Introduction: Victorian Speakers

Picture of Victorian Speakers

These are speakers I designed and made for my design technology class. See my design website here to look at my full research process: 

The task for this unit is to design a set of designer speakers that will be specific to a certain client's needs, while exploring the appeal of designer products. 

Brief: I will design a speaker for an audiophile who seeks maximum quality sound and a great design. It will be used at a home study and will radiate a cross between a victorian and modern look that is of high sound and material quality. For maximum sound quality and good design, it should be a set of stereo speakers inside one speaker enclosure, and easily portable and designed for laptop and smartphone use.

** Quick notes:
1) I'd advise you to read through all my steps before starting because being a novice, I mess up in a lot of places and I'll give you tips on how to avoid these messups in later steps.
2) I'm a student, so if you're very familiar with design, don't expect this tutorial to be to your level. I'm a novice, and I'm very unfamiliar with all the tools available. If you're in that position, then this is perfect for you. :)

Step 1: Draw Out the Final Design to Scale

Picture of Draw Out the Final Design to Scale

This is necessary to plan the measurements and materials needed.

Here's a picture of my design, and the second is the one with measurements (ignore the horns, they were too time-consuming and thus left out)

The material I decided to use was pine wood, which I will later on lacquer/ paint.

Step 2: Cut Out the Wood Pieces

I gave my pieces of wood to our school technician to cut for me (is that what they're called?).

The wood I chose was pinewood, but from my research, MDF and plywood are supposed to be denser materials that will provide better acoustics.

Here are the dimensions:
2 pcs 100mm x 210 mm x 10mm
2 pcs 60mm x 70mm x 10mm
2 pcs 70mm x 190mm x 10mm

(I later trimmed down the 100mm x 210mm x 10mm pieces to 90mm x 200mm)

Step 3: Glue the Frame Together

Picture of Glue the Frame Together

Glue the four smaller pieces of glue together. I just used normal PDA glue.

I also used a nail gun to make sure the frame would stay, and used a hammer to make sure the nails were well grounded. The nails are almost invisible to the eye.

(However, I didn't fully think things through, because I still want to put my speakers in, which is not impossible at this stage, but is definitely harder so I recommend you do step # _ before you do this one.)

Step 4: Plane the Edges

Picture of Plane the Edges

This is where I trimmed down the two remaining wood pieces to 90mm x 200mm.

Use a planer to chip off the edges.

When planing the shorter edges (the vertical ones), make sure not to push all the way across, otherwise it will chip.

I accidentally did this once, and resolved it by using a toothpick to get glue in the crevice and then holding it together with tape to let the glue dry.

Step 5: Sand the Edges

Picture of Sand the Edges

This step is quite self explanatory.

Step 6: Cut the Headpiece

Picture of Cut the Headpiece

Trace the following design 1 onto a piece of pine wood that's about 10mm thick.
Cut two out. (I had my school technician cut this on the band saw for me)

Cut A and B out on another piece of pine wood that's 15 mm thick (depending on the size of the gadget you're planning to put up here)
This was roughly cut on the saw drill by the technician, and then sanded down on the wheel and spindle sanders.
He showed me how to do it, and then I gave it a try. I have to say, I did quite a good job! :)

- You have to hold the piece firmly down, and make sure the force is directed downwards, otherwise the piece is in danger of flying off, and if force is directed on the sander, fingers can get harmed really easily. 
- Larger cuts can be made on the running sander

There were burn marks, however, so I had to try to get rid of this by sanding the pieces down by hand. This I did, and got rid of any rough edges, as well as tried to lighten the burned edges.

Step 7: Glue the Headpiece Together

Picture of Glue the Headpiece Together

Next, I glued one of the headpieces to A and B, and used clamps to keep them together.
I left them for about an hour and a half, then I added glue to the other side and glued it together. I used the clamps once again and left them overnight.

I then used glue to glue it onto the top part of the speaker, and this I also left overnight

Step 8: Design the Speaker Front

Picture of Design the Speaker Front

Now I have to design the front of the speaker using Corel Draw. I plan on drilling two holes for the speaker on my plywood frame, and then putting a thinner layer of plywood on top with victorian script-styled cut outs that will allow the sound to pass through.

Because I wanted a Victorian styled design which looked somewhat like the first picture, I started looking through the internet for Victorian scroll designs. However, this proved harder than I thought, and after one block, I only found picture # 3 and 4. These pictures, however, were hard to 'trace' using CorelDraw due to their complexity in shading, which is a shame, because I really liked the shape of the third picture. 

General tips on finding designs:
- try to use vectors/ clip art
- avoid pictures with shading as it is then harder to create a bitmap and convert the picture into printable lines. I'm sure it's possible through photoshop or some other more complicated software, but keeping in mind the short time frame and my experience level, this would be advisable.
- This is a great Victorian Scroll resource: 

- Crop and clean up images before tracing, as after tracing it is impossible to crop/ delete parts of the picture
- use bitmap> quick trace instead of bitmap > outline trace as this will cause the image to be blurry (see next step)

However, Mr. Plummer came across the above website, and found picture # 5. The only problem was that it was in an .svg file (readable through google docs) so Corel Draw was unable to read it, plus there was more than one design on the file. I thus transferred it to my laptop, put it through gimp, and removed all the excess patterns through the 'eclipse select' and 'edit' > 'clear'. I also set the background to transparent by using the 'magic wand' select tool, but this step proved unnecessary. All that needs to be done after the excess patterns are removed is to save it in a jpeg or .jpg file. My final 'gimped' product is picture # 7. I added this design into my already-made outline of the box front in Corel Draw (picture #8) and played around with a few other possibilites. All that's left to do is to find patterns to decorate the rest of the box.

Step 9: Print

Picture of Print

There were some problems with my design. Since I'd converted the images to bitmaps under the control bitmap> outline trace, the image it gave was blurry and this posed clarity problems. (1st picture)

So I had to redo the tracing of the image and this time I only selected bitmap> quick trace, and this fixed the problem. (2nd picture)

Then I printed the design out on cardboard to do a test. It turns out that cardboard can't be engraved (go figure), so I just printed out the part that needed to be cut out, and tested the size with the speaker we had.

Since I was already there, and there was no point in going home and then starting it all over again tomorrow, I decided I'd just go ahead and print the final copy on some wood. I didn't know what wood to use, but there was some that was already there so I just printed it on this. Hopefully it'll work, I'm still waiting on it to finish.

It's looking great so far. All I need to do is sand this over slightly, especially since the back part is quite rough. Sadly, the front part of it is a bit burned, but I guess that adds to it's 'authenticity'. 

- When engraving and laser cutting at the same time, laser cut the object from the back so the front face won't get burned, then turn it over and do the engraving on the front.

Step 10: Drill Speaker Holes

Picture of Drill Speaker Holes

Okay, so there's a difference between what I did and what I should've done.

What I did was that I went on the school computer and checked the exact measurements from the edge to the speaker. Then I realised I needed to find the center point.

So I redid the measurements for the center point of the holes. The measurements came out something like: 61.736 mm, 37.465mm, 67.525mm, and believe it or not, I actually measured this. SO DUMB. 

However, when I placed the front layer on top of the frame just to double check the positioning of the hole, I realised that I could've just drawn the hole through the cut out, like image 3. I then repositioned the holes by sight based on the positioning of the cuts, thinking that this would probably be more specific and accurate.

I then found the drill pieces and discovered that the largest drill piece was only 46mm, and they didn't have 50mm drill pieces. I made sure this size would be appropriate, then I started up the drill with the help of my school technician and  drilled two holes.

After this was done, I used sandpaper to smoothen down the edges and get rid of all the bits and pieces of wood that were sticking out. Then, I placed the cutout on top of the holes to make sure I hadn't made a mistake on the positioning of the holes. It's a good thing I hadn't.

I had two options: either to secure the speaker from behind, or let it sit in the hole and screw it down accordingly. Both I and a friend who was accompanying me at the time thought the second option would be better as it would be easier to secure and would look quite good too. However, I was unsure, because the outer layer was quite thin, and I was afraid it might snap. Also, the acoustics of the speaker might be affected, as the outer layer isn't as firm and dense as the rest of the wood. I decided to leave this until I could confirm the best approach from my teacher.

So, what I should have done was draw the centre of the circle based on the cutout instead of wasting my time trying to do multiple complicated calculations.

-Write out your plan, and don't blindly follow it. Use common sense.

Step 11: Attach the Speakers Onto the Speaker Frame

Picture of Attach the Speakers Onto the Speaker Frame

I did this with proxy glue, and since the speakers didn't really rest comfortably on the frame, I ripped off the rubber coating of the speakers, and this solved the problem. My school's technician applied the proxy mixture onto the four corners of the frame (where the speaker will be attached), and I aligned the speaker with the hole on top of the glue. Once this was done, I left it to dry (it takes about one hour to completely harden)


Any alterations to where the speaker will be placed must be made now, otherwise after the glue hardens, it will be rock solid and impossible to move.

Step 12: Create the Circuit Board

Picture of Create the Circuit Board

We had the circuit board already soldered on with wires for us, so for the  most part the rest of the soldering was quite easy. The normal procedure for soldering would be somewhat like: Use the wire stripper to expose the wires that are inside the plastic casing. Then, insert a heat shrink in one of the wires and hold the two wires together and twist them so they are facing in the same direction. Heat up the soldering tool and hold it directly under the wire, and hold the solder above it. This should result in a clean soldered joint, which can then be bent and covered by the heat shrink.

I soldered three wires to the audio jack, and in turn soldered these wires to the wires from the circuit board. Next, I soldered the battery pack. Since my frame was still drying, I didn't think it would be wise to start soldering the speakers, so that was left as that. Also, I hadn't drilled the audio jack yet, and thus I couldn't glue the frame together, otherwise it would make it extremely hard to solder the wires to the circuit board.

** read the next step first!! I messed up quite largely and I think you'd want a head's up!

Step 13: Cut Audio Jack Hole & Insert Wires

Picture of Cut Audio Jack Hole & Insert Wires

Today I used the drill ALL BY MYSELF (yes I'm rather proud of it), and drilled a small hole in the framework for the audio jack.

I messed up in the soldering, because I realized that since I didn't want the audio jack to be able to fall through the hole, I had to solder with the wires already through it. I had to choose between making the hole larger, or re-soldering. I chose re-soldering, and I'm glad I did too, because I've gotten so much practice with soldering that it was super fast for me!! Quite an achievement, I did ALL of it absolutely by myself!! :) Also, it looks much more professional and designer now :)

Step 14: Attach the Bottom and Top Pieces

Picture of Attach the Bottom and Top Pieces

I glued the framework onto the bottom with wood glue and held it together with large clamps. This I left overnight.

Attach the top with a hinge so the box can be opened. I decided to file the inside of the box so that I could attach the hinges.

Step 15: Glue the Front Design Onto the Frame

Picture of Glue the Front Design Onto the Frame

Self explanatory. :)
Then sand your product and paint! :)


MattCP (author)2012-06-26

PVA...(Polyvinyl acetate) not PDA

MattCP (author)2012-06-06

That looks Great!

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