Picture of Build your own speaker from scratch!
After stumbling across a couple of tutorials I decided I would try and build my own speaker. This attempt succeeded and it surprised me at how well it  actually played. This is a lot of fun and can be built for next to nothing. 
It's also really great to show younger children and students to explain how speakers work. It would be ideal for a science class as there are very few components and all that can be found around the home. To assist in the learning side of it, I'll be sharing how I understand it works in the last step.
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Step 1: What you'll need:

Picture of What you'll need:
When assembling this list bear in mind that basically all of can be improvised for e.g. the battery can be replaced by any other round cylinder of roughly the same size, depending on your cup (another item that can be replaced with other things).

- A Styrofoam/paper cup (don't try a plastic one, it won't vibrate well enough)
- A small magnet. Doesn't really matter as long as it's small, and a magnet.
- A 3.5mm headphone jack. This can be salvaged by cutting it off a broken pair of headphones or similar item.
- Some copper wire (can be attained by taking apart old TVs, stereos,  but you'll probably have some lying around). It must be copper, as it is the most magnetic and conductive material that's readily available to be scrounged from around the house. 

- A C or D battery/Any smallish cylinder that has a radius a cm or two smaller than the girth of your cup
- Sticky Tape and popsicle sticks (it turns out you don't really need these, so don't bother if you don't have any lying around)
- Some alligator clips. If you have some wire and a soldering iron, they'll work too for a more permanent solution, but that makes much more work.
- Something that you can plug the speaker into. I used an iPod touch just to test it, but you'll find an older stand alone radio works better as the iPod had only enough power to make the speakers whisper quiet.

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Really great instructable! We've included a link to it from our blog :)
aeszok (author)  first4magnets9 months ago


AngelL11 month ago

what do you do if u are using the aligater clips

Awesome! I'll be trying these tomorrow with my middle school science classes! Thanks a lot! I loved it!

Spantac2 months ago

Is it possible to make stereo speakers in this way?

When I stripped my audio jack it had 4 wires. Could this still work if I identified the wires?

Alpha 233 months ago
Just wanna say thanks for the great tutorial:-)
aeszok (author)  Alpha 233 months ago
i really appreciate that

just made an account to say thanks!hey can you go more advanced?like providing the speaker without more electricity so that its louder?thank you

aeszok (author)  Ephraimthegreat7 months ago

You could. You feed it much more electricity though and it will bounce around and break itself from the vibrations, or if you really went over board, melt. Then there's the issue of inserting an amp or something to provide the electricity. It's really just a proof of concept.

metalshiflet8 months ago

Will this work if I just take a coil of copper wire that I found in a computer power supply rather than coiling the wire myself?

aeszok (author)  metalshiflet8 months ago

of course it will, you think I coiled all that wire myself? I'm flattered

WYE_Lance2 years ago
Neat idea! Do you have a video of the speaker in action?
aeszok (author)  WYE_Lance2 years ago
I really didn't think of that at all. I might do that in the future. Like I said though, it's pretty quiet and more of a proof of concept educational thing rather than practical.

The speaker is not powerful because you didn't connect any kind of powerful
external power source such as :- you can use an
USB cable and cut it from the side which goes into the phone and connect
the +ve(black) and -ve (red) wires to the copper wire, then insert the
other side into a 5V USB adapter and switch it on.
trust me, it goes really loud.
Nice tutorial.

aeszok (author)  Hamir Shekhawat9 months ago

I understand this. Unfortunately I wasn't all concerned with how loud it was, more that it worked. If I had made it much more powerful, it may have bounced around or broken rather than vibrate the cup.

Here's a video of mine that I made based off of a video by kipkay:

The speaker is not powerful because you didn't connect any kind of powerfule
external power source such as :- you can also use an
USB cable and cut it from the side which goes into the phone and connect
the +ve(black) and -ve (red) wires to the copper wire, then insert the
other side into a 5V USB adapter and switch it on.
trust me, it goes really loud.
Nice tutorial.

Really enjoyed reading this tutorial. Well done my friend.
cool one
zwells1 year ago
Nice Instructable it only took five minutes and an extra large pizza.
zwells1 year ago
No hobbyists for you
what will happen if the magnet is placed below the copper wire? and how this can be applied to an earphone..? this stuff cool
tritian2 years ago
You wrote :
"iPod had only enough power to make the speakers whisper quiet."
I had lost power for 8 days last week due to "super storm sandy" here in NY, and was really bored. During the night time, I had hooked an old headphone jack's cable to a 5-1/4" 2-way car speaker (Infinity Reference 5022i), plugged it into my iPod and amazingly, it was MUCH louder then a little alarm clock speaker I was using beforehand. I even plugged the same setup into my laptop and it was 1/4th the loudness as the built-in speakers. Not really sure why it powered it better then your homemade speaker though lol. (iPod is a 5th gen aka the first video ipod) Nice instructable, will show it to my nieces and nephews next time I babysit them.
aeszok (author)  tritian2 years ago
Yeah, it sounds like those speakers would have had amplifiers in them. Some of those have amplifiers built into them so that you can plug it straight into a source (like an ipod). I have been trying to find a cheap amp so I can put my ipod through some old Yamaha speakers I have lying around. Interesting find though, also interesting about the hurricane, I had no idea that power over there was out for that long as I live in Aus.
tritian aeszok2 years ago
it sounds like they have amps built in for sure, but they dont. they are just high quality. was a pleasant surprise thought, made watching stuff on a tiny screen much much better lol
Attmos2 years ago
I like this one.
vpawar2 years ago
what's the use of battery....?
aeszok (author)  vpawar2 years ago
Just to wrap the wire around, it's a good size and a common household item.
DIVYA GARG2 years ago
nice...................and coollllllllll
theTick1972 years ago
Is the wire uninsulated?
aeszok (author)  theTick1972 years ago
I think mine was, but I'm not really sure. I don't think it'll make much of a difference, at the end of the day it's only an experiment. I used copper that I salvaged from an old TV if that helps at all.
The wire will be "magnet wire" and is insulated with a coating of shellac. any winding on a transformer used in a TV or any other electronic gizmo will be such. Uninsulate copper wire would not work at all since since contacts between the windings would short it out. It needs to be insulated so that the many turns on the winding can build up a usable magnetic field to push the magnet back and forth. I think I can see where you have scraped the shellac off of the ends.
FtForger aeszok2 years ago
it matters a great deal. If the wire isn't insulated, it will be a short across the coils and you will not have an electromagnet. That being said, it may only have a coat of varnish or something similar on it to act as an insulator.
JMRaphael2 years ago
This is a very clever design and I have to say, I'm very impressed. A few recommendations which may improve the quality of the speaker:
-Try using finer, insulated wire. This does admittedly defeat the purpose of scrounging materials, but it can be bought online relatively cheaply. The strength of an electromagnet is derived from a combination of the number of loops in the coil and the current through this loops. Using finer wire doesn't increase the resistance terribly much, so you'll still get a decent current through the wire, but you'll be able to pack in quite a few more turns.
-Try securing the magnet directly within the coil. The field will be strongest within the coil, which will provide a greater impulse to the magnet. Similarly, a rare earth magnet may respond more strongly, producing a louder, cleaner signal.
-If you really want to take things above and beyond, try building a few basic RC (resistor-capacitor) filters from your audio signal, then direct the outputs to differently sized homemade speakers. A really large speaker would make for a rich subwoofer sound, while very small speakers would increase fidelity for the higher tones.
Finally, a minor correction: copper wire is not, in itself, magnetic. It is one of the best materials for electromagnets because of its low impedance. Silver or gold wire would work better, but again, that's not exactly inexpensive or the sort of thing most people have just laying around. All in all, a great project and an impressive 'ible!
aeszok (author)  JMRaphael2 years ago
Thanks for the suggestion, I did actually end up putting the magnet within the coil in the last step as I was experimenting. I think there's a photo there when it's connected to the iPod. I did actually use a rare earth magnet from an old hard drive after I posted this too.
Thanks for clearing up the bit about the copper - the way I understood it was not that copper was magnetic, but that the coil became magnetic very slightly once electrified. I may go over that and see if I can clarify it. Thanks again!
-max-2 years ago
i would have the coil with thinner enameled wire, wound enough to make 8 ohm's, and have that coil fit closer around the outside of the magnet. for the loudest and least distorted sound.
daemonral2 years ago
Hi I like the idea of the speaker. I would like to make a suggestion.

1)I think you need to used enamel covered wire or any wire that has an insulation.

2 ) why not try placing the coil on the inside of the cup. When the coil energizes, it should move the cone better.

That is just my two cents.
aeszok (author)  daemonral2 years ago
Thanks for the input, I might try it later, however I think the copper wire was already insulated as the one thing I didn't mention on mine was that i sanded the ends for a better connection. I left that out because I discovered it hardly made a difference at all.
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