Making speakers from would-be trashed old iMac speakers and iPod boxes.
Step 1: Materials
Materials used/need for this project:
iMac speakers (from a dead iMac).
Headphones or other comparable listening device with appropriate jack size.
Note: The iMac speakers have a collar at the base of the plug which prevents them from being used on devices other than the iMac which is why I made them out of the iPod boxes. Plus if the original speaker set was used, this would have been the shortest instructable ever. And the look pretty cool too.
iPod boxes (in this case, it's one 160GB iPod Classic, and one 16GB iPod Touch box).
Soldering iron and solder.
X-Acto knife or other sharp instrument for cutting through the boxes (they are particularly thick).
Wire strippers capable of stripping very small gauge wire.*
*Not shown. In place of these items, I used my Leatherman Wave multi-tool with much success.
Step 2: Removing the Original Speakers.
The iMac speakers are held in place by three small Phillips screws around the rim that is exposed outside of the clear pod. Remove these with your jeweler's screwdriver. The mini screwdriver on the Leatherman Wave works just fine. You may need to unscrew the grey plug at the back of the pod which the speaker wire passes through. This plug can be undone with your needle nose pliers. There are three dimples in the plug that can unscrewed much like the spikes of a golf shoe. Again, the Leatherman works well for this. Unscrewing this plug seems to allow the cord to be pulled through easier. You'll need to snip the wire at the Y junction as shown in the second picture for this step. Save the pods, there's plenty of uses for those too!
Step 3: Cutting the IPod Boxes.
Mark the location of your planned speaker placement on the boxes. I chose to center them. Placement is totally up to you. Measure the speaker just below the rim. Remember that the speaker needs to rest on the outside of the box. If the hole is too big, the speaker will either be too loose, or fall into the box completely. It's best to err on the small side when cutting the hole. You can always remove more of the box, but it's pretty hard to put more box back on! You'll also need to make a hole in the bottom portion of the box for the pass-through for the speaker wire. Once you've got the hole cut, make sure the speaker fits, and fits snugly. Pass the wire through the main hole, then through the pass-through. At this point, your speaker box can be assembled. You should have a box with a speaker stuck on the front and a wire dangling out of the back. If not, try again.
Note: The iPod boxes have foam inside the top portion, leave this in as it helps dampen vibrations.
Step 4: Soldering the Speakers to the Headphone Wires.
For this project, I used iPod earbuds as the adapter for connecting speaker to computer/iPod/whatever else.
Take the cut ends from the speakers in carefully remove the insulating sheath (the white rubbery part around the wires). Immediately beneath the sheath is a woven mesh of silvery wire. This is the magnetic shielding. Carefully peel this back. It can be cut away once it's all peeled away from the core. Beneath the wire mesh you'll find a core of what looks like foil. Peel the foil back. This can also be cut away once the innermost core is exposed. Beneath the foil you'll find to very small sheathed wire sets and two insulating threads. The threads can be cut off, careful not to cut the wires. You'll find on one speaker, a white and blue wire set, and the other will have a brown and white set. At least that was the case with my particular speakers. Carefully strip away the sheaths of the innermost wires.
Next, take your headphones, in this case unneeded iPod earbuds. Snip off the buds, and cut away the insulating sheath. You'll find two wires. These may be lightly intertwined and two different colors. The color on the wires is insulation that need to be removed. This can be done by putting flame to the exposed wire. I used a standard butane lighter and touched the flame to the wire. It will catch quickly and fizzle out quickly. Just make sure the integrity of the wires has not been too badly compromised. Using your fingernails, you can gently scrape away the carbon left on the wires from the flame. If the wires break or crumble easily, they have burned too long and won't conduct properly. Try again. Once you're confident your wires are still usable, using your fingers, connect the speaker wires to the headphone wires, plug the headphone jack into your device to make sure the sound signal is making it all the way to the speaker. If no sound is coming out of your speaker, try switching wires. If there is still no sound, make sure all your wires are fairly clean and free of any insulating material. I had a brief snag when one set of headphone wires was too badly burned, and then again when I left too much colored insulation on. Once you have sound coming from the speaker, solder the connection. Repeat for the other speaker.
Note: I labeled each speaker "L"eft or "R"ight, and did the same with the corresponding earbud. When I soldered speaker to earbud I matched side to side. I don't know if this makes a difference, but it can't hurt.
Step 5: Finishing the Project.
At this point, your project is essentially finished. Upon plugging the finished speakers into my laptop, I noticed that there was still some distortion despite the iPod boxes' foam lining. Also, the bottom portion started to push out from the air movement via the speaker cones. It might be beneficial to seal the top and bottom portions with silicone or similar sealant. The bottom half of the box may also be lined with foam or neoprene allowing the two halves to fit super snugly instead of using a permanent seal like silicone. While this project may be far from perfect, it's definitely eye-catching and a conversation starter. Each user/builder can freely tweak it to suit his/her needs or taste. Enjoy your landfill saving new sound system! Please visit upcycled.net and consider using us to showcase your items.
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