Introduction: Make an IPod Speaker From a Hallmark Music Card

Picture of Make an IPod Speaker From a Hallmark Music Card
Ever get one of those cards for your birthday that plays music when you open it? Don't throw it away! With a little help from Tony the Tiger, you can use it as a speaker for your iPod.

Step 1: Required Materials

Picture of Required Materials

Hallmark Music Card
Old headphones
One empty cereal box from a Kellogg's Cereal Variety Pack - I used Frosted Flakes, but you can choose your favorite cereal. It will not impact the outcome of this project. ;-)
Glue Gun
Electrical tape
Utility knife
Not required, but helpful: Soldering iron

Step 2: Remove Speaker From Card

Picture of Remove Speaker From Card

Use a utility knife to cut along the top and bottom edge of the card to expose the speaker.

Cut the speaker wire at the base of the circuit board first and then gently remove the speaker from the card. If you don't cut the speaker wire first you could end up ripping the wire from the base of the speaker and then you'd really need a soldering iron.

The speaker is fixed to the card with a small circular piece of double sided tape, so it shouldn't be too difficult to remove. Avoid the urge here to use your utility knife to "cut away" the speaker - you could accidentally cut right into the speaker itself.

Finally, strip about a quarter inch of insulation from the wires.

Side note: In case you're wondering, the Hallmark card is powered by a CR2032 3V Lithium Battery. This is the key ingredient for making an LED Throwie and is the power house for a bunch of other Instructables. The battery isn't necessary for this Instructable, but holding on to it could prove to be handy down the road. ;-)

Step 3: Prep Headphones

Picture of Prep Headphones

Cut headphone wires at the base of each headphone (L & R). You'll only need one of the two lines so pick the one you want to use and cut the other where they converge mid-way down the length of the chord.

Next, strip the wires. You may notice some fiber-like material interlaced with the leads themselves. Strip this stuff out with your utility knife or you will not be able to get a solid connection from your headphones to the speaker (thanks to Richard at my local Radio Shack on that one). Alternatively, you can use a soldering iron to burn this stuff away. I found this method much easier and a bit more effective.

Step 4: Connect

Picture of Connect

Connect headphone wires to speaker wires. I'm not sure if it matters which ends you connect, but make sure you're getting sound before you seal the deal, so to speak.

Once you've connected your leads (again, soldering here is a good idea, but not necessary) insulate and tidy up the exposed connections with some electrical tape.

Step 5: Prep Cereal Box

Picture of Prep Cereal Box

You'll want to cut a whole slightly smaller than the full diameter of the speaker. Remember the nice beveled edge Hallmark utilized to fix it to the card with double sided tape? We'll want to do the same thing here. A 1.25" diameter hole should be perfect. There's a dashed line that runs through the middle of the box that will help center you up before you cut.

You'll also want to cut a small hole towards the bottom rear of the box to feed the headphone jack through. Feeding the wire through the back/bottom of the box not only makes it look nice, but also weights the box so that it doesn't fall forward on its face when you stand it up on end.

Step 6: Secure Speaker, Seal Box and Rock

Picture of Secure Speaker, Seal Box and Rock

Run a small amount of glue along the beveled edge of the speaker and quickly attach it inside the box. Hold it to give the glue a chance to dry. Secure it by adding some spots of glue along the top and bottom edges of the speaker where it meets the box. Try not to glob it on so that you don't add more weight. I ended up using way more than I should have, but it didn't make the box unstable.

Finally, glue back together the top and bottom of the box as it was originally sealed, connect an iPod and kick out the jams.


ewilhelm (author)2008-11-22

This project was mentioned on NPR's Weekend Edition Saturday!

coolsid71 made it! (author)2015-05-05

I just finished a test version for summer camp for kids at
our Computer Clubhouse at the Boys & Girls Club. It is a cool
project. I made some adjustments. Speaker on top and bottom, speaker
wire and mini jack and rubber feet. Kids will solder connections when
they create their own. The headphone wire I tried to use was causing
too many problems so we decided to go with speaker wire. We also
decided to try a design where it lays flat. It plays pretty loud from a
computer (mac) but from a cell phone and one of our PCs the volume only gets to an average sound
level. But still cool!!!!

link22 (author)2014-03-31

Dang! My dad put both wires from the headphones into both wires from the speakers and I didn't work. DO NOT DO THIS! It is unfixable,

Adambowker98 (author)2012-06-16

How loud is it?

link22 (author)Adambowker982014-03-31

As loud as the card played the audio

link22 (author)2014-03-31

Can I use a different heat source to burn away the fiber stuff?

droski21 (author)2012-12-12

hmmm... so do I cut before the wire splits or after? Thanks in advance =)

4lifenerdfighter (author)2012-03-01

So are the headphones just used for their TRS plug and the card just for its speaker? This Instructable is a bit hard to follow.


Noahslater16 (author)2012-02-05

Cool it works!!

mg9990 (author)2011-12-07

I made this video, based off of this instructable :) hope it helps anyyone. feel free to ask me questions

nickiek (author)2010-08-10

Im trying to use a set of ipod headphones for this and there are four wires in it. A green, red, a green and red, and a copper wire. im trying to attach them in almost all combinations and they are not working. any tips?

mg9990 (author)nickiek2011-12-04

Ok so what you need to do is separate the RED and COPPER wires from the headphones. You can tape the other 2 to the cable or cut them or keep them for adding a second speaker the same way. Then you need to take a lighter and burn the red and copper wires until they are black, but leave a little hint of color at the bottom so you can tell which is which. When you burn them, you will light the fiber insulation in the middle that keeps you from making a conection when you tie/solder the wires together. :) Hope it works for you! I found my project did not work with a pair of headphones that were broken (thought i'd try it). Make sure your headphones work before you use them!

Frank Lampard 13 (author)2011-12-04

mine did not work

Nirgal38 (author)2008-11-23

You'll notice on the back of the speaker that there's the number 8 with the Greek letter omega following it. That's a measure of the impedance of the speaker. Your iPod was designed to work with a headphones of a certain impedance. If your speakers don't match that impedance, it can cause problems (too much current drain, etc.). An amplifier will help avoid the problem of impedance matching. Fortunately, it's easy to build an amplifier using parts readily available at any Radio Shack that still carries electronics components (not all do... especially the ones in indoor shopping malls). Just my 2 cents.

PKTraceur (author)Nirgal382008-12-18

Finally, I know what the Omega sign stands for on those speakers... it was drving me crazy!

Nirgal38 (author)PKTraceur2009-02-03

The omega is shorthand for ohms, the standard measure of resistance in electronics. It's also the unit for impedance which is why you'll see the old style twin lead antenna wires listed as 300 ohms while standard coaxial cable is listed at 50 ohms (in the US, anyway). In any case, whether with speakers or antenna wires, for the best performance, you'll want to make sure that the impedance matches or you have a means of matching it. For speakers, amplifiers generally do the trick. Most speakers are 8 ohm although I've seen 4 ohm speakers. The typical impedance of earbud style phones is 32 ohms. Just another 2 cents... hey, this is adding up!

Laminarin (author)Nirgal382009-04-26

You can also put speakers (or other coils) in series and the impedance is additive (4 X 8ohm series=32ohm) but the sound will be quiet b/c of the high impedance so an amp would again be good.
A cheap (about 60 cents US) amp is a LM386. You can wire according to page 5 of the datasheet (
6 battery +
4 battery -
3 ipod out jack tip
2 ipod out jack collar
5 small capacitor and speaker in series (other end of speaker is
ground or neg on bat)

It runs on 4-12 volts and puts out ~0.3 watts.

BBFNN (author)Laminarin2011-12-03

um i know in way late but Total Resistance is R1+R2 not R1 X R2

Nirgal38 (author)BBFNN2011-12-04

BBFNN, if you look at what he's written there, his math is sound. It works out as:

8 ohms + 8 ohms + 8 ohms + 8 ohms = 4 x 8 ohms = 32 ohms.

wotot2 (author)Nirgal382009-04-06

what will happen to an ipod if i do this??? i would like the truth however harsh.

wotot2 (author)wotot22009-04-06

*damage wise

imrobot (author)Nirgal382009-02-07

can u plz direct me to such a amp?

Nirgal38 (author)imrobot2009-02-26

I have a monophonic version of an amp at

If you use two of them, you could make a stereo amp.

get to da parakeet (author)2009-05-02

i,personaly, think there are NO POINT to these cards. why do they make them anyways?

My 4-year-old thinks these musical cards are the shizzle. I just wish they made them with a battery that doesn't last so long...because enough is enough already...

TheRyleeAnn (author)clydicus2011-08-26

lol i have a lil bro and sis who are exactly like u described- i got a musical card for my bday and they abused it to the point where my mom threw it out. ah, wish i knew about this project then... :( haha

BBFNN (author)TheRyleeAnn2011-12-03

um.... does it need batteries?

dg33 (author)clydicus2009-10-13

just tape the electronics to someones door or wardrobe... descreat so they cant find it...

the worse the song the more annoying it is...

To irritate people to the point where they disassemble them and make them into ipod speakers.

so people can make these :D


packerfan12 (author)2008-12-01

would duct tape work instead of electrical?

jotism (author)packerfan122009-02-15

duct tape??? what is it with instructables and duct tape??? yes it would work.

Foaly7 (author)jotism2009-02-20

Duct Tape is The Universal Medium, and it fixes everything. Duct Tape Owns. That's what's up.

Johnboy TM (author)Foaly72009-05-21

duct tape is like the force. it has a light side, a dark side, and it holds the universe together

fireguard (author)Johnboy TM2011-10-13

U stole that! From my Pa! Good on ya.

jotism (author)Foaly72009-02-21

Yep, duct tape wallets are good too.

robotalamode (author)jotism2011-08-04

i made a duct tape tie once

Chromatica (author)jotism2009-08-09

i have one

Foaly7 (author)Foaly72009-05-22

Actually strike that second sentence. DUCT TAPE PWNS!

covey12 (author)Foaly72009-04-06

ductape is a rednecks best friend example: "Bubba the radiators shot, go get some ducktape (not duct for rednecks)"

cody316 (author)packerfan122010-09-16

Duct Tape will work instead for pretty much anything! lol

popcorn4lunch (author)cody3162011-02-19

tru dat!

Caleb Nehrbass (author)2011-10-12

i want to know how to actualy AMPLIFY it. thats what i'm looking for!

fireguard (author)Caleb Nehrbass2011-10-13

Zackly! I saw another instructable that mentions an amplifier, but not much about it... frustrating. I made one with a cardboard cornmeal can... also no amp, but it's almost loud enough, with the musical card speakers. Good luck with your search. If you find something, post here, I'll do the same, okay?
Thanks Caleb.


lwatson51 (author)2009-05-02

Or for stereo, just get another Hallmark card for a second speaker, keep both wires from the headphones and get another cereal box or maybe a small milk carton to complement the cereal box!

Johenix (author)lwatson512010-01-11

Hallmark makes a small line of three part, two speaker, STEREO cards for about $6.

The giant $10 cards (like the one that plays "Chicken Dance") use a totally different type of speaker. It is a small cylinder about the size of a die (half a pair of dice) that when held by the leads in free air is silent, but can turn any object into a speaker. I put it against my head and had a bone conduction speaker. It is marked 32ohms 1 Watt.
(Any one want to try to make a headset from these or give your deaf dalmation a taste of sound?)

Sound cards are a great idea for anyone who has a blind friend.

Cor822 (author)Johenix2011-09-03

Could you post a picture of the type of speaker that you used to get the bone speaker effect and a picture of the card? i got 1 of the "chicken dance" cards you talked about and heres the picture. if this is the type of card you got could you reply? thanks!

robotalamode (author)Johenix2011-08-04

the bone speaker is hilarious and raally cool

About This Instructable




More by justinseiter:Make an iPod Speaker from a Hallmark Music Card
Add instructable to: