Picture of Paper Plate Speaker
Hello, this instructable will take you through the fun and easy process of making an audio speaker out of a paper plate. The IEEE (Institute of Electronic and Electrical Engineers) club at Iowa State University uses this project for a demonstration at local middle schools and is also a great project for high school kids learning basic physic principals, and will take about 20 minutes to complete.   The paper plate speaker requires materials commonly found around the home or school and two materials that can easily be found at a craft store or online. The basic components of commercial speakers are the magnet, coil, and cone. The magnet and coil are responsible for moving the cone a small distance. The cone then transfers this small movement into sound by amplifying the air moved simply by have a larger surface area than that of the coil.  For the paper plate project, a Neodymium magnet is used for the magnet, a hand wound copper coil replaces the commercial coil, and the cone is replaced by the paper plate. A list of materials follows below. The critical materials for this project are the 32 AWG copper wire (has to be enameled or coated) and the neodymium magnet; both can usually be found at a local craft store or online retailer. If you are having trouble finding the magnet, CMS magnets (www.magnet4sale.com)  is a great online supplier of neodymium magnets and is the supplier of the magnet I used for this project. I have attached a direct link for the magnet I used (http://www.magnet4sale.com/On-Sale-Neodymium-Magnets-N42-Dia-1-X1-2-NdFeB-Rare-Earth-Magnets.html).

Material Lists.
1.       Tape
2.       Hot glue gun
3.       Lighter
4.       Wire cutter
5.       32 AWG copper wire (enameled)
6.       C  Battery
7.       Neodymium Magnet  1” Diameter x ½”
8.       Paper Plate
9.       Three paper strips (8” x 2”)
10.   Cardboard (12”x12” minimum)

I made one, but it rattles to bass alot. Any idea where the rattle is coming from, and can i isolate it?

Help appreciated.

That's really neat! And lightweight! I wonder if this system would work with my chladni membrane? http://www.instructables.com/id/How-to-make-a-Chladi-plate-vibrating-membrane/
How much bigger of a magnet and coil would you need to reach -say- a 10W commercial speaker? 
GASSYPOOTS3 years ago
can you make them plug into something?
King Julien3 years ago
i will make an aray of 4 of these
nbarnes44 years ago
Can you do this with bare copper wire, or does it have to be enameled?
I don't feel like going to a dept. store for enameled, and ordering online will take too long for my imaptient nature. I have a crapload of bare copper, will it work?
if you apply rubber coating on surface it work as sub woofer without distortion and clean voice. I have tried it long time before ( 20 years )
gct51964 years ago
How about modifiying the experiment to make a chadni plate?
There may be a lot to be gained from this one.
askjerry5 years ago
Where's the video???  :o)

Make two... do stereo... then video it!

- Jerry
pyrorower5 years ago
That enameled copper wire, would that be something I would find in say, a doorbell chime (the part that actually makes the sound, not the button)?
If it helps, the wire I am talking about is copper, and is in a tight coil around a spool and conducts no electricity. If it is enamel coated, then it would explain alot :P
A bit late, but yes, you can use that wire. It is enamel coated and you either have to scratch off or burn the enamel coating away at the spot you want to connect it.
cammel85 years ago
Nice project.  By chance do you know the Physics of it?  Why does it work? How does it work?
 lol, u sound like my physics teacher ><
duzeus cammel85 years ago
When current is run through the coil it creates a magnetic field around the coil. The current is alternating and therefore the north/south poles of its field are constantly changing. The fixed neodymium magnet then interacts with this oscillating field attracting and repelling the wire in time with the current's changing direction. This moves the wire up and down which moves the paper up and down which moves the plate up and down. I think that's basically it but I don't know how much you know about this stuff in general so it still may not make sense. In the event of that, I'm sorry :)
ycc21065 years ago
Nice project, thank for sharing! But it's a bit short at the end: What's the sound quality like? Does the plat move a lot?
wcameron (author)  ycc21065 years ago
The sound quality is pretty good, but still not as good a commercially available speaker and the speaker does not move alot.  What would of you like to see at the end?
Also, forgot to ask how loud is it?
At the end: Maybe the possibility to hear a sound? or a video? Just so we get a better idea.