Instructables
Picture of Cheap and Easy Car Speakers
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This was the problem that faced me: my car is old enough that it doesn't have an AUX jack to plug an iPod into. However, it's not old enough to have a cassette tape player, so I can't use one of those nifty adapters. Retrofitting it so that it does have a jack would be too expensive. The result is that I can't play music from my iPod in my car. I decided that the best solution was to build a sort of iPod dock designed to fit in the car, one that would run off of the cigarette lighter outlet and be cheaper than a regular iPod dock. I made it out of a set of old computer speakers and designed it to fit my car. Here is the result. Feel free to rate and comment. Hope you like it!

P.S. I understand that an FM transmitter is a viable solution. It has been pointed out several times in the comments. However, this is what I made, and it is merely one way of doing things. Thanks.
 
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Step 1: Materials

The reason that this project is so easy is that it uses old computer speakers as its base. Computer speakers already have the circuitry built in, so no extra effort or amplifiers are necessary. I got a very nice pair for $5 off of Craigslist (they're normally $15).

Materials:
-Computer speakers - $5 (on Craigslist)
-Sheet plastic - $5
-Car power adapter* - $9.99 (at radioshack )
-Stereo plug - $3.99 (for  a pack of two at radioshack )
-Window screen - $0 (I got mine from an old window)
-Small nuts and bolts (I had plenty of these already)

Total: $24

Tools:
-Jigsaw
-Power drill
-Hole-cutting drill bit
-Soldering materials
-Screwdriver
*A word about adapters: my speakers ran on an AC adapter that produced 12V DC at about 1.5 amps, so I got a 12V 2A adapter. There are other adapters with different outputs, so be sure to get one that fits your speakers.
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abottomley1 year ago
I just bought an old beat up Pontiac. The stereo was torn out and the speakers were all kicked in. The door on the compartment in the middle of the car is missing as well... So this is a perfect fix! Definitely going to do this.
jacobske3 years ago
PC (now vehicle) subwoofer is working/reverberating terribly when I plug it into the cigarette lighter. The satellite speakers are working great.

The speakers are 12 V ac/dc, 1500 mah. The adapter powering them is 12 V, 2 amps. This happens whether I plug the subwoofer power source into the cigarette lighter or another 12 v accessory plug that's wired directly to the battery.

What gives?

kip
I had this same issue with an MP3 player when using the car as a source of power. It seems to be the alternator noise causing feedback from the speaker source. Try wiring up a line cleanser in the power line like this one: http://www.amazon.com/Pyramid-NS12-InLine-Noise-Suppressor/dp/B0007V5X4U/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1343152667&sr=8-1&keywords=line+filter+car

Another option would be to try and wire a large capacitor in parallel with the power line. This is a little less effective, but seems to work ok for a cheap fix.
handy for a CB setup
Stupid question, but wouldn't an FM radio transmitter adapter work just as well? Cool project though be great to mod into a portable guitar amp or simmilar!
The FM transmitters are not worth the cost to buy them. The last reply was right. the sound quality is very poor and you have to deal with picking up other peoples transmitions and the occational station. This is a nice alternative for the happy DIY'er.
FM-transmitters won't deliver good enough signal to one that likes even some kind of sound guality. Using salvaged parts isn't much better solution than FM-signals but definately more datisfying to build than using new ones.
Success.
jessejwk (author)  Vinsu3 years ago
Glad you liked it
kyismaster3 years ago
You could easily done this with a car subwoofer.

Parts:
Amp: $5 (with car power adapter aka cigarette lighter plug)
Subwoofer : free if you know where to look, or decent ones for 10 - 20 dollars.
Wire: <--- well.. Free with your amp ( just cut the spare wires from the aditional adapter (wall plug )
Wood base: free scrap wood at your local hardware store
Carpet: free scraps at your local carpenter store.

Price total: $5 - 25.
Price of common sense: Priceless.

Good luck on your find. If those were Logitech speakers I wouldn't complain.
My logitech blasts Crystal Clear sounds from easily 50 Feet. (it echos through the neighborhood) About the size of a brick though (two speakers together with control board and portable battery, just need to convert it to lithium now....)
jessejwk (author)  kyismaster3 years ago
That is certainly another option. What I made suits my situation just fine, but I'm sure many people would enjoy seeing your method turned into an instructable.
Didn't mean to offend you, I was just offering a more powerful option. I could easily create the instructable if I had the time but I am looking at more light weigh alternatives. I am more looking to make a portable alternative plan
jessejwk (author)  kyismaster3 years ago
No offense taken. Good luck.
Great instructable by the way.
ChillyChick3 years ago
Wonderful! Thank you. I have an OLD vehicle that does not have a sound system, it was never installed. This is the answer to my problem! Thank you again!
jessejwk (author)  ChillyChick3 years ago
Glad I could help. Post a picture when you finish. Good luck!
dimpap3 years ago
These PC speakers are really bad quality, low frequency range, and due to placing them one near the second - no stereo efect at all.

Even the cheapest FM transmitter was act and sound better

If you have too much interference in the air in your area, you always may use the transmitter which "cuts" the aerial wire of your radio, and no other FM signal may reach your radio while the transmitter is ON and you are listening an external source, as ipod. Once you switching the ipod or the transmitter OFF, the electronic circuit connects your car aerial back to the radio receiver, so you able to receive the FM signals by the regular way.
Just search eBay for FM Modulator and you will get hundreds of results, with the same price you payd for your project.

Just for example - http://cgi.ebay.com/BOSS-AUDIO-FM-MOD-FM-MODULATOR-/220788852144?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item33680a85b0

and you are getting clear stero sound, distributed between 4 speakers of your car, and as bonus opportunity to use all your EQs, sound effects, and other features of your cars head unit.

Very popular scheme, used in many handsfrees, stand alone CD Changers e.g.
Just imagine, that if such an equipment made for listening CD changer via your regular on-board FM radio, isn't it clearly indicates it is the most effective and high quality way ?

So the work you did is clean, but kinda useless
Sorry for my IMHO.
jessejwk (author)  dimpap3 years ago
Thanks for your comment, I didn't know all that about the FM modulator. As for the speakers being low quality and low frequency range, I haven't found that to be a problem in my personal testing. The compartment does a little for the bass amplification, and the quality is more than suitable. I experimented with some lower quality amplifier circuits and speakers, and these are pretty good. It works for my purposes at any rate. You may be right about the FM transmitter being a more efficient solution, but I made this project mainly because it was fun, it looks cool, and I had a pair of computer speakers on hand. Also, I was trying to see what could be done with computer speakers and maybe give other people ideas for other applications (I think someone said they were going to use it on a motorbike). Anyway, I wouldn't exactly call it useless.
dimpap jessejwk3 years ago
HI

Hope you forgive me my "useless" :)
English is definately not my native language, so some my fonetics may sound too strike :)
Of course your Idea is brilliant, and in some cases may be much more convinent, than buying new hardware. I may suppose it may also be usefull as central speaker for those who have 5.1 sound in car.
Thank you for sharing
jessejwk (author)  dimpap3 years ago
Thank you for your ideas
bpfh dimpap3 years ago
I do not agree. I have always had at best medeocre success with FM transmitters, and as mentionned here several times, you have problems with overwash from other people using the same frequency, and worse, the classic problem in a big city - finding an unused frequency without having a local station walking over your transmitter... Adding to that my car has a CD and a tape deck, a 10 buck solution is a tape to mp3 adaptor. Clearly not as elegant, but far better sound quality and reliability....

My 0.02 :)
dimpap bpfh3 years ago
HI bpfh,
Thanks for commenting.
But please read the topic once again, and you will find out that :

1) the modulator I proposed is free from external radio interferences due to different and WIRED design. It is not the regular FM Transmitter mentioned here several times (see the ebay link I posted)
2) tape adapter will not fit the needs of the topic's author, because there is no cassete player in his car's headunit.
bpfh dimpap3 years ago
Hi Dimpap,

1) I'm sorry, I was responding about the line mentionning "Even the cheapest FM transmitter was act and sound better "

2) I did specifiy that I was talking about my car, having a tape deck makes things easier to connect... though on that side of things, I do not need this sort of setup for the car... but as mentionned in another post below, this is a perfect idea for my motorcycle, and  I'll be playing with some old parts this coming weekend!

Cheers,
Daniel
zack2473 years ago
nice! i was going to talk about a shell so the bass would be better, but the compartment you put the speakers in seems to serve the same purpose as a shell would.

very nice and clean!
jessejwk (author)  zack2473 years ago
I did notice that when I removed the speakers from the compartment, the bass volume decreased; I wasn't sure why though. That explains it. Thanks for your comment!
Well , That's the reason why woofer drivers are placed into usually big enclosures , it might do something for the bass if you cut a hole on the side or a "port" .
Oh , and that's why all (except for lousy) speakers are in boxes too .
kassofcmb3 years ago
Don't listen to the "Haters" you saw a need and built something for it. Awesome
jessejwk (author)  kassofcmb3 years ago
Thank you :)
jcaresheets3 years ago
First I would like to say that this was very nicely done. Good job!! But I also wanted to add something. They have these little FM transmitters that you hookup to the headphone jack on stuff and then it does exactly what you would expect. You just tune it in on your car radio and your set to go. However these little transmitters do not look nearly as cool as what you did. :)
The fm transmitters are worthless here, absolutely worthless, no matter what frequency you go for it's being stepped on horribly and the audio you are trying to broadcast comes through every so faintly
If you want FM Transmitters to work perfectly, it's simply a matter of buying a antenna adapter and running it in through a toggle. Basically, when you want to have your iPod running through the deck, toggle off the antenna which disengages the antenna from the back of the deck. It won't matter WHAT channel you're on, or WHAT anyone else is doing because you've disengaged the antenna. Whenever you want to listen to the radio again, simply flip a switch and re-engage the antenna.

I had my car setup like that and it worked perfectly. Now I've got an in dash DVD with Bluetooth, so I don't use the old system anymore. But the toggle always worked good.
The FM transmitters work fine unless you live in a metropolitan area where the FM band is very crowded. You can be sitting at a traffic light listening to bluegrass, then suddenly you're picking up rap music from the car next to you, because they've tuned into the same unused frequency that you use.
I work in the Los Angeles area and live about 70 miles away in another radio market. Until I got my latest car with an Aux input, I used an FM transmitter (an iRiver). It worked just fine. I had to find a clear frequency, but I managed to find one even in this crowded radio market (90.5 worked well for me most of the time BTW). The transmitter I used had three presets and the full frequency range, so I was able to switch between channels depending on where I was.

It wasn't perfect. There were times when I would pick up somebody else's transmitter (though technically, they're not supposed to be strong enough to interfere between cars). Overall, though, it worked.

I did find a few tricks:

1) Make sure you get a transmitter that has the full frequency range. I had one with a handful of presets, and it was horrible.

2) If you have a long commute, get one that lets you store your own presets.

3) If you don't listen to the radio, disconnect your antenna. If you do listen to the radio, you can hook up a switch. My car had an antenna that was easily unscrewed. I did this with the first transmitter I had which only let me pick from about 10 frequencies. With the last transmitter, I didn't have to.

4) You may not be able to charge and play at the same time. I found that I would pick up interference from the charger.

The most important thing I learned, however, was:

5) Do *not* crank your media player up to full blast. You want to keep the volume down to around 50% or maybe lower. If you turn it up too high, it *will* cause distortion when it's transmitted over FM and it *will* sound horrible. I had a friend with a transmitter who said it was the worst sound ever, until I told him to turn down his player.
It has been about 6-7 years ago that I used an FM transmitter. I don't know if anything has changed with these since then, but at the time they only offered the choice of three frequencies. In the area I live in, two of these three frequencies were occupied by radio stations, leaving all of us to use the only one available. I finally bought an adapter for my radio, and wired the satellite input into it directly.
Ahhh I suppose. Like I said though, this was done very nicely.
jessejwk (author)  jcaresheets3 years ago
Thanks! I did consider the FM transmitter method, but I had heard a lot about interference and bad performance.
I had an FM transmitter, and it was quickly thrown in the junk drawer. If you have to drive large distances, or you live between big cities like I do then the radio stations change alot depending on where you are at. It would help if there was a universal blank station, but then you could have the problem knife141 has. I like this instructable too. gives you a nice finished/hidden look when not in use.
i've been using a transmitter for a while now, and its great
never had a problem with interference or anything of the sort
it came with a little remote to switch through the tracks its great
http://www.bigboxstore.com/car-accessories/car-mp3
in my city its not the interference thats a problem, its the transmitters themselves, look out for any that are made out of incredibly cheap materials, the headphone jacks on those break considerably easy.
I believe FM transmitters are a much better way to go. You just have to find ones that will allow you to choose the frequency you transmit on. That way you avoid any interference. So say that 'they all suck' is an over-generalization because that would me that you are saying that FM in general doesn't work at all in your city. Which is obviously not true because there are radio stations that do work without being interfered with. I'm pretty sure you can get a nice one for $24 off eBay. I picked up mine at a local Canadian Tire for like $15 and never had an issue with it in my town (population 500,000).

Still, this is a good instructable. It does take a lot of work/creativity to make what you did. Good work!
Like going cable-free with streaming video, the FM transmitter thing works a lot better on paper than it does in the real world. I live in a town with a relatively small number of radio stations, and every attempt at using a transmitter resulted in miserable quality and intermittent audio. I'm definitely going to try this (and add the FM transmitter to my garage sale collection).
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