Introduction: Styrofoam Plate Speaker

Picture of Styrofoam Plate Speaker
Get surprisingly good results from disposable picnicware! Turn an ordinary styrofoam plate into a decent sounding speaker. Original project design from Jose Pino. See the Test Results in the video.

Step 1: What You Need...

Picture of What You Need...

1. Ordinary Styrofoam Plate
2. Sheet of regular paper
3. 2 business cards
4. A Piece of cardboard larger than the plate
5. Magnet Wire (preferably 30-32 gauge)
6. A neodymium magnet. I got mine from CMS Magnetics
7. Scotch tape
8. Hot glue

Step 2: Build the Voice Coil

Picture of Build the Voice Coil

1. Cut (2) 11" strips of paper about 1/2 wider than your neodymium magnet is tall. A cutting board works best. Wrap one piece of paper around the magnet and secure it with tape.

TIP: Be sure you don't tape the paper to the magnet. Only to itself.

Then wrap the other piece around the first and secure it with tape.

TIP: Be sure you don't tape the second band to the first, only to itself to secure it.

Step 3: Finish the Voice Coil

Picture of Finish the Voice Coil

Remove the magnet and glue the paper coil in the direct center of the bottom of the paper plate. Remove the inside coil of paper. Re-insert the magnet. Using the magnet wire, start making turns, about 50-60.

TIP: Tape down the first piece so it holds as you wrap.

Try to wrap it tight. Then tape the final result securely with scotch tape. Remove the magnet.

TIP: You can use a multi-meter to check the ohms. You want to get as close to 8 ohms as possible. You must remove the enamel off the ends of the wire to make contact and the easiest way to do that is to burn it off with a lighter.

Step 4: Build the Suspension

Picture of Build the Suspension

Fold the two business cards into an accordian shape like a "W". The two cards are then placed symmetrically at opposite ends of the plate and glued down.

Step 5: Final Step

Picture of Final Step

Glue the Neodymium magnet to the center of the piece of cardboard and lower the speaker assembly over the magnet. It should slide over it easily. Glue down the suspension cards to the cardboard and you are ready to test it out. Let us know if you make one and how it worked. Hope you enjoyed this Instructable.


Prince Clash (author)2016-05-22

can i use any kind of magnet in it

Prince Clash (author)2016-05-22

please can u tell me how to connect those magnet wires into mobile jack

JustinL3 (author)2015-02-25

Is it ok if you use conducting wires?

YunusK (author)JustinL32015-03-04

Do you mean wire with no insulation? Unfortunately no, the current must be forced to go around the coil, but if it is not insulated, the current would just flow straight through the big chunk of the coil to the other end without creating the electromagnetic force. Did this for the second time with my physics students, they love it! Thin, insulated magnet wire is the best. The thinner wire makes the resistance more like 8 Ohms, the resistance of a normal speaker. Thicker wires have less resistance, but my resistance is still around only 1 Ohm, so after a while I always overheat the speaker and smell some burning smell. When I use a really big PA system to drive it, I see smoke, but it is sure loud!

CollinCoil1 (author)2015-01-30

This is a great project! After some experimenting, I found that items such as a tin can work best.

DJrmn (author)2014-07-26

jubaernet (author)2013-09-22

I have tried this one. It worked. But, sound level is too low . It was more like a earphone in a large scale. Is there any way to increase the sound level.

*Did you wind the coil layer by layer or it was just a rough winding ?

Please let us know about the winding technique. May be others are waiting for this....

jubaernet (author)2013-09-22

I have tried this one. It worked. But, sound level is too low as a loud or ordinary speakers. I was more like a earphone in a large scale. Is there any way to increase the sound level.

*Did you wind the coil layer by layer or it was just a rough winding ?

Please let us know about the winding technique. May be others are waiting for this....

ssiddiqui4 (author)2013-01-01

I have a problem. I am using very thin wire (not sure what the gauge rating is) I salvaged out of those retro telephone ringers. I tried to loop it around the paper cylinder several hundreds of time, but when I connected it to my amplifier, I guess it had little resistance, and the amplifier overheated, burning it. (a) Is very thin wiring safe for this project? (b) Can I hook this speaker up to my phones audio output jack?

Thanks for answering!

MadGuitarist (author)2012-12-18

hey kipkay can i use a ring magnet with the top ring and middle core?

Thundermoon99 (author)2012-08-11

will it work with a paper plate????

jjbootsaw (author)2012-03-19

Great guide! I don't have an amplifier that has an "out" plug to hook up to a speaker, but I did have an old guitar amp with an input for a guitar. The speaker will double for a microphone if you hook it up to the input.

jeremy_smith (author)2009-10-24

I made everything and checked it with a battery and it worked well, *BUT I HAVE A QUESTION*. i can't figure out how to hook it up to a jack and plug it into anything, i would appreciate the help, thankyou fellow DIYers.

tmherrin (author)jeremy_smith2012-01-04

Once I saw this on Kip Kay's website, I had my class at school make it - I got my magnet wire from RadioShack (it came in a package of three (red, green, and 'goldish'). I just cut a section of speaker wire from a spool of it (I had that laying around from a project - intially got it at Wal-Mart). I was unable to get sound from a headphone jack - I don't think they are powerful enough. I ran mine from my amp (Technics circa 1960 400watt) and it played great (for a styrofoam plate mind you).
We did find that the thinner wire that came in the RadioShack package was better than the middle-sized wire and we could not get the larger wire to work at all.


its2l8men (author)jeremy_smith2010-10-10

buy a jack

spikelea (author)2009-12-19

if i remember correctly, mythbusters tried this and it didn't work. is that just me or did they do it wrong. Also, where do you get the cables he used to hook it up?

bigjeff5 (author)spikelea2012-01-03

You remembered incorrectly - this is basic speaker design. Pretty much all speakers work exactly like this, they just use different materials (bigger magnets, more optimum diaphragm materials/shape, more compact frame, etc). The principals are identical.

As Fred the Penguin said, what Mythbusters tested was a hoax posted on the web, saying that you could just attach a penny to a paper plate covered in aluminum foil, then attach one audio lead to the penny and one to the foil and get sound. Since no electromagnet is created by the penny, and there is no permanent magnet to attract or repel, no movement occurs. Since there is no movement, there is no sound. Thus it was a fake.

Look up "penny speaker" and you'll see the difference between that fake speaker and this real speaker.

egriff (author)spikelea2010-06-05

you know this is working because the plate vibrates.

they used a different system by household hacker.

jnunez8 (author)2011-07-17

what if i use bigger size magnet????

beginnertoday (author)2011-07-05

OK I luved it but would like to know how to connect those two (magnetic or copper whatever they were)wires to the headphones and is it necessary for the resistance to be close to 8ohms and can one use it with mobiles:)

Blubber300 (author)2011-06-25

What if the magnet was donut shaped?

lunarpanel (author)2010-07-15

Thanks for this great Instructable, I did a instance of your design that uses a 1/8th of an inch wooden flexure instead of a styrofoam plate:
Cheers, Jb

aduy (author)lunarpanel2011-05-20

can you make a jpg of that pattern so i can print it out?

jbertjj123 (author)2011-03-27

its cool... thanks for teaching....

Dream Dragon (author)2011-01-29

Looks really good, is there a reason you went for two suspension units? I'd think it would be more stable with 3, but maybe stability isn't a major loss in this system? It's an interesting demonstration of the principle in any case.

ekswen (author)2010-11-17

Never posted anything hre before. Question, made the speaker, worked, but could get no volume from it. Held ear close could here speaker. Wrong magnets, too little wire on the core. I am an old geezer, help

merseyless (author)2010-11-16

i was bored, so i made an astable multivibrator at 5v and put 20 winds around my finger. the wire had a large enough gauge to support the coil and i just suspended it over a magnet with a paper cupcake cup. that buzzing sound made my day

AMP678 (author)2009-12-13

this is so cool! does the shape of the magnet matter?

Numex (author)AMP6782010-06-25

cylindrical is preferabal but it doesn't really matter. you'll need neodymium though because they have to be strong. they're only a buck or two

AKninja04 (author)2009-12-09

Would electrical tape have any affect on this project instead of clear tape?

zvillesurfer (author)AKninja042010-03-14

electrical tape should be fine.

LkArio (author)2009-11-04

This is an awesome instructable!

Da Nugesta (author)2009-09-08

Fantastic 'ible but you do not know the impedance of the coil so you could damage the amp! :(

Da Nugesta (author)Da Nugesta2009-09-08

oh sorry just read about the multimeter checking (stupid me) duh

mman1506 (author)2009-08-27

you know that kipkay didnt make this a article in make magazine shows how to do this (like stated in video) wich wasnrt written by kipkay

bizz (author)2009-03-26

brilliant!! haha ordering my magnets now - where did you get your wire from? x

zwllwy (author)bizz2009-08-07

You can find some wire in a local electronic market. I got the magnets there as well.

SRChiP (author)2009-06-07

If not cone or flat, what type of speaker is the Hard disk one? (No diaphragms.) I found out that keeping the head's coil near the magnet is enough to make it hear. (Even holding it in hand)

dombeef (author)2009-06-05


wotot2 (author)2009-04-14

Is it critical which polarity you glue down with the permanent magnet?

rk1776 (author)wotot22009-06-05

no, here u are creating an electromagnetic field. polarity is only crucial when u are using multiple terminals or hooking up some sort of complex system

AUAnonymous (author)wotot22009-04-30

From what I guess no, because gluing the magnet one way up instead of the other way up would essentially do the same things as connecting the alligator clips to the opposite wire of the headphone cable.

jimmytvf (author)2009-05-11

the plate creaks a little but it's a great speaker for the price of it nice speaker kip!

rk1776 (author)jimmytvf2009-06-05

try a syrofoam bowl, not so flimsy

kaaaaabooooom (author)2008-09-01

just made one it really does sound great but theres just one problem when my one is used for more than about 30 seconds it starts smoking any idea how to eliminate this. thanks.

rk1776 (author)kaaaaabooooom2009-06-05

u probably dont ave enough resistance for your output check your stereo or whatever u are using and use an ohmmeter

danimal310 (author)kaaaaabooooom2008-11-19

try more wire on your coil.

my guess, the current is too high, but i dont know much about these things.

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