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
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JustinL36 months ago

Is it ok if you use conducting wires?

YunusK JustinL35 months ago

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!

CollinCoil17 months ago

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

DJrmn1 year ago
jubaernet1 year ago
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....
jubaernet1 year ago
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....
ssiddiqui42 years ago
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!
hey kipkay can i use a ring magnet with the top ring and middle core?
will it work with a paper plate????
j_grizzley3 years ago
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.
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.
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.
buy a jack
spikelea5 years ago
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?
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 spikelea5 years ago
you know this is working because the plate vibrates.
they used a different system by household hacker.
jnunez84 years ago
what if i use bigger size magnet????
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:)
Blubber3004 years ago
What if the magnet was donut shaped?
lunarpanel5 years ago
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: http://www.flickr.com/photos/jeanbaptisteparis/4797539302/in/set-72157624500231474/
Cheers, Jb
Picture 1.png
aduy lunarpanel4 years ago
can you make a jpg of that pattern so i can print it out?
jbertjj1234 years ago
its cool... thanks for teaching....
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.
ekswen4 years ago
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
merseyless4 years ago
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
AMP6785 years ago
this is so cool! does the shape of the magnet matter?
Numex AMP6785 years ago
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
AKninja045 years ago
Would electrical tape have any affect on this project instead of clear tape?
electrical tape should be fine.
LkArio5 years ago
This is an awesome instructable!
Da Nugesta5 years ago
Fantastic 'ible but you do not know the impedance of the coil so you could damage the amp! :(
oh sorry just read about the multimeter checking (stupid me) duh
mman15066 years ago
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
bizz6 years ago
brilliant!! haha ordering my magnets now - where did you get your wire from? x
zwllwy bizz6 years ago
You can find some wire in a local electronic market. I got the magnets there as well.
SRChiP6 years ago
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)
dombeef6 years ago
wotot26 years ago
Is it critical which polarity you glue down with the permanent magnet?
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