Introduction: Vintage Look Airplay Speaker
Thanks for checking out my instuctable on how I built my Wifi Minimal Tower Speaker.
This is my first wifi speaker build. It integrates with my other 4 diy built wifi speakers to make a full multi-room audio system that is controlled centrally on my tablet. I have them in different rooms of the house and one for the garden. You can see the other builds and get more info on the whole system in the last step of this instructable.
This particular speaker is a light timber enclosure with a wool grill. The speaker drivers are actually a 4.1 channel surround sound set made by Cambridge Soundworks. I chose to base this unit on these speakers because they are cheap (Circa $40 second hand), small and reproduce great full bodied sound for their size. I purchased 4 of them in total to complete each speaker build. The speaker connects to my wifi via the apple airport express (2nd gen) fitted inside the unit. The speaker can then be controlled by any smart device that supports airplay. Note that I use a windows tablet. This allows me to control all 5 speakers from one device, playing music house wide. Take a look at the last step for further details.
Step 1: Materials
> 3 x sheets of soft timber - See cutting the pieces step to gauge how much you will need. It depends on what lengths your diy store offers.
> At least 1.6 metres (63") of 20mm (0.78") quarter circle edging strips.
> Wood glue.
> Spray contact adhesive
> 2.1 or 4.1 surround sound speakers or computer speakers.
> 1 x apple airport express - 2nd gen or newer.
> An old jumper/sweatshirt or similar (medium to light density material)
Step 2: Cutting the Pieces
As the image above shows, I cut 2 sides, a top, 2 inner shelves and some small 1mm thick strips to make the grill look more professional. I'll show pics of this later in the build process.
As a summary I cut my pieces to the following dimensions;
Sides > 2 x 800mm (33.46") by 280mm (11.02")
Top > 1 x 280mm (11.02") by 280mm (11.02")
Inner Shelves > 2 x 240mm (7.87") by 200mm (9.44")
Grill frames > 3 shapes;
(1 @ 190mm by 240mm ) + (2 @ 275mm by 240mm) - These sizes allow a 10mm shortfall that will leave room for the grill cloth and the grill dividers.
Grill Dividers > 2 x 240mm (7.87) by 20mm (0.78") @ 1mm thick (0.03")
Quarter circle edging strips > 2 x 20mm (0.78") strips cut to 800mm (33.46") length
All cuts were done on a mitre saw.
Step 3: Glue Together
> I first glued together the inner shelves to one side piece. I used a ruler and marked where they needed to sit to leave enough room for the subwoofer on the first shelf and the satellite speakers on the top shelf.
> Then I glued the other side in place - After I found that I needed to add support under the shelves so I glued in place some 10mm thick by 30mm wide strips of wood and added 2 screws on each side of each shelf.
> Using clamps to hold the sides in tight I added the top of the speaker and the curved strips on each side and allowed the glue to set overnight.
> After the glue has cured, I glued in the subwoofer onto the bottom shelf. To do this I scratched up the bottom of the sub and used wood glue to fix it in place. It worked great and resulted in a good bond.
> Now the sub is in, I took 2 of the satellites and did the same thing, this time using epoxy based adhesive for a better bond because the satellites are plastic and have a small footprint.
> The last item I glued into place was the Apple airport express. Again I used the epoxy adhesive and fixed it to the side just behind the satellite speakers.
Step 4: Making the Speaker Grills
To give the speaker it's modern/vintage look I used an old jumper/sweatshirt I had.
> Taking the three pieces of wood I cut earlier for the grills, I placed each one on the jumper material and cut around the shape. I left an additional half inch all the way around.
> With each one cut, I folded the material round and adhered to the back of the piece using a spray on contact adhesive. This is all I needed to stick the fabric down because the finished sections would be glued in at the edges where they sit flush. So it was not going anywhere (The pics should give a you a good idea of what was done)
> When the fabric was glued on, I placed the bottom piece in first with wood glue along the sides and the top only. After getting it flush at the edges I placed one of the 1mm (0.03") thick strips in between and repeated the process for the middle section and the top section. The finished look was exactly what I wanted. I did need to pay more attention to keeping the material weave straight though. A thought for anyone replicating this...
> I damaged the middle grill by accident so decided to take the leather label from the jumper and glue it to a small piece of wood. I then super glued that over the small hole. It actually added a nice touch in the end.
Step 5: Wire Together
Now the speaker is all but complete.
> The speakers I used in this build are simple to wire up. You connect both the satellite phono leads to the corresponding Left or Right front jack as labelled.
> Then attach the on/off knob (always left on as the unit is powered on/off by the plug)
> Then finally plug in the Airport express. (I used a power cable splitter hiden within the finished speakers. Inside the splitter splits one 2 pin power cable into 2 - one for the transformer for the speakers and the other plugged directly into the airport express.) A short AUX cable supplied with the speakers connects the express to the subwoofer.
Step 6: Setting Up the Airport Express for Wifi Music Goodness...
Weather you want to connect to this speaker with single device such as an Iphone or use it like I did in my multi speaker configuration the set up is the same. Your smart phone will see one or more devices and you simply select which one you want to use. If you're doing it the way I am, you need a windows platform and airfoil software. To keep things clean and simple I used a cheap Windows 8.1 based tablet. Small and light like an ipad but a fully functioning windows environment. More info on how I set up the speakers can be found in the last step.
As each home is different you may want to follow the official apple set up guid as this details each possible scenario.
Step 7: 5 Speaker Multi-Room Wifi System
This speaker was part of a set of 5 that make up my wireless multi-room audio hifi system. If you are not interested in making more than one speaker or playing audio in multiple rooms wirelessly you can skip this step.
I put together 5 speakers in total. Each can be found on instructable on my user page (Links below). Each one is designed with an apple airport express hidden inside. This allows them to connect to my existing wifi network at home. When each is connected, a piece of software called Airfoil can detect them as airplay speakers. (you can name each speaker for easy identification). I run this application on a small windows 8.1 tablet. (cost $199 of amazon.com).
In summary - I control each of the five speakers from the tablet. I can adjust the volume globally or individually on each speaker. Airfoil captures the tablets audio output regardless of the source. I simply tap the Airfoil icon and it auto opens Spotify and begins capturing its audio output and broadcasts it out to each of the speakers. It calculates the distance of each speaker from the router (directly related to transmission time) keeping everything in sync and eco/delay free.
Check the app out on the publishers website here...
I also listen to mixes on youtube and using this method allows me to hear it in every room. I can also play tunes on single speakers if needed. Just hit the mute button in the app on the other speakers. As a final added bonus - Each airport express can extend my wifi range by a significant radius and a USB device can be attached to each one. You can make a usb printer wireless or attached storage etc... I didn't utilise this feature but it was tempting and it may come in handy in the future.
Thanks for looking at my wifi speaker instructable. As mentioned, you can see the other four on my user page and if you think any of them are worthy, please vote for them. If you are looking to make something similar and have any questions, comments or issues please feel free to message me.
Speaker One - Minimal Tower Speaker - (This Speaker)
Speaker Two - Minimal Cube Speaker
Speaker Three - Apocalypse Robot
Speaker Four - Full Hifi tower speaker & Subwoofer
Speaker Five - Kandi Skull Portable speaker