Hi everyone! Well this is my first instructable and so, I'm sorry if this isn't really good but I'll happily accept advices and comments about. So well LET'S BEGIN!
Well everything began 2 years ago, I LOVE LEDS and I had the idea to make a led lava stone cube inspired on some instructables I saw around here. And well I did it and then ended up on my desk for years...and now that I'm in winter break (most of you are in summer but oh well I live in southamerica), I made a brainstorm to get some ideas about what could my project be for this free time...so I had LED's and a lot of ideas in my head so I just began to make a lot of research and get some inspiration. I didn't really know what would I do but then I suddenly looked at my little cube and got the idea: why can't I make some big led lava stone speakers!
So yeah, I had some old broken speakers in my room so I took them, I made some research and well....here the project began!
I wanted to share this project because it's a really good one and I'm really satisfied with it, so well here I'm gonna try to give you every single detail with a lot of videos and pictures to help you, and of course, you can ask anything and I'll do my best to answer and help you with it, so well LET'S GO!
Step 1: Getting Some Knowledge Before Beginning
Okay, so I really think that you'll need some knowledge and skills about the basic electronics...it's not that hard, but well, I'll be happy to help any beginer.
So first of all I needed to decide what exactly my project would look and be like, so well I wanted speakers witht this lava stone design using my favourites blue LED's and making them dance at the rythm of music...so what I needed was a circuit for making the LED's dance with the music....I made some research and found this circuit:
Of course I have to give the credits to who got me the circuit so that's the link if you want to see the full information about how the circuit works, anyway I added a pic of the circuit here.
He used a mic for the audio signal...but we didn't want that, so of course we would use the amplifier audio signal instead the mic, which would make it work the same way because it's an audio signal, so well, I had the circuit, the amplifier and speakers....what was left to get? OF COURSE! The materials to build it.
Step 2: Materials
Okay so I needed a transparent material so the LED's would light up through it...so the best idea I got was to use CD boxes! Yes, they are transparent and also so resistant, which would give my speakers a solid body, but well here it's the complete list of materials: (I'll put a similar price of the materials I used)
- CD boxes (I used 4 boxes. I had some at home, but if you buy them they will be around 3$)
- Speakers set (I used old broken ones, we just need the circuit and the speakers from it. You can get nice and cheap ones for like 30$)
- Wax paper (1$)
- Black eva foam (2$)
- Flexible plastic thin tubes (I took them from the phosphorescent bracelets and I took off their liquid. It can be any plastic tube, it's all up to you)
- Some cardboard (1$)
- Transparent paper (I think it's called micapaper idk I'm sorry but I don't speak english, but costs like 0.50$)
Circuit: (I spent like 10$ in all the materials for the circuit)
- NPN Transistors BC547 (BC548 works also. We use 1 transistor for every LED we use in the circuit. If we wanna put 5 LEDs, then we need 5 transistors).
- 2 Resistors 10K ohm
- 1 Resistor 1M ohm
- Resistors 1K ohm* (please read at the bottom. Their quantity depends on how many LED's you use in the circuit).
- LED's (choose your own color and type, I used bright leds tht work with 3v)
- 1 Resistor 220 ohm
- Paralel cable
Total: around 47.5$ if you buy every single material
- Soldering iron machine
- Hot silicon gun
*Well these resistors are optional, it will depend on what kind of LED's you use and how much voltage you use. The amplifier and speakers that I used work with 12v, so I used the same voltage for the circuit...the sqemathics says 9v but the transformer I used had only 1A of current, which isn't a lot...because only the amplifier uses 1A, the circuit plus all the leds use more current, but well I'll explain that later....for now just get all the main materials and we'll check that later.
Step 3: The Body
Okay so the first thing that we will do, is to set the main structure of the body with the cd boxes. So we will take off the stuff inside the boxes and will only use the transparent plastic of it. So we will glue it with the hot silicon gun and form 90 degrees with them. I did that with the 4 CD boxes, that's gonna be the main body of the speakers.
Step 4: Taking Out the Electronics From the Amplifier
After preparing the body we will go to the electronics from the speakers I have.
So well, the first thing is to disassembly everything. Take off the speakers and the amplifier. So we will ned to disolder all the cables, but don't forget the polarity of every cable.
In my case, my amplifier has the main board, where one of the speakers goes directly connected to it, then an RCA output that goes to the second speaker, and then we have the output, which is an auxiliar connector that will go connected to the sound source that we want to use. So I'll disolder the speakers and the audio signal. Don't forget to remember where every cable goes connected so you can put it back later.
Step 5: Planning and Designing
Okay so I made a little scheme to show basically how I'll connect everything. So the audio IN of the amplifier will be connected also to the audio IN of the LED driver. And we will feed both circuits with the same voltage source, so we will connect it in paralel to give both circuits the same quantity of voltage. The amplifier works with 1A and 12v, and the LED driver works with 9-12v, but the current of the driver will depend on how many LED's you connect to it, I connected 10 LED's to the circuit, using 5 transistors. So the every transistor turns on 2 LED's. And all that consumes apreoximately 1.5 Ampers. So we will need a power supply of 12v and 1.5 amp.
Every step till this point is in the first part of my video tutorial, please watch it to get more details about it:
Step 6: Cut the CD Boxes
Okay, so now we will cut the CD boxes for putting the speakers inside them. So we will mark the size of the speakers on them and then cut it. I used a cutter and passed it many times till it got cut, but you can use better tools of course.
Don't worry if it's not perfectly cut, we just want the circle to fit the same size of the speakers to make them fit well.
Step 7: The LED Driver Circuit
Okay, here it comes the hard part. For this step you'll need a bit of electronic knowledge, and if you don't know a lot about it, it's better you to ask for help to someone who knows more about this matter.
However, this step is optional, I wanted to make a circuit on a copper plate because that's the way I like to design my own circuits, but you can leave it done on a protoboard, or even, make your own design on any pcb software and print it. I choose the quick way to do it. Sharpie
So well the first thing to do is to design how the circuit will be, I first did it in a paper folowing the scheme (I also attached it again above), and there is something really important I need to say about this: there's a mic in the scheme but, of course, it doesn't need to be a mic, it can be any audio source. That's why we will use the source from the amplifier and instead a mic, we will use the auxiliar doing the same thing.
After that, I took a copper plate and drew the circuit with a sharpie marker and cut the copper plate at the right size I needed; of course you can just leave it in the protoboard or make it with a pcb or however way you want. But well, the next thing to do is to take some ferric acid.
What the ferric acid does, is to eat all the copper that does not have sharpie, so that's the way how the circuit will be drawn with the copper. The way I do it, is with a light bulb...so that way I'll have a bit of heat and the acid will react faster against the copper. So I put the acid inside a plastic jar and then put the copper plate inside it. And what's next to do, is to shake the jar softly (trying not to drop it because it's easy to get things ruined with it, be careful), and shaking the jar plus the little heat from the bulb will make the acid to eat the copper faster than normally.
So once you can see that there's no copper anymore, you can take out the copper plate from the acid, then wash the copper plate and DO NOT THROW THE ACID IN THE TOILET, because yes, you know all the stuff into the toilet go to the sea and they contaminate the environment and we do not want that. So after using the acid you can throw it but on the ground or somewhere where it won't contaminate in any way. What I do is to keep it into other plastic jars so I can use it the next time I want to make a circuit. But the more you use it, the less quick will eat the copper. And at some time it won't eat it at all. So that's when you need to get new acid haha.
Anyway! after washing the copper plate, we will need to take off all the marks that we did with the sharpie marker. For this you can use alcohol or diluent or something similar. I used alcohol. And after taking it all away, you'll be able to see the clear copper that wasn't eaten by the acid. You can look at the pictures I uploaded.
The next step is to drill the copper plate, so that way we can soldering the components. Generally I use 1mm drill for the components, and 2mm drill for cables. But this time I didn't have my 1mm drill so I used the 2mm for all the holes. I also put a picture of that so you can see it.
And the last step here, is to solder all the components to the copper plate, following the design you did before.
I hope this step won't be so difficult, but anyway (as I said before) you can do it the way you want. It's not necessary for it to be in a copper plate.
After soldering, you can test the single circuit by putting a mic as the scheme shows and just put music near it or clap your hands and the LED should turn on.
I also wanna add a note here. An IMPORTANT NOTE:
So well, in the circuit is shown that we need to use 1K ohm resistors between the emitter and ground, but that's for low voltage LED's (generally they work with 2.1 volts) but I didn't use those. I used bright LED's which work with 3v and upper, so for making them turn bright we will need to lower the value of the resistor....I would advice to use 470 Ohm, but it will still depend on how many LED's you connect.
What I did, was to not only connect 1 single LED to every transistor, instead of one LED, I connected two but in parallel, so that way, even putting 100ohms resistor woulndn't be enough, so I didn't put any resistor at all, and also I put 5 transistors in my circuit. So connecting 2 LED's to every transistor would make me use 10 LED's in total. 5 transistors and 10 LED's is a lot of current, plus the current that the amplifier uses would be a lot of current. That's why I didn't put any resistor at all, so I would get the brightest light from the LED's.
What I recomend is to test with different resistors depending on the LED's that you use, go lowering the resistors till you get the brightness that you want. Be careful not to burn the LED's.
Everything explained here is in the following video, please watch it for getting more info about this project:
Step 8: Protoboard Circuit (optional)
Okay so I've got some question from someone. Well you don't need to make the circuit in a copper board like I did. As I said it can be done on protoboard or pcb or anything that you know how to work on better. If you need help for the circuit I'm putting the link again here:
You can get a lot of info about how to make the circuit on there. Also I've made a simulation on virtual protoboard to show you the connections if you need help with that. I tried to show all the connections so you can re make it yourself (look at the pictures above). By the way I've put a light bulb because there was no mic or something similar to simulate it but where the light bulb is, is where you'll connect the audio input from the amplifier.
Step 9: Preparing the Circuits
Okay so now we will prepare the CD boxes for holding the speakers and the main amplifier board.
So well, the first thing is to drill the holes for the control of the amplifier (so mine has a potentiometer, which is also the interruptor at the same time, then an LED to show that it's on, and an auxiliar output), so I did the 3 holes for that.
Then I made the holes for holding the speaker in place, so I could put screws to attach them to the CD boxes.
After that, I glued another box to form the first cube. So two CD boxes form a big cube.
Then I needed to make the base of the speakers, It could have been something more solid but I think cardboard as enough to hold it, things aren't that heavy and also we want something which won't conduce electricity so cardboard seems perfect. I glued it at the bottom.
I placed the board on it but it wasn't high enough, so I had the idea to make a little plataform that will hold the board at the right height. It worked perfectly.
All about this step is better explained in the following video:
Step 10: Making the Speakers Look Cool
Okay so now I wanted to give the speakers a better look, so I took the phosphorescent bracelets and took off their liquid to get those interesting plastic tubes. It doesn't need to be this, you can use tubes for sipping or anything similar, I just wanted to make them look like some neon tube haha.
So well I first glued the LED's to the extremes of the cubes, I tested it and it didn't look bad so...
Well I used two parts of the tube to light up one speaker (as it can be seen in the pictures), so I used 2 LED's per tube (in each extreme), so 4 LED's per speaker (look at the pics). And I connected them all in parallel, so that' how they will turn on.
The next thing was how would we turn them on, so well, I would use the voltage directly from the power source plus a resistor in serie. That would be enough to turn them on, so I drilled the holes to pass the cables of them. I used 220 ohms resistor, it will depend on how many LED's you put and what kind of LED's, but as I said before just try high value resistors and go lowering their value till you get the brightnes you want (if you don't know anything about resistors).
Step 11: Covering the Body
So here it's where we need the wax paper!
Once we've glued the boxes together to form the body of the speakers, we will cover it all with the wax paper. I have a really big size so it will be enough. I used a stick bar, it worked nice....and here we don't need to care about the bubbles that we might get, because later, it will be covered by the eva foam so don't worry, I didn't stick them well anyway haha.
But well, after that we are gonna make the holes that we did before, it's not hard, so I re made the holes for the speakers and everything but this time on the wax paper.
Here's the video tutorial part for the following step:
Step 12: Adding More to the Circuit
Now the hard part...I'll try my best to explain everything...anyway I made the schemes before but well I hope you guys can understand all the details.
So well, we have a DC input in the amplifier board (look at the pics), but I don't need it where it is, I need it separated from the board so I can glue to the back of my speakers body. I disolded the DC connector and solded it with the parallel cable. Then I glued to some cardboard and I added a lot of layers to reach the height I wanted it to be. Pics will speak better than me.
After that, I connected the voltage input from the LED driver to the voltage input of the amplifier (as in the schemes showed before), so now they are connected in parallel and will work with the same voltage. Also, my amplifier board does not have an interruptor, the interruptor is the same as the potentiometer...so when I turn up the potentiometer, the circuit will turn on. So I connected the positive of the LED driver to the potentiometer, so that way it will turn on at the same time of the amplifier, and the negative goes to the DC connector. I hope you understand that part, anyway I tried to show as many pictures as I could.
Then I needed to solder the audio signal input...but I didn't wanna use the same cable, because it's anoying and later it might get ripped or broken, so what I did was to put an AUX (auxiliar) connector, the female jack connector....yes I don't speak english and idk if this word is correct. BUT ANYWAY, the jack connector will be solded to the audio saignal input in the LED driver (the mic input in the original scheme) and it will also be connected to the audio input of the amplifier (where it was connected at the beginning).
For more info look at the pictures.
I also added the same cardboard layers under the jack connector so it will be at the height I want it to be.
Then I made a second hole at the back. So now they are two holes:
1. For the DC connector
2. for the jack connector
Step 13: Connecting the Neon Tubes (not Real Neon But Simulation Hah)
Okay so now, we need to put it all inside.
So well I glued everything inside, the connectors and everything we needed. But there is something I did before. I added a parallel cable connected in parallel with the power source where the neon tubes will go connected. You can look at the sketch I did in the pictures before to get it clear. But basically 3 things will be feeded with the 12v from the DC connector:
- First one, the amplifier
- Then, the LED driver circuit
- And last thing: the neon tubes plus a resistor
So, all that will be connected in parallel with the power source (means positive with positive and negative with negative, so it will all get the same quantity of voltage).
The neon tubes will also be connected in parallel. So the negative from the DC connector goes directly to the negative of the tubes, but between the positive of the tubes and the positives of the DC connector, there will be a resistor. This one will be chosen again depending on the LEDs you are using and the quantity of LEDs. I put a 220 ohm resistor and got a nice brightness.
So then I tested it and looked awesome.
After all of this, I tested the LED driver circuit and I realized that the 1k ohm resistors where too high for my LEDs, so I took off the circuit from inside and tested with different resistors till I realized I didn't have to use any resistor at all. So well I'm glad I told you this guys before, because taking off the circuit from inside and then putting it back was hell.
Before going ahead with any of the steps, test every single thing that you are doing so at the end you can make sure that it will work fine.
Step 14: Setting Up the LEDs
Anddd another hard part. Yes it's not as easy as it looks.
So, we need to light up the inside with the LEDs and connect them to the LED driver board. As I said before, I used 2 LEDs per transistor.
I connected pairs of LEDs in parallel, and then I had to connect them to the transistors.
The next thing was a real problem that got me thinking for some time: how would I light up all the inside of the speakers with such a little ammount of LEDs? And well, I got the idea to separate it all in 3 "floors", that's how I called it. So the first floor would be at the bottom of the speakers and it would have 4 LEDs, the second floor would be in the middle of all with 4 LEDs more, and the last floor would only have 2 LEDs and they would light up the top of the speakers. And that's what I did.
I made the "floors" with long pieces of cardboard, I folded the extremes of them so they would be perfect to hold the LEDs between the inside walls.
I first connected the first floor and glued it. Then the second one and glued it too. And the last floor would have LEDs in the middle of it to light up the top of the speakers.
Was really hard to connect it all inside the speakers but I DID IT. Hope it won't be that hard for you guys.
Step 15: Closing It All
Okay so once we've connected everything inside and glued it all....we no just have to close the body. Here it's where I used the micapaper, so I cut a square of the same size of the top and glued it. So then I repeated the step and covered the top with wax paper. Now it's all closed and ready to be finished.
Before closing it all and gluing it I checked and made sure that the amplifier was working and the LED driver too and everything was working just fine. I adivice you to do that too before gluing the top.
Step 16: The End
So now we've reached the fun part. I needed a good lava design so I looked for one on the internet and found a nice one to work on (I also uploaded it for you guys to see it).
Now we will use the black eva foam, it's fun to work with. I used my cutter to give nice ends and details to it. I tried to follow the lava picture but of course made my own modifications to it and also made the spaces for the speakers and everything...it took hours but was really fun. The results were really nice.
So well guys, here it where it all ends....
I hope you liked it, I tried to explain it all the best way I could and I also uploaded all the pictures I could to show every single detail. I also uploaded those steps and much more in youtube so you can see a walkthrough all the work I did. I hope it's gonna be useful for you if you want to make this project.
And well someone has asked me to upoad a video with the real sound of the speakers, so check the real sound of them here:
If you have any comments or questions don't doubt to post it and ask me, I'll try to answer everything as soon as I can guys.
Have a nice work and great projects, gdluck!