Introduction: Balcony Speakers (PMB Pt3)

About: Studying to electrical engineer

It's time for another pimp my balcony (PMB) instructable wohoo!!

My brother had a pair of portable speakers he was about to throw away because the usb connector had detached from the PCB. Now without a usb port there was no way of charging this little thing so it was kind of useless in its condition once the battery was drained. But obviously, being me I couldn't let him throw it away so I decided to take it upon me to find a new destiny for the music player and that's how this adventure begins.

After some thinking back and forth I finally got an idea of what to use the music player for. Since I'm trying to make my balcony the ultimate hangout place I of course needed music and this was perfect for that. So I decided to turn this to a fixed balcony music playing system for my balcony.

The first step of this Instructable is about fixing the USB-Port on my music box so if you already have a working one you can skip the next step and go straight to step 2

Step 1: Repair It

First thing I did was of course to take it apart to see how the board looks like.

The only real consequence of not having a usb port was that I was unable to recharge the player once the battery was depleted. The usb could be used to play music through the data pins too but since it also had a 3.5mm input this felt redundant so I skipped the repair of that part.

I realized I had two ways of tackling the missing usb problem. Since the player had en internal lithium battery on 3.7V one option was to switch it out with some kind of connectors or a battery case so I could charge the batteries externally or switch them out when they were depleted. My other option was to add my own usb or some kind of connector that I could feed 5V into, to charge the batteries internally.

I chose the latter since that way I could always charge it as long as I had usb power at hand. Now since I couldn't solder on the original usb pin due to it being ripped up, my first step was to trace the USB+ line to see where it led with continuity meter on my multimeter. It was connected to the first resistor I think is labelled R7. This was good cause then I could solder the positive wire directly to the resistor and hopefully get a strong and sturdy bond that would last.

I took an old usb cable, peeled of the insulation, and soldered on the red wire to the resistor and the black wire to any ground I could find (I used the internal battery ground) and just tied up the data wires in a shrink tube since I had no use for them.

Step 2: The Speakers

Next step is to de-solder the speakers and solder on a pair of extended wires so that you can place the speakers wherever you want to place them. My speakers had a + and - pole so I made sure to mark it well so that I could solder on the wires the way it was before I de-soldered the old ones.

Another good tip is to mark the right and left speaker so that you can place them accordingly.

Next you need to find a suitable housing for them. I made mine myself from a small block of solid wood that I drilled four corners and then a series of drilling between to get a hollow casing that the speakers would fit into. I then gave it a quick paint job with my black spray paint and glued on the speakers with hot glue. I also added a piece of cardboard cover at the back to prevent too much dust from getting inside.

Tip: An alternative casing for the speakers could be to use the original casing and cut it in half. That way the speakers would fit perfectly. I however saved my original case for another project I will post here soon.

Step 3: Fix the Housing for the Music Player

For the main housing I had the fortune to use a 3D printer from my local Maker Space. I'm totally new to the 3D printing society so this was one of the first real things I tried to print. I wanted to test the limits of the printer to see what it was capable of and as one can see on the pictures the note turned out great but some of the text turned out really bad. But since it takes forever to print something of his scale and I have the patient of a five year old I decided to use it anyway with some modifications.

But all and all I was still impressed of the accuracy and how it turned out with all the ports fitting perfectly and all. The tips here are, just be thorough when doing the measurements.

Another thing I noticed was that due to the fact that my housing was a bit thicker than the original aluminium housing the on/off switch was too small to be usable so I had to 3D print a new extended on/off switch hat.

Step 4: Mount Everything on the Balcony

Now all you have to do is to mount the speakers and the system wherever you want it get a 3.5mm audio male to malt cord and try it out.

And I must say I'm quite impressed of the volume this small system can the deliver. My original thought was that, since I live in a apartment with neighbours around I don't want to risk disturbing them with loud music on my balcony. So I figured a small portable sound system on 3.7V battery wouldn't be just loud enough and limit me from playing too loud. But they are definitely loud enough to disturb a couple of neighbours if played on the loudest volume.

Anyhow the point of this instructable was to spread the idea that a small portable music player can be used as a fixed balcony system. The portable music playing model I had (Music Angel) didn't have any volume control or bluetooth connectivity but depending on the model used you could have bluetooth connectivity and volume control included.