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Picture of Print your own wireless portable speaker!
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Have you ever wanted a portable speaker like the Jambox by Jabra but not for $200. This is my first design at a portable speaker that you can take anywhere and wireless connect with Bluetooth. It also allows you to charge your phone if necessary.
After 6+ years of checking out everyone else's Instructables, this is my very first Instructables!
This design is also an entry for the UP contest. Enjoy.

I set out to make my own portable speaker with a similar design to the Jambox with the addition of a few extra features. 
For this build you will need the following:    UPDATE: Prices and links to items
Small USB-powered speakers with built in amp   $15  $8 or free if you have some 
portable USB charger for cellphones                       $10  $8+ (1700 mAh or larger)
Bluetooth Stereo A2DP module                                $25
NFC Tag                                                                         $2 per tag or less 


Other tools and Materials:
Soldering Iron and Accessories 
small square magnets
3D printer (My school had a Replicator 2)
Screwdriver (flat and Philips)
Wire strippers
Hot glue gun
Rubber padding
Calipers
Pry tool used for cell phones
 
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Step 1: Disassembling the Speakers

Speakers:

Find some speakers that will suit your needs. Test them to make sure the output is loud enough. You might need to purchase an amp to boost the signal if necessary. The power input should be 5v to be compatible for the battery in the next step. 

Split the speakers open. Most have grills on the front that are easily removable. 
If the speakers are not assembled with screws then you will have to remove the plastic around the components. I took a screw driver and a pry tool to split the sides. The amp should be in the unit with the power and aux cord. 

Resolder the cables back to the board if necessary. Add hot glue to the cables so they don't pull out or short circuit other components.

Step 2: Open the Portable USB Charger

Picture of Open the Portable USB Charger
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The USB power charger will vary depending on the model and capacity of the battery cell. Most have circuitry to convert the battery voltage to the 5v input/output. It is recommended to not connect the speaker power directly to the battery terminals as this may drain your cell down past its recharge limit. Most of these units are so small that they don't have screws on the outside. Use the pry tool again to open the case. Inside will be the cell and the printed circuit board  (PCB).  If there are screws holding down the PCB to the case, remove them so that the components are free. 

Next wire up the speaker power cable to the output power supply of the battery. I chose to cut the cable and directly solder it to the board. This allows for the ability to charge a phone or other device at the same time you are playing music. 

Cut the cable with the wire strippers. The red and black cords in the cable will be the 5V and GND. The terminals on the USB female port of the PCB are large enough to directly solder to them without much trouble. This is the pinout for a female USB. Connect the red and black of the power cord to  1 and 4 of the USB terminals, respectfully.

Step 3: Measure Components and Assemble Electronics

Picture of Measure Components and Assemble Electronics
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I wanted to keep the unit condensed in a tight package and conveniently the amp and USB battery board were about the same size. I affixed them together with some hot glue and a piece of rubber to make sure the PCBs did not short circuit one another. You could also use standoffs or custom print a piece of plastic to separate the boards and have perfect screw holes. I used two standoffs in order to attach the electronic portion to the walls of my speaker.

Once you have all the components, connect them up to make sure that you did not solder something incorrectly. Its best to test early before you get ahead of yourself and find out you damaged a board or worse.

I choose to keep the Bluetooth module in tack in case I wanted to use it for my car stereo or another device. This means I have to power it separately once the internal battery dies. Its a small trade off but keeps the speaker and Bluetooth connection modular.

Measure the components including the spacing of the USB inputs, Bluetooth module, speaker diameter. 

Step 4: CAD

Picture of CAD
The CAD for the outer shell was done in Solidworks but any program should be fine for making your own custom enclosure. I modeled the speakers, Bluetooth module, and hole patterns for the USB input from the dimensions in the last step. The sizing of the speakers and amp will be your main constraints for the dimensions of the case. I choose to use a 1/4 inch of material for all of the walls. From there, I was able to size my case and make two separate shells (in Solidworks there is a split command that creates two separate bodies from a single part). One shell holds the electronics and the other holds the speakers. The two pieces can be downloaded if you are really interested. The final model has the Bluetooth module on a sliding track with the surface recesssed into the top of the part. I have seen a handful of speakers with slits on the side for what I assume is to allow the vibrating cone to equalize air pressure and produce a lower bass. I went with something a little more aesthetic with slits that are slanted instead of straight through holes. The back and bottom of the case have no detail but feel free to add a little more flair with an embossed emblem or even your name. The advantage of 3D printing is that it allows you to get fancy without adding cost. Extra detail = Free

Step 5: Printing the Case

If using a Makerbot, then download the Makerware beta software. http://www.makerbot.com/makerware/
Of the handful of 3D printing setup programs that I have used, I found this one the most intuitive. I learned the basics in about 20 minutes. You will need to export your CAD files as .stl and import them into the makerware by clicking add. You can rotate the part and center it on the tray. I chose to print the most detailed features I cared about face down. This was more ideal then in the z direction because the lines from each layer might not align perfectly on each pass. After your part is centered and aligned in your desired configuration, hit Make It!

The settings that a friend referred me to were to increase the nozzle temperature by 5 degrees, add a raft structure to build on and tape the edges of the printed area. I used a 20% fill ratio and have yet to try something more dense. One of the main concerns that was relayed to me was that large parts tend to curl. This is due to the cooling of the plastic as the nozzle moves to a different area of the platform.  The rest of the settings were left as default. I used a UV reactive PLA filament.

You can saving the file to an SD card or sending it directly over USB to the printer.

Step 6: Assemble and Enjoy


Once you have your printed shells you can finally assemble the speaker :)
I might be spoiled with the surface quality of other 3D printers but do not try and sand the shell pieces. It ends up making the surface finish worse. 

Test fit your components to make sure everything fits like it should. Minor adjustments can be made with a dremel if necessary.

The speaker grills were super glued in place. Next, the speakers were placed on top and hot glued to the surface of the grills. 
Insert the electronics board into the top shell and secure it with screws and hot glue. A small amount of foam left over from the original speaker housing was used to block the side vents from letting debris into the housing.  A small dab of hot glue around the ports blocks any spacing issues.

I chose to lock the Bluetooth module to the case with tiny square magnets that I had laying around my lab. Once you slide the module into the track, the magnets lock it into place for a semi-permanent attachment. 

Finally, the added bonus of an NFC chip to directly connect to the Bluetooth was added on the vacant top side. For those unfamiliar, NFC or Near Field Communication is now being embedded in modern smartphones (excluding apple products) to allow for a quick tap and activate solution. The NFC chip takes short wave transmission and powers itself just long enough for the phone to read the tag. Users can write certain code to tags in order to do different actions. 

I have been meaning to put my phone's NFC ability to use and I thought that it was time I did so via this project. After you purchase the tags which can come from many different supplies, download an app called NFC Task Launcher. Click the add button to set up a new NFC task. You can give it a name and set a handful of task to start when the tag is touched. For example, I chose to start my Bluetooth connection, max out the volume, and open a music app. Once you are done, tap save and write while you have your phone over the tag. The information will be stored and now each time you tap the tag on the speaker, you will instantly be connected without going through sub-menus to setup your connection.

The final product is shown under and ultra violet light and I took it to spring break for a few days on the beach B-)
The overall cost was around $50 but the coolness factor of telling your friends you made this speaker is off the charts. Hopefully this has inspired you to make your own printed portable wireless speaker!

 
Now you can use an app called BT Tag Writer on Google Play so you can make a special tag to act like the NFC on retail NFC-enabled speakers: tap to pair/connect/disconnect, otherwise perfect project! :)
plazmatyk2 years ago
Excellent music selection in the demo. I know and love every one of those tracks.
Misac-kun2 years ago
Wow, it glows!