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Make a Speaker and Amplifier without complicated electonics

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For a while now I have wanted to make an audio amplifier, but I haven't really had any good opportunities or means to the end. When I found out about the Mono Audio Amp Breakout from Sparkfun, I started to get exited. Its perfect for what I wanted. It's effective and soldering in the right wire is no more difficult than setting up a regular sound system. Not to mention how great it looks in that laser cut mirrored acrylic case. Enough Talk. What does it sound like?



 
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Step 1: Materials and Tools

Speakers 020.jpg
Speakers 021.jpg
Speakers 024.jpg
Hardware
1 USB  micro jack
2 Potentiometers, not logarithmic, mine are logarithmic and there is a narrow range of control now
2 Mono Audio Amp Breakout Boards
Solder
1 Switch
1 3.5 mm jack
Wire
8 bolts and nuts of appropriate sizes

Tools(This is what I used, you could probably get away with less)
Soldering Iron
Drill
JB weld
Sand paper
Helping hands are practically a necessity, but if you are dextrus enough you might slide by without them
Chisel and hammer, Theses come in really handy when I find out my laser cut design wast good enough, which is often.

Step 3: Prepare the laser cut acrylic

I got it the acrylic laser cut at Ponoko. After it came I removed it from its protective layers and tested them for fit.
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Wrynsky1692 months ago

Hello, I was wondering if you had a link to the sketch-up design, or details on how to make it. I will get the plugin for Ponoko, but I don't know how to recreate the design.

Nice 'ible, I'm using it as inspiration for a school project!

Ploae Ionut9 months ago

too complicated!!!!!

nerd74739 months ago

http://www.adafruit.com/products/1712

I need help, how do I wire this to two AA batteries and a headphone jack to go to a 3" 2.5W speaker?

I am wanting to make a mini mono amp with input for phone or guitar.

nerd7473 nerd74739 months ago

The link is to a stereo 2.8W Amplifier breakout

TheGreatS (author)  nerd74739 months ago

Adafruit has a great tutorial for this.

http://learn.adafruit.com/adafruit-tpa2016-2-8w-ag...

Here is the page you are probably looking for.

http://learn.adafruit.com/adafruit-tpa2016-2-8w-ag...

Happy Making!

thanks for the link I will buy this soon

doosantech10 months ago
BRAVO.... I've been wanting to build one for my car for a few years now but I lack the knowledge of electronic components to do so... hints this question I'm about to a ask....lol... I'm trying to add a remote bass knob to my amp that was soupossed to just plug in via a phone jack...but my amp lacks the jack... I want to replace the potentiometer on the amp with a phone jack, any chance you could be of any assistance if you have the time?
for future reference, you would get more bass and better sound out of it if you cut a vent about 1-1.5" circle in the back.
TheGreatS (author)  purple people1 year ago
Thanks! I'll remember that.
Fozzibehr1 year ago
I Like Your instructable, but I was wondering if there was something like this for a higher powered boombox?
wdsims631 year ago
Next time, grab some heat shrink tubing and slip it on the wire before you put it back together. Looks better and won't slip off accidentally.
TheGreatS (author)  wdsims631 year ago
If only I had the money to buy heat shrink and a heat gun. :'(
Maybe someday...
Heat shrink isn't that much and a quick passby with a lighter and you can shrink the tube. Or if you have a variable temperature soldering iron use that at the lowest possible heat to shrink it.
TheGreatS (author)  smoak1 year ago
I was actually just watching some Adafruit videos and saw them use the back of the soldering iron. Brilliant! I'm definitely going to buy some as soon as I can get to the store.
Outstanding tutorial! Timely as well. I am building small speakers for a workstation as I have some perfectly suited drivers laying around. Since viewing your excellent tutorial, I am contemplating a few changes to the plan; Why not attempt an amp?
Thanks and regards.
TheGreatS (author)  marksstudio1 year ago
This is and amp, as far as my understanding of an amp goes (quite signal goes in, less quite signal comes out), but there are certainly better (and louder) options out there that offer way more control over what comes out of them. But my goal was to amplify speakers for a laptop, so anything that required more than the 5 volts would not have worked out well for this project.
Firstly, I think him saying "I am contemplating a few changes to the plan; Why not attempt an amp?" was about his plan. Since he already had a plan to do basically this but without an amp, you're 'ible made him want to add an amp.

Secondly, I decided the other night I was going to make an old set of computer speakers USB instead of wall-wart. With one of the speakers having the amp inside and the other just the speaker (as it already was done that way). So this made me think, why not move the amp to a separate box and then have to plug the speakers into the amp, that way I can add more sockets for speakers (maybe boosting the amp a little prior) and can have as few or as many (within reason) speakers as I want! So thanks for the 'ible. Gave me some ideas on how to change things about.
techhobbit1 year ago
You are a genius! This is a beautiful piece; the extra care in size comparisons brought tears to my eyes. The combination of SparkFun, a SketchUp designed/Ponoko cut, morror finished acrylic case, and Sugru, puts this ible in the top 1%! (IMHO)
And, its a well done, and thorough instructable! Great job!
tseay1 year ago
I really like your style. And here is a little suggestion. All that nice plastic will direct LED lights to the edge giving a nice glow on those awesome laser cuts. It will take a bit more power, but a LED glow, would give your project more awe points.
TheGreatS (author)  tseay1 year ago
I wish that would happen, but to get the mirrored effect on this acrylic it has an opaque backing on it. But I like that idea a lot. Diffused acrylic plus the LED's would really make this amp super awesome. I'll remember that for a future project.

Thanks for the complements!
Personally I would refrain from using the USB as a means of power, unless it´s a must like these being laptop speakers or something like this, I would also have included a power jack for a cheap switching power supply, pretty small these days and light, not making themselves a problem carrying around. So if the USB power supply is a must you might think of adding an electrolytic capacitor at the input rail, helps with the bass frequencies.
Apart from that that´s a really nice project, I love the case! Keep it up mate!
TheGreatS (author)  Trickynekro1 year ago
Yes, this is for a laptop. Naturally I would have chosen better amps if I didn't need this to be small(ish) and powered solely off a laptop.
cody3051 year ago
This looks very useful and easy to do! Does this one (or do you know of one) that also has a "tone" or "bass and treble" controls? On a related note, I have been wanting to make a preamp for my main audio amp that has AVC (automatic volume control) to help limit the volume excursions on movies or music that can really overwhelm folks with delicate hearing. Do you know where to get something like that? Thanks for a great "ible"
TheGreatS (author)  cody3051 year ago
No, this one only has volume control. From what I've seen on his web site (here) you would be better off talking to this guy for almost anything dealing with audio.
wdsims631 year ago
So, you have a volume knob for each channel? Did you know that you can get stereo volume knobs?
I like the look of those knobs though.
TheGreatS (author)  wdsims631 year ago
Yes, for the knob for each channel, and no to the stereo volume knobs, but thanks for sharing. Looking back I really should have done more research before starting oh the project. Oh well, at least it works. That's more than I could ask for for many of the other projects.
These sorts of little kits are brilliant.

http://www.jaycar.com.au/productView.asp?ID=KC5152

Especially if you are listening to speaker tapes, a fully OPEN speaker mounted on a post, makes for a very good speaker set up.


By open I mean glue a speaker onto a piece of wood, and have it free standing in the ear about the average head height - sitting or standing.

No cabinet - no box....

Little MP3 player and a whole heap of "recovery tapes".


A little 2 or 5W solar panel and a battery and all that = a brilliant low power, 24/7 audio system.

TheGreatS (author)  Wroger-Wroger1 year ago
That's nice! Do they sell the connectors that go with it, or would one just solder wires onto the pins?
or you can crazy and use TDA 2050 chips and build completly from the ground up
TheGreatS (author)  DustySeven71 year ago
That kind of defeats the purpose of the "without complicated electronics" part of this instructable, which was kind of the main purpose here. But the plus side of your method is I would get more control over my the amp, which for some people is a must. For anyone else reading this comment, there is a great tutorial on making an audio amp with the TDA 2050 chips here.
nerd74731 year ago
did you get all of the boards from sparkfun?
TheGreatS (author)  nerd74731 year ago
Yes indeed!
that is cool
MartyMart1 year ago
Nice ible! However, this will save you time and money. DealExtreme has a DUAL channel 3 x 3 watt amp for $3 :) It even has the wire leads w/ plugs attached! See here:

Mini Digital 3W+3W Amplifier Module Board

They also have some sweet tiny 3 watt speakers

I just built a guitar amp with these and let me tell you they are awesome! 


TheGreatS (author)  MartyMart1 year ago
Those are amazing! If I ever do this again I will definitely be using those.
This is the reason I love instructables. Those with another way are always happy to share. 
I hear you bro! This site has fueled my fire too! I've done a lot of research on battery powered amps and somehow stumbled on that DX 3x3. Good find to say the least.

That said, nothing wrong with going old school and building one!!!
netgrazer1 year ago
Nice 'ible!
One remark though:
For size comparison neither a "270 shell", or a Sugru sachet, or that coin thingie make a lot of sense to people who have never seen them. A match or a CD/DVD/BR for example are ubiquitous in all cultures and will probably still be around in a couple of years. A ruler (with both imperial and metric? :) ) works well, too.
TheGreatS (author)  netgrazer1 year ago
Its about the size (looking at the Sparkfun website) of a US quarter dollar, which is (looking at Wikipedia) about 24 mm (that is a little under an inch) in diameter and (again Wikipedia) 1.7 mm in thickness. If you aren't close to a ruler, or don't feel like searching for one online, the mono amp is about half the length of a AA battery, 2 times bigger than minimal wavelength of the super high frequency band and about the length of a microwave (that is the electromagnetic wave, not the appliance). It takes light roughly 80 picoseconds (that is 1/12500000000 of a second) for light to travel the length of the mono amp in a vacuum, naturally not in Bose-Einstein condensate, in which it takes about 1413/1000000 seconds, which is sufficiently slower. By the way I sure hope the speed of light stays constant from today to tomorrow and from society to society. I don't want to know what would happen if it suddenly changed.
That second link to society is mouthwatering don't you think?
Enjoy :)

P.S. As a matter of fact I do like Wikipedia. I use it all the time. And as you can probably tell I also like Hyperlinks.
TheGreatS (author)  TheGreatS1 year ago
Sorry. The second link to society was suppose to be this and the smiley face this.

there are some good stripboard layouts for amps/stereo amps and a lot of other stuff here
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