Hanging Glass Speakers

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Introduction: Hanging Glass Speakers

Before I get into all of the details pertaining to how I made these I would like to give a shoutout to fellow instructable member randofo and his glass speaker instructable which inspired me to make my own set, but with a twist.

Alright, enough introductions lets get into it!
First off I'd like to say, if you aren't a picky audiophile and want a set of speakers that looks insanely awesome then this instructable is for you!
You are most likely wondering what exactly is a glass speaker? As randofo put it, "[T]his set of speakers resonates glass to produce sound. While this may seem complicated, the technical explanation is actually rather simple. Each speaker has a tactile transducer attached to the center, which is a device that vibrates the glass to produce sound waves."

You may be wondering how they sound and how well they work. Well the best way to describe it would be "glassy," if you ever get a listen you will understand. It has a very distinct sharp sound to it. The bass is surprisingly strong, and since the sound produced on a large surface (a lot larger than a regular speaker) you can actually feel and see it. One downside of these speakers is that the highs seem to get cut off and muffled slightly. To fix that I would suggest using thinner glass, although you'd run the risk of it shattering.
An additional interesting aspect of these speakers is that sound is produce on both sides of the speaker and it is not a one directional speaker. This seems to fill the entire room with sound better than conventional speakers.

Here is a video of the final result (keep in mind, the microphone on my phone doesn't do justice for the actual sound quality).

Anyways, enjoy the instructable!

Step 1: Materials

Hardware:
2 - Panes of 1/4 inch thick storm glass 12x20in
10ft - 1/16in steel cable
12ft - 18ga speaker wire
4 - 1/4in Heavy-duty wall anchors and 1/4in eyebolts
6 - 1/16in wire clamps
2 - Tactile transducers
1 - Lepai Amplifier 
1 - Roll of electrical tape

Tools:
Drill
3/8in boring bit
Dremel
Dremel drill bit
Wrench
Ruler/Measuring tape
Marker
Protractor

Step 2: Glass Panes


The main part of these speakers is obviously the panes of glass that resonate to produce the sound.

I knew that I wanted glass speakers for my room I just did not know where place them. These are not your average sized speakers and they take up some serious space, I had a small room so I was conflicted on where to place them.
Ingeniously my father suggested that I hang them from the ceiling.

The next problem I faced was how exactly to hang them. I decided that the best plan of attack would be to drill holes and thread a cable through.

Drilling through glass is a whole lot easier than it sounds. At first I tried using a regular "glass" drill bit and handheld drill but that proved to make unsightly holes and eventually led to me accidentally cracking off the corner of one of the panes and having to get them recut (They were originally going to be 12x24in, although I am glad they cracked as I like the smaller size 12x20). The best method for drilling holes through glass is using a Dremel and Dremel drill bit. It is much easier to make holes with a Dremel than a handheld drill, as the handheld drill slips when first trying to make a hole.

First, set the pane on a clean level surface and make sure nothing under it will crack or scratch it.
Next, make two marks in the corners on the ends of the panes 2 inches from the top and 2 inches in from the sides. They should be 8 inches apart.
After that, using the Dremel at level 7-8 begin drilling out the holes. I cannot stress enough that you need to have patience as you could easily end up with a broken corner. If you have experience working with a Dremel there is not much to say about the drilling process as it is quite straight forward.
I made the holes about 1/4 inch in size.

One last thing, WEAR A FACE MASK AND GOGGLES! This process creates immense amounts of fine glass dust that would be detrimental to your health if inhaled.

Step 3: Transducer Placement

After the drilling process is complete you will find the panes of glass covered in a nice fine glass powder. Clean them as much as possible, you want the transducer to stick very firmly in place.

Using a meter/yard, make an X in the middle by marking diagonally from corner to opposite corner. I, for some reason blanked out and found it by making a T which was a little more difficult but produced the same results.

Now that you have the marks made, flip over the panes and remove the wax paper from the two rings on the transducers. Carefully and firmly place them in the center. Make sure that both transducers are rotated the same way, ideally in a direction that the wires would hang down away from the holes that you had just made.

Speaking of wires, now is the time to roughly measure out 6ft for both speakers. Strip the ends of each side and attach to the transducer with whatever minimal soldering skills you may have. So don't comment saying I have crappy soldering skills, I know that.

To make the speakers easier to handle and for aesthetic purposes I lined the edges with electrical tape. In no way does is effect the sound. 

Step 4: Ceiling Prep

Now that the speakers are basically complete, you will need to find a suitable location to hang these masterpieces. I chose directly above my desk hanging 3ft apart facing inward at a 45 degree angle towards where I would be sitting.

Clear off your desk and hop up on it. Take a yard stick and measure 12 inches away from the wall make 2 or more marks in different locations. Draw a line that is 3 feet long centered over the middle of the desk. Next at the end of the lines make a 8 inch long 45 degree angle. The point of the angle and the end of the 8 inch line will be where the two holes will be to hang each speaker from the ceiling.

Take the 3/8 boring bit and begin to drill the holes. This is a very dusty process so make sure again that your desk is clear for easy clean up.

Step 5: Hanging the Speakers

Now that the holes have been drilled, clean them out and push the insulation out of the way. It is necessary that you clear them out completely otherwise the anchors will not full extend all the way, if you don't get them in correctly the first time there is no going back.

Insert the anchors and get them to extend fully. Once in place they will be able to support up to 80 pounds each. These things are seriously strong. Looking back, I feel I went a little overkill. If you attempt this I would suggest using smaller anchors and thus smaller holes will be drilled in your ceiling.

You will need the help of someone else for the final hanging, they can hold the pane of glass while you thread the cable through the holes on the glass, thread through the holes of the eyebolts, and tighten the wire clamps.

Once you get the speakers hanging adjust them to a height that is level and satisfies you.

Step 6: Finish

Congrats! You are now complete and have a awesome set of speakers that look so good they could be considered art!

Insert the ends of the wires into the amp while being mindful of Left/Right and Positive/Negative. Place all of your belongings back on your desk, kick back, and listen to some sweet tunes.

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    48 Discussions

    A sorry again I already figured out the last question but now I've got another one. How do you connect the speaker wire or the speakers themselves to the amplifier? I've read the instructions all over again and it says nothing about the amplifier... Will I need something to connect the wire? Will I just simply connect it??

    Hey, hello! So I'll use your amazing idea for my science fair but just one question: If I'm not into hanging them, what do you suggest me to use as support? I'll really thank somebody's answer

    Does the glass have to be flat? I think these would be awesome in a man shed if they were made out of two rear windscreens from a particular model vehicle (identical of course). My worry is the concave would lessen the arc of the sound produced. I suppose you could always just turn them around.

    1 reply

    I'd say this would not be a problem! As long as it arcs inwards towards you it might even work better than a flat plate. Remember that the cone of any speaker is always concaved inwards. I have a device called a vsoundbox, which is basically a wireless transducer which you can stick to almost anything, it works like a charm when I place it on my windshield while driving. Solid wooden table, piano, cabinet just about anything so your windshield will be fine!

    I have an entertainment center with glass panels that size, could I do this with them since they are already mounted to the cabinet?

    2 replies

    I think I will try rigging up some rubber gaskets and cut them to size on the top and bottom of where the glass and hinges come into contact, that should fix the problem

    quick note-

    PARTS EXPRESS has some new, interesting drivers:

    http://www.parts-express.com/promo/dayton_audio_exciters?Nao=0&Nrpp=16&keyword=dayton_audio_exciters&isPromotional=true&N=4294967118&Nrs=collection()/record[endeca:matches(.,"P_PortalID","1")

    can it work on plexiglass or polycarbonates? And does the transducer have to be at the middle? Can it be at the sides?

    3 replies

    It'll work. I'd put it in the center. I'm with you, it looks a little ugly. Maybe tint the window? If you put the transducer on the outer edge of the glass, you may not get a better tone. Sound is waves. Think of dropping a rock in the middle a pond that has water that is really smooth with no waves. As you drop the rock, you will see the waves radiate out from the impact point in a circular manner. Now think of the same pond, only drop the rock closer to the edge. Some waves will travel farther out into the pond, while others will terminate at the shoreline. Hope this helps! God Bless.

    I was thinking of plexiglass, just in case if it breaks, it won't be harmful around kids.
    Thanks for the input, I'll try building my own and post it here as well.

    Does the glass have to be tempered or plate? Or does it matter?

    1 reply

    andyru has it absolutely correct! The front and rear sound waves tend to cancel each other, especially at frequencies with wavelengths near the dimensions of the speaker. If you were to wrap the edges of the glass with some lightweight wood (wide picture frame style), creating a pseudo infinite baffle, which would increase the distance the sound waves travel from the front to the back, the high frequencies would return. Of course, you lose the great effect of the glass! Perhaps a frame of glass or clear/color acrylic. The driven glass panel should probably be acoustically isolated from any edge treatment to avoid mechanical dampening.

    Really enjoyed the project and the photos!

    -cgp

    3 replies

    Say, CGP, if I am to understand your comment, could I use a custom picture frame to accomplish the baffle? They typically come with cardboard backing and glass for the front. What if I used the glass in the back, behind the glass speaker plus frame? Would the cardboard do? Both? Or, would this be better accomplished by fabricating an open rectangular rear frame of, say, acrylic?

    Thanks, all, for the valuable insights. I had never ever heard of glass speakers before this. I'm going to use mine for entertaining and teaching my son.'.

    I appreciate the kind words.

    Last part 1st- almost ANY surface can vibrate enough to make sound- consider a wind-up music box mechanism. By itself, it makes almost no sound, but when you attach it to a soundboard (perhaps a wood, metal or plastic box) it becomes much louder, depending on the surface area and the flexibility (also referred to as damping factor) of the soundboard. Consider also the piano- vibrating strings, by themselves, are barely discernible. When the strings are attached to a piano's large, specially designed soundboard, the output is incredible!

    My comment about a frame to hold the glass sheet soundboard (or any flat-sheet soundboard) was to introduce a method of separating the front and rear sound waves, thereby helping prevent cancellation of the front and rear sound waves. It's called a "pseudo infinite baffle", very common in open-back guitar speaker cabinets.

    A true infinite baffle would be huge...

    I would also consider mounting a driver of this type off-center, to help reduce standing-wave patterns in the soundboard.

    FYI- these driver types have been around for decades- they were originally sold to turn an entire wall in your home into a speaker.

    You are absolutely correct, and this is why they are more suitable for in wall installations, including glass wall. where the rear is "walled off" from the front.

    The wall I installed the transducers has fiberglass insulation behind.

    Why not just use crimp blade connectors? No solder, and you can easily replace the wires if you want to mount them farther apart in the future.