Instructables

Embroidered Fabric Speaker

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Picture of Embroidered Fabric Speaker
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Embroider highly conductive thread to make a fabric speaker coil. Then run an amplified sound source through it and hold a magnet close to hear it play. Sewing the coil takes longer than you might think!

Here some videos of what the speaker sounds like:










Here some links to further documentation and variations of the fabric/paper speaker coil and membrane:
>> Fabric speakers
>> Paper speakers
>> Embroidered speaker kit
>> Embroidered speaker kit page
 
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Step 1: UNDERSTANDING HOW A SPEAKER WORKS

Picture of UNDERSTANDING HOW A SPEAKER WORKS
A speaker makes sound because an electromagnet (the embroidered coil) is mounted to a membrane (the fabric) with a permanent magnet close by.  When an audio signal is connected to either end of the electromagnet (coil) a fluctuating magnetic field forms around the coil, repelling and attracting the membrane from the permanent magnet. These vibrations happen so fast that we can barely see them, but the membrane moves the air around it, translating electrical frequencies into audible waves that we can hear.
Take a good look at the diagram and stencil on the other side of this sheet so that you understand what variables will influence the efficiency (volume) of your speaker coil before designing your own.

Step 2: MATERIALS AND TOOLS

Picture of MATERIALS AND TOOLS
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MATERIALS:

* solderable conductive thread:
>> http://www.karl-grimm.com/navi.swf
>> https://www.etsy.com/listing/114198338/solderable-conductive-thread

* neodymium magnet(s):
>> http://www.kjmagnetics.com/products.asp?cat=17
>> http://magnet-magnete.eu/

* fusible interfacing:
>> http://www.amazon.com/Thermoweb-17-Inch-5-Yard-Iron-On-Adhesive/dp/B000XAMYXI/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1354193110&sr=8-2&keywords=heatnbond

* regular fabric

* regular thread


TOOLS:

* scissors

* iron

* sewing needle
DIY-Guy1 year ago
Plusea you wowed us again! Would you happen to be related to Thomas Edison by chance? :)
On another note, will this speaker resonate a little better with a firm frame of reference such as stretching the floppy fabric coil over a more solid hoop of some kind? Anchor the edges so to speak.

Yes it will. I am not plusea but I figure I would answer. The stiffer the material, the more the speaker can move it as a membrane to produce sound waves. I recommend using a good amplifier and stiff fabric. You can find felt that has stiffener in it at the dollar store and use that as your membrane.

kaycstevens6 months ago
what size magnets do you recommend? i am on the website now, but not sure which magnets to select... awesome project!
makeshop1 year ago
Hi can you explain why I must be solderable conductive thread, would this http://www.kitronik.co.uk/products/textiles/textiles-kits/individual-e-textiles-parts/small-conductive-thread-bobin-6m-approx/ sort of thread work either?
Plusea (author)  makeshop1 year ago
it doesn't have to be solderable. but it should be highly conductive. the thread you linked to has a relatively high resistance to it, for making a speaker coil. meaning your speaker will be quieter because the electromagnet will be weaker.
TCBTC1 year ago
Isn't it also possible to use lightly insulated wire so they wont touch?
So I made two of these and embedded them in my hoodie! The sound quality isn't great, but it's still cool!
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Plusea (author)  boygenuis321 year ago
Oh cool!!! Thanks for the photos! It looks great.
dee44021 year ago
This is super cool! How do you think of all this stuff?!
Made a version with magnet wire on felt. Waiting on some magnets to test it out.
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agis681 year ago
very nice instructable for experiments. What if you place bigger magnet. I think the better sound quality was the speaker in a black fabric. Was really understood every single word of the song.....very neat.....keep rolling
Plusea (author)  agis681 year ago
you're right the black speaker sounds best, but it's not just the speaker it is also the audio source. for the black speaker the audio is coming from an mp3 player and being amplified by a commercial amplifier, but in the other videos the audio is coming from a cheap sound circuit found inside greeting cards and i am amplifying it with a transistor.
This project would make for good ear-muff-headphones, for the winter months.
Couldn't you stretch the fabric on a frame or use embroidery rings, before sewing the speaker coil, in order to keep the fabric taught?
Arghus1 year ago
Sound quality seems awful.. A speaker like that will only be cool when it offers audio fidelity. Still cool project to show ppl how a speaker works
woz.artur1 year ago
Very nice, continue your R&D! :D
shazni1 year ago
Please may i know if i hook up both ends to a socket and then plug it in to a mp3 will it work? sort of like a earphone? or does it need more power?
Plusea (author)  shazni1 year ago
it should "work" but it might be so quiet that you can not hear it at all. at best you will hear it very quietly.
shazni Plusea1 year ago
Thanks...i guess the idea i had is out...as i don't have much experience with amplifying and all those electronics... I haven't come to my electronic phase yet :-)
Plusea (author)  shazni1 year ago
no need to know much about electronics. just buy a cheap amplified speaker unit like this one:
>> http://www.amazon.com/X-Mini-II-Capsule-Speaker-Black/dp/B001UEBN42/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1354447930&sr=8-1&keywords=mini+speakers
take it apart and connect it as shown here:
>> http://www.kobakant.at/DIY/?p=3794
this will amplify your mp3 player audio sufficiently to be heard through an embroidered fabric speaker.
hope this helps.
Ian011 year ago
This would be great on a running jacket or armband! I may try that sometime, and maybe even add a Bluetooth interface to connect to my phone.
ehudwill1 year ago
Fantastic job! Very creative! Thanks for sharing.
I can definitely see a lot of applications with this. Awesome idea! Do you suppose if the diameter were larger, multiple magnets would work?
This is awesome! You are an inspiration.
yoyology1 year ago
To solve the problem of needing to have the coils close, but not touching, could you work with a second non-conductive thread, spiraling both out from the center together, and couching over both at intervals?
Plusea (author)  yoyology1 year ago
yes, this is a good idea that should work. i did something similar, but didn't make use of the isolation coil to make the conductive coil tighter/closer together. you could also at first stitch the conductive coil super close to itself and then go back over it with a non-conductive thread to isolate it using an embroidery stitch that completely covers it.
>> http://www.flickr.com/photos/plusea/8231428877/in/set-72157630984172386
Very cool! You should enter it into the A/V contest!
Plusea (author)  Penolopy Bulnick1 year ago
thanks for the tip!
thats sooo sweet!
agm881 year ago
i can now put a speaker in my jacket and not worry about the bulkyness
snotty1 year ago
Very nice! Now someone make a hat or hoodie or soft headphones and post them here please.
randofo1 year ago
This is really cool. This is a great idea. You can do some awesome things with this.