Everyone wants speakers, but they are often very expensive, and aren't portable at all. Chances are the you have received a lot of those holiday or birthday cards that sing to you when you open them. Maybe you got an undesirable present that happens to have a speaker inside of it. In this Instructable, I am going to show you how to make your own speakers from stuff you have lying around the house, and then put them inside an Altoids tin. Not only will they look cool, but they will also be portable and very functional. They work with ANY device that accepts 3.5 mm audio jacks, and as of today, most devices do, such as iPods, iPhones, iPads, MP3 players, MP4 players, and many more. You won't have to buy a single thing for this Instructable. These speakers can easily fit in your pocket!
Step 1: Understanding Speakers
Diaphragm: The diaphragm is the flexible cone on a speaker that vibrates up and down. It produces sound waves by causing a series of rarefaction when the diaphragm moves back and forth. This rarefaction forms a wave of different pressures that meets your ear and causes your eardrum to move back and forth as well. The brain will translate this movement into sounds! The diaphragm is more commonly referred to as the cone, and is usually made of paper,plastic, rubber, metal, or other materials.
Suspension: Suspension is a material that runs outside the diaphragm. When the diaphragm needs to moves up and down, the suspension allows it to. It is usually made of rubber, or other flexible materials.
Basket: The basket is the metal frame that surrounds the driver.
Spider: The spider is a flexible material located underneath the diaphragm and is attached to the basket. The spider is important because it holds the voice coil in place and allows it to move up and down.
Voice Coil: The voice coil is a coil of wire wrapped around a magnet. When, electricity is run through the wire, the coil moves up and down. Since the voice coil is attached to the cone and the spider, the cone and spider will move up and down when the voice coil does.
Dome: Many speakers have a dome instead of a diaphragm. The dome is almost exactly like a diaphragm except that a dome is slightly con-vexed.
Headphones and Earbuds: Headphones and earbuds are just two small speakers positioned around or inside your ear. They provide a more private listening experience.
Hear is a link to a great website that shows you how speakers work in greater detail:
Now that you have a basic understanding of speakers, we can proceed to the building of our project.
Step 2: Gather Your Materials and Tools
A speaker (speakers can be obtained from all sorts of items, including those singing greeting cards. I will be using a speaker I got from a Hallmark singing greeting card for this project).
Spare Headphones or Earbuds: Please don't use your brand new headphones!! I am not responsible for any damage you do to your headphones. Use headphones or earbuds that you don't mind losing, such as the kind they give out on airplane flights. These headphones or earbuds must have a 3.5 mm audio jack, or whatever type of audio port you are going to be plugging these speakers up to.
Foam (optional): About 1/2 inch thick
Craft Felt (optional): For decoration
Empty Altoids Tin: Use a tin that will fit your speaker with sufficient room left
The tools for this project are:
Flathead Screwdriver: Must be flat head
Hot glue gun with hot glue
Candle and matches (or a lighter)
Drill (to make life easier)
Now that you have gathered everything you need, lets begin!!
Step 3: Preparing Your Speakers Part 1
In my case, I have a Hallmark Singing Card, so in order to remove the speaker, first open the card normally. The card will begin singing. If you look at the right half of the card, you will see two layers of paper. Tear of the top layer and remove the speaker and its circuitry. Most likely the speaker will be attached to the back paper with a strong adhesive, so be careful and make sure you do not disconnect any wires. The circuitry contains a 3 volt cell battery, so you may want to salvage the battery before throwing the circuit away.
Once you have removed the speaker and circuitry, use your flat head screwdriver to remove the wires from the circuitry, BUT DO NOT REMOVE THE WIRES FROM THE SPEAKERS (see the picture). Now you will have a speaker with two insulated wires. Once again, use your screw driver to press down on the wires and remove the insulation. You may use other forms of wire stripping if you please. Remove about a quarter inch of insulation.
Now lets move on to Step 4, where we will continue to prepare the speaker.
Step 4: Preparing Your Speakers Part 2
There are three ways to support these wire connections:
Tape (Electrical or Masking)
No matter which material you choose to apply, make sure that when you turn the speaker back over, you shouldn't be able to see what ever you use to support the connections. I used hot glue because I didn't have any solder or tape. If you are using hot glue or solder, be sure not to apply too much, but don't apply too little. If you are using tape, be sure that you use enough as to where the connections are secure, but you can't see the tape when you look at the speaker from the front. Securing the connections is very important because if one of the connections were to fail, the speakers will not work. If you do not care about the appearance of your speaker, you can use as much tape, hot glue, or solder as you desire. Please look at the images I provided if you need help.
If you are using two speakers, repeat steps 3-4 onto the other speaker.
Congrats, you have fully prepared your speakers. Now lets move on to Step 5 where you will prepare your headphones/earbuds.
Step 5: Preparing Your Headphones Part 1
Once you have laid down your headphones/earbuds, cut the cables near the ear piece using your scissors (there are two individual cables, each connecting to one ear bud or headphone). Now, strip off about 2 inches of insulation on the two cables using your flat head screw driver. Once you have stripped the cables, you should see two wires in each cable, and hopefully they are different colors. Usually, one cable will have a red and copper wire, while the other will have a blue and copper wire. The copper wire is sometimes black, and is called the ground wire (negative). The colored wires are the positive wires.
Once you have stripped both cables, cut off one of the cables completely, BUT ONLY IF YOU ARE USING ONE SPEAKER. IF YOU ARE USING TWO SPEAKERS, DO NOT CUT ANY OF THE CABLES OFF. PEOPLE USING TWO SPEAKERS SHOULD MOVE ON TO STEP 6. However, if you are only using one speaker like I am, just pick one of the cables and cut it off, your choice doesn't matter. I am going to cut off the blue and copper cable because it didn't show up on camera to well. Now, if you only have one cable with two wires are the end, you are ready to proceed to step 6, where we will continue to prepare the headphones.
Step 6: Preparing Your Headphones Part 2
In this step, you will need your candle and matches, or your lighter. You will also need the cable you just finished in Step 5, and a cup of water for safety. First, light your match or lighter. If you are using matches, use the match to light the candle. Now, take the cable with the two wires from Step 5. You will notice that one cable is colored. This coloring is actually an insulation that prevents the wire from being connected to anything else. This insulation is very thin, so you need to use a flame to burn it off. To do this, hold the two wires in the flame until the color fades off and the wires turn black or a dark bronze. Don't hold the wire in the flame for too long, or it will completely burn off. If you are using two speakers, do this on both cables.
When disposing of matches, soak them in water and then wrap them in aluminum foil before throwing them away.
Once you have sufficiently removed the color from both wires, you can move on to Step 7, where we will prepare the Altoids Tin.
Step 7: Prepare the Altoids Tin
Step 8: Add Foam
Step 9: Add Felt
You can decorate your speakers however you like. Paint, stickers, whatever you want is okay!
Congrats!! Your Altoids Portable Speakers are done and ready for travel!!
Step 10: Demonstration
Thank you so much for viewing this Instructable. I hope you enjoyed, and please leave a comment. Thank you!