Introduction: UmbrelAudio: Sound Dome Umbrella

Picture of UmbrelAudio: Sound Dome Umbrella
aka the Dome of Silence, umbrelAmp, Decibrella, and Uni-Directional Umbrella Speaker

Hey Instructabrarians!

Well it's the start of the rainy season again in Vancouver, ugh, which means I get to bust out my brand new, globular Dome Umbrella!  I absolutely love umbrellas (they're awesome! They make a nice fashion statement and they are incredibly useful, not just for rain) and will use any opportunity to take mine out!  

But you know, for as awesomely useful as umbrellas are, I don't think they've quite reached their full creative potential.  Don't get me wrong, there are some amazing LED and Flashlight Umbrella Instructables here, but I still think there's more creativity that can be done with these things.  That's why I decided to take a tip from Brown Innovations and start off the season with my latest Mattraption™, the umbrelAudio™: Unidirectional Umbrella Speaker!  

Note: Mattraption and umbrelAudio are registered trademarks of Matt Co. This build is dedicated to tm36usa for showing me how combining two everyday objects, when fused together can become an  infinitesimally useful device.

Step 1: Abstract

Picture of Abstract

If you've ever been to a music store or library, then you've probably seen one of these things hanging from the ceiling.  Devised by Brown Innovations, the Localizer Sound Dome speaker is a parabolic unidirectional speaker that's able to direct audio such as music to one specific location.  This, in turn, creates a localized sound area for the listener, creating an incredibly enjoying atmosphere.

My build is pretty much the same, except I'm using a Dome Umbrella instead of a plastic bowl because the double function of an umbrella makes it so much more useful.  Plus it's just cooler.  

Step 2: Materials and Parts

Picture of Materials and Parts

OK, so most of the parts I used came from two places: Target and Home Depot.  The rest of them came from spare things around my household that were either broken or unwanted anymore.

1. Dome/Bubble Umbrella (has to be this kind)
2. Battery Operated Speaker (IMPORTANT: must have a flat side, where you can attach the Copper Wire to).
3. Small length of Copper Wiring (around 1 cm thick)
4. a 3/8''-1'' Direct Burial Ground Clamp
5.  Optional: Assorted lengths of Earphone/ Speaker Wire
6. Nylon thread
7. Hooks (also optional)
8. Heat Shrink

1. Hot Glue
2. Metal Hammer
3. Pliers 

Step 3: Drill a Hole

Picture of Drill a Hole

Before we start anything, drill a hole beneath the Ferrule (end cap) of the umbrella.  This will be of the utmost importance when we hang it up later on.

Step 4: Preparing the Speaker Mount

Picture of Preparing the Speaker Mount

Alright so the first major part in this project, after you've accumulated all of your materials, is to begin creating the mount for your speaker.  The way this is going to be connected to the umbrella is using the Copper Wire and Brass Ground Clamp.  We will first be constructing the Copper Wire mount.

First, using your pliers, bend the Copper Wire into a zigzag shape, with at least 3 curves.  This will be used to attach to the flat side of your batter operated speaker (mine was conveniently located on the batter pack). Next using your metal hammer, pound the bent copper wire until metal can be placed flat down. 

Finally, hot glue it to the speaker.

Step 5: Soldering the Wires

Picture of Soldering the Wires

OK, so in this next step we can begin on rewiring and soldering the speaker wire itself.

Now considering how long your speaker wire was originally you may not need to do this step- a good length should be around 1-2 feet long.  My speaker's input wire was only 5 inches and certainly not long enough, so I extended it to around 4 feet long.

Using your Soldering Iron and Broken/Spare Earphone Wires, cut off the earphone parts and connect a long strand of earphone wires together, leading from the speaker and to the banana jack at the end.  Remember to use the Heat Shrink for protecting your solders.

Note: The reason I made my strand so long was because I planned to hang up my umbrelAudio and wanted to be able to use it from any point in my dorm room.  You do not have to make it this long.

Step 6: Connecting It Together

Picture of Connecting It Together

So now that you've finished creating the parts and soldering the wires, it's time to put it together!  Now, if you've done the previous steps correctly, this step shouldn't be difficult in the slightest. 

First, attach the Brass Clamp to the Thick Copper Wire, using a screwdriver to tighten the screw bolt.  Next, attach the Brass Clamp to the metal umbrella rod, but hand tighten the clamps together as you do not want to bend the umbrella rod.  Make sure that the speaker is placed at least 5'' away from the top of the umbrella, to maximize the Sound Space of the umbrelAudio.

Step 7: Optional: Hanging It Up

Picture of Optional: Hanging It Up

Finally, in order to get that true Cone Of Silence feel, find a suitable place to hang up your umbrelAudio to the ceiling.  Using rubberized metal hooks, I was able to hang mine on my dorm room's lighting fixture.  

Step 8: Finished!

Picture of Finished!

Alright, you are now finished with creating Matt Co's electronic umbrella speaker, the umbrelAudio!  You now have the coolest, most waterproof speaker apparatus available!

Now go  give it a test listen in the rain.

So until next time, See You, Space Cowboy!

Step 9: References

Picture of References

For more information about Sound Domes and how these devices work, please visit Brown Innovation's website for their complete line of unidirectional speakers.  For the Sound Dome Manual, from which I based my research on, you can visit it here: [1]

For another glimpse at musical umbrellas feel free to take a look at the Oto-Shigrue, devised by Yusuke Kamiyama and Mai Tanaka.  They are currently sold at a hefty price of $100 each.


PeterTheUnGreat (author)2010-11-14

I love this - so simple yet it instantly marks the user out as completely barking - brilliant

SHIFT! (author)PeterTheUnGreat2010-11-14

Thanks PeterTheUnGreat! I absolutely love the idea of combining the elements of two simple things (in this case a speaker and an umbrella) and making something completely new as a result! It's a bit of a running theme with my instructables.

This is awesome. I'll have to try it!

Yeah totally! I think you guys must get a lot of rain being so far up north. I know that UBC does.

CassandraM8 (author)2015-09-09

I was wondering (sorry if this has been answered already in the comments) if this is something that can keep a person in the next cubicle from hearing my music. I really want to just trap myself in either white noise or music without any infiltration from the rest of the office, but wearing headphones all day hurts my ears too much.

SHIFT! (author)CassandraM82015-09-10

Hey Cassandra, Thank you for your interest in this project! The Sound Dome umbrella is for focusing music to one central location. However It will not block music from someone else within the proximity.  If you want something like that, you might want to invest in a thicker plastic dome lowered closer to your head, a la Cone of Silence from Get Smart.


CassandraM8 (author)SHIFT!2015-09-11


BillG3 (author)2015-03-23

Do you suppose you could use one of those photography umbrellas? If so, there is another use... for lighting your studio when creating a video blog.

magdugal (author)2013-07-27

awsome dude..

r4n (author)2013-07-02

GREAT take on the "Cone of Silence" !

psycho_3852 (author)2011-11-29

now i feel like watching Cowboy Bebop :)

jkok1 (author)2011-07-25

Does this still fold up, even somewhat for storage?

VISOR-MAN (author)2010-11-15

What do you mean by a "flat side"? Is it just a speaker with a flat bottom, nothing technological? Why does this "flat side" make a difference?

SHIFT! (author)VISOR-MAN2010-11-20

By "flat side of the speaker" I really just meant any place where you could harness the Brass Wiring to it securely with the Hot Glue. If you have a rounded or unique shaped speaker, you can also dremel out a hole and attach the wire through it, or possibly wrap it around.

Ultimately, you just need a secure way to attach the speaker to the wire and a flat side really helps when attaching the glue.

VISOR-MAN (author)SHIFT!2010-11-21

Oh right - okay. Thanks

salazam (author)2010-11-12

And you could plug it into your ipod and listen to music when it's raining outside!!!

SHIFT! (author)salazam2010-11-12

Oh yes completely. It's also very helpful when trying to make phone calls and you're in a loud outside area.

bijikenyot (author)SHIFT!2010-11-14

and, when a lighting is coming after you,
you will get into pieces...

No more so than when you use any other umbrella in the rain

yeah...i dont know why rain and ipod always have mangnetizm

*newbie word... :D :D

but i can make sure, you can use this umbrella on the heavy metal concert
to listening BACH or MOZART
hahaha lol

SHIFT! (author)bijikenyot2010-11-20

That would be a pretty awesome death, actually. I wouldn't mind dying that way.

DisneyFreak (author)2010-11-14

Where did you get the Pixar wall decals in the video? :D

SHIFT! (author)DisneyFreak2010-11-20

Made them out of plastic, painted with black acrylic paint. You can actually download their font called Charlemagne Bold here

DisneyFreak (author)SHIFT!2010-11-20

Ah thanks so much! :)

Skyriam (author)2010-11-14

"umbrelAudio!! Bad luck around your house everyday. =)" Hahaha jk, nice project!

SHIFT! (author)Skyriam2010-11-20

Honey, I've already been cursed so much, that any additional bad luck simply cancels each other out. And that doesn't even make sense :D

Skyriam (author)SHIFT!2010-11-20

Hahaha doesn't make sense at all =D

boygenuis32 (author)2010-11-14

Now a more ironic song to have been playing would be 'Singing in the rain'.

SHIFT! (author)boygenuis322010-11-20

Too stereotypical. Besides I love Yoko Kanno and Real Folk Blues is the one song I always play in the rain.

boygenuis32 (author)SHIFT!2010-11-20

Yeah, that's a good choice.

Congrats on being featured in the newsletter!!!

Thanks Danger! I probably would never have posted anything if it wasn't for you!

ranaakamarth (author)2010-11-14

In the Houston, Texas airport they have these giant parabolas in the ceilings, If you stand in the center you can hear ever person's conversation that walks by no matter how quiet they talk. It is flippin awesome

SHIFT! (author)ranaakamarth2010-11-14

Hm, well then I'll certainly have to look into that then! That sounds cool, like a parabolic speaker in reverse!

mary candy (author)2010-11-14

I loved the Umbrella and specially the music :)
How is the name of who sings?

nix78 (author)mary candy2010-11-14

The song is called "The Real Folk Blues" by Japanese blues/jazz band The Seatbelts. It is best known for being the ending theme of the Cowboy Bebop. You can listen to the song (and watch the ending credits sequence withuout the text) here.

As for the 'ible itself, I don't think that the soft material of the umbrella does a very good job in sound reflection and isolation... but it just gave me an idea for using an old satellite dish for the same. :)

SHIFT! (author)nix782010-11-14

Thanks mary candy! And yes, pretty much what nix78 stated. It's composed by my all time favorite japanese artist Yoko Kanno, who I highly recommend to anyone with a strong love for Jazz and Blues.

SHIFT! (author)mary candy2010-11-14

Thanks mary candy! And yes, pretty much what nix78 stated. It's composed by my all time favorite japanese artist Yoko Kanno, who I highly recommend to anyone with a strong love for Jazz and Blues.

Marsh (author)2010-11-14

Would this also work like the cone of silence featured on "Get Smart?"

SHIFT! (author)Marsh2010-11-14

Hmmmm, I don't know! I suppose if I rigged some form of descending/ascending apparatus to the end cap I could probably have it drop from my ceiling. Of course, it's always louder on the inside, so it's a bit like the COS inverted!

hiflyer (author)2010-11-11

Activate the Cone of Silence!

....oh wait....

ElvenChild (author)hiflyer2010-11-14

come on everyone around here has one... Holy shoot a ferrari (farmer takes out camera phone)

SHIFT! (author)hiflyer2010-11-11

LOL, that was actually one of the working titles I had for this project!

mr.squeakers (author)2010-11-12


fadeddeath (author)2010-11-11

Nice build! Maybe this will help when I'm gaming and the wife is sleeping.

Also love the Cowboy Bebop end theme there!

SHIFT! (author)fadeddeath2010-11-11

Yes this is perfect for gaming! I actually have a small miniature projector so sometimes at night I'll hook it up to my Wii and the uA and play some SSBB!

I love Cowboy Bebop and Real Folk Blues is the perfect rain song.

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