Introduction: Computer Speaker Conversion
Sick of having to cart a pair of computer speakers around if you want to hear some tunes away from you computer? Me too. In my room the only speakers I have are a pair of computer speakers which are stuck to my desk because of cords that loop around the back of the desk. If I wanted to use anything other than earphones away from my desk I wasn't easily able to because of the difficulty of moving around the computer speakers. This prompted me to get a pair of old computer speakers and put them inside a single box so that there were a minimal amount of cords and so they'd be easy to relocate when I needed to use them somewhere else. This instructable will guide you through this process of repurposing 2 computer speakers into a single unit. By the way this is my first Instructable so all comments and criticisms are greatly appreciated!
What you'll need:
- Pair of old computer speakers
- Soldering iron and solder
- Something to put the new speakers into
- Tinsnips (only if you want to get the old speakers apart without having to cut and resolder wires)
- Power drill, with drill bits and hole saws.
- Some way of decorating your speaker enclosure (not necessary, but something like an airbrush or normal paints are a good way to go).
- A way of fixing parts of your speakers to their enclosure. Screws, hot glue or Silastic are best.
Oh and a disclaimer, be careful. If your speakers have a transformer like mine you will be working very close to a lot of power. So whenever your doing anything to your speakers, make sure they are unplugged. I'm not responsible if you blow yourself up.
Step 1: Gather Parts
First you'll need to acquire a pair of old speakers plus amplifier and power source to put inside your new unit. Computer speakers are ideal since they have their own power source, amplifier, speakers and are a relatively simple design. If you can get some that have volume, bass, treble knobs, on/off switch and an LED, even better. Through whatever means necessary, remove the innards of the speakers and throw the rest out. If you want you can keep the meshy cover bit which can look decorative later on in the project. It may be necessary to cut a few of the wires and resolder them in order to get everything out, just make sure you remember which wires go where. I couldn't be bothered doing this so I made bit of a mess of the speaker shell and hacked them up with a pair of tin snips.
When your finished, you need to end up with 2 speakers, amplifier, power source (this one has a transformer and power plug instead of an adaptor) and an audio plug for your iPod/computer/whatever. Things like volume knob, LED, switch and meshy covers are also useful to have, although not necessary.
Step 2: Decide on an Enclosure
The third step is to decide on what to put the speakers in. This can be pretty much anything you want it to be. You could use a brick, shoe box, wooden chest or even a sock. Using a wooden box will give you the best sound, but I lack a suitable wooden box and I can't be stuffed making one so instead for mine I'm going to use a clear tupperware container. These can look really awesome if you paint something on the inside of the container and leave the outside clear.
Having completed this, I would actually recommend you make a wooden box to put your speakers in if you have some decent carpentry skillz. Not only will it make the speakers sound better but it will be a better fit because you'll be able to make it exactly the right size.
Now you'll need to put everything in to figure out where everything will go. Start marking some points on it where your going to need to drill holes for certain things. On the front you need to drill two big holes for each speaker, small ones for the volume knobs and a smaller hole for the LED. On the back you'll need to drill a hole for the power cord. If you have a switch you'll also need to mark a hole for that.
Step 3: Drill Out Holes
Drill out all the holes you just marked in the previous step. Use a hole saw for the two big ones (use a smaller drill to make a pilot hole first). If you don't have a hole saw you might be filing/sandpapering for a long time, so borrow a friends instead. Use normal drill bits to drill the other holes, make sure they are just a little bit bigger than what's going in them so it's a good fit.
Afterwards use a deburring tool or a piece of fine sandpaper to fix the rough edges the drill leaves.
This is also a good time to figure out how your going to attach the speakers, if they have little holes around the base like on mine, drill some extra small holes around your big ones to put some screws through.
Step 4: Enslosure Decoration
Before decorating our speaker enclosure it's a good idea to make sure everything fits. Put all the parts inside the box (loosely fasten them in) to make sure everything fits and see if there are any fatal flaws in your design. If there aren't, take it all out again and it's time to get painting.
There are a few ways to do this part. You could:
a) Mask up the outside and paint the inside so that the outside is all shiny.
b) Paint the outside any way you like.
c) Don't do anything at all. Leave it transparent so everyone can see your handiwork.
I went with a. To do this I put masking tape all round the edges and covered the rest in old fax paper. Then using a can of white spray paint I painted the inside of the container. When you remove the mask you'll probably find there will be a fair bit of overspray and dribbles that appear on the outside, so have some thinners handy to get rid of these. Painting it this way makes it appear white (or slightly blue in my case), but also gives a cool glossy finish because you can still see the plastic.
Step 5: Put It All Back Together
When you've got your box decorated the way you want it, start putting all the parts back in it. I put the amplifier in first because it's hard to get in with the speakers in the way. If you've put it at the top like I have, it's a good idea to use some type of glue (probably Silastic) to stop it moving around. Put the speakers, switch and LED in as well and solder anything that you had to cut to get them out of the old speakers.
The audio cable I was using had smaller wires inside the bigger wires, so if you have to cut the audio cable to get it through the hole, make sure you check to see if it was like mine and isn't actually 4 wires which you will need to solder back together.
When everything is connected, plug it in and make sure it works. If it works, screw/fix any remaining parts into the box and start to add some finishing touches. If your speakers have the transformer like mine does you might have to make up some sort of frame for it on the bottom of the container to stop it moving. I just used to Silastic to glue it to the side.
Step 6: Finshing Touches
Finally it's time to add the finishing touches. Grab your sharpie and make little symbols around the volume/bass/treble knobs. You could add a little power or on/off symbols above the LED and switch as well. If you have something worthy of the job, you can also make up little meshy covers for each of the speakers, probably using the screws that are already there to hold the mesh in place. I couldn't find anything decent to make some out of so I just left them as they are.
Then once you put the lid on it, it's pretty much done and the only thing left to do is rock out! Hope you enjoyed this Instructable! :)