
Step 1: Speaker Cones
First, You must find an appropriate speaker cones. We decide to build a double speaker system with a cone on each end of the enclosure. You could also build it with only one cone. When choosing a cone it should one that is 21" or 24" in diameter. We chose to use a Pyle 21" speaker. For good sound quality you should use a driver that has a QES of .38 + - 20%. We found Pyle speakers at J&R for only $250.00 which for such a low speaker is cheap!!
What is Qes?
Step 2: Step Two
Select a wood type. We chose 18mm plywood. This is probably the best material. Avoid Chinese plywood if possible because it is not as consistant. Plywood is very sturdy and holds up well the air pressure produced by the large speaker cones. You need enough wood to make both the box and the bracing structure. Each wall should be braced to handle all the bass. You should try to make the box as big as you can. We built ours to be 30" x 30" x 70" It should NOT be square. This will greatly reduce its ability to produce infrasonic frequencies low enough.
Step 3: Bigger the Case
Now build the main box. As mentioned, the bigger the better. Cut all the sides to the proper dimension, and plan out how you will create support system within the box using braces. THere is a lot of pressure exerted on the walls and the stronger the walls are the more efficiently the subwoofer will be able to create such low frequencies.
We used a combination of wood glue, and as few screws as possible. The box should be airtight so each screw increases the possibility of air leaks and rattling. Then we used Kwik Seal to seal all of the corners and potential air leaks.
Step 4: Installation
Install the speakers into the enclosure. Make sure the mounting is solid. Next install the bracing. The bracing should be on all sides of the enclosure and should be glued in using would glue. We created to braces from speaker to speaker, from side wall to side wall, and from bottom to top, and then used clamps to hold everything in place while the wood glue set overnight.
Step 5: Electronics + Test, Test, Test
Test the cone to make sure it works. We connected the cone up to a 1000 watt amplifier and ran sine tones through it in order to confirm that it was working properly. Sometimes when speakers are shipped they are DOA ( dead on arrival), as was our case with one of our speakers. In order to break the cone in we ran a sine tone through ours for 24 hours.
You will want to find powerful amplifiers. We chose two livesound amplifiers. Each channel was 500watt amplifier and switch to serial mode to which collectively made one amplifier a mono 1000 watt amplifier.
Once the cone works, then solder together the thick gauge audio cable, connect it from the speaker to a 2 channel Speakon wall-mount connector which we will insert into the wall of the speaker. This will enable you to unplug your speaker but also insert it into a larger live sound system. Then solder on male speakon connecters to thick audio cable and then connect this to your amplifier and add the compatible connector for your amplifier. For us, we used balanced 1/4" connectors.
Test all the wiring by running sine tones through the input to make sure all of your connections wokr.
Step 6: Cabling
Now once you have tested and solder together your cabling install l all the cabling, solder the speakers, cut holes to the exact size of the speakon jacks + corresponding panel. Then test all the wiring by running sine tones through the input again. At this point you may want to add wooden or metal handles to the side of the Subwoofer because its heavy and awkward to lift!! Ours was close to 70lbs.
Step 7: Seal the Connections
Now you need to seal all possible air leaks in your subwoofer. Seal all joints and corners with silicon or Qwik Seal. Also put apoxy on all connections on the subwoofer prevent connections from loosing. You don't want to have to open up the Subwoofer again because of a loose connections!
Step 8: Step 8
Put the lid on the finished unit and test one last time. Seal all of the seems with silicon as you screw the lid on. If you plan on staining or painting it you will want to cover the cones with plastic to protect them.
Step 9: Step 9
Next, stain the wood and repeat again to get a rich color. If you would like to take the project one step further you can add 100 grams of bondo to the cone you can lower the frequency. To half the resonance double the cones mass. The Pyle's resonant frequency is 22 hz. We decided not to do this but it is certainly worth a try.
Step 10: Rock
Next crank it up but be slow about it to see how you react to the low frequency. A 15hz sine tone is a good start or even better a sliding tone from 60hz down to 10hz and then back up. From this you will be able to tell when your body feels it intensely and also how low the speaker will be able to reproduce a frequency. Enjoy but be careful!!
For more information on our collective AUDiNT go to AUDiNT.net. The subwoofer was build by Toby Hayes and Jon Cohrs, with the help of Steve Goodman. Steve Goodman has recently released a book called Sonic Warfare: Sound, Affect, and the Ecology of Fear (Technologies of Lived Abstraction). Toby will be releasing a book shortly as well.