Introduction: Echo Dot 3rd Generation Hack to Drive 8 Ohm Speaker
The typical way to use an external speaker with an Echo Dot (or any Echo device) is to utilize its Line Out port to something like nice powered computer speakers. Or use the Bluetooth functionality to send the audio to a Bluetooth speaker that provides better fidelity than the Echo device.
I had a special-use case where I stumbled upon a piece of US Navy surplus equipment for a very good price. It's a intercommunications box used on naval vessels. As an ex-sailor, I used that type of device frequently in support of mission critical radio communications equipment. Of course I thought "that would look cool in our enclosed screen porch!", and I was right. But I wanted more...I wanted to play music though it, and having an actual smart speaker functionality would be even better. Eventually I realized that the Echo, Generation 3, uses 12VDC as its input power. I have a 12V solar panel setup out there already, powering a Bluetooth amp and bookshelf speakers, so this idea was hatched.
This Instructable will show you how to remove the internal speaker entirely and run its leads to any standard (ie: dumb) 8 ohm speaker, allowing you to "Alexify" any object, with the Dot itself either inside that object, next to that object, or hidden nearby. The last option is the best for impressing your neighbors and friends.
Echo Dot 3rd Generation
Solder and Soldering Iron
T6 TORX Screwdriver
Small Phillips Screwdriver
Appropriate Connecting Terminals or Alligator Clips
8 ohm PERMANENT MAGNET speaker (not shown...or a device with such a speaker)
Step 1: Void the Warranty....open It Up
Pry off the base of the Echo Dot 3rd Generation with any flat tool (screwdriver or butter knife). Under that flat base piece are FOUR readily accessible T6 TORX screws. Remove those screws to remove the Dot from it's top cover.
Step 2: Take Speaker Out of the Dot
Remove the FOUR Philips screws that hold the speaker in place. Notice the little notch in one corner? Pry up that corner with your standard sharp pointy thing.
Step 3: Unfasten the Speaker Wires
The manufacturer made this easy by using terminal lugs. Pull the speaker wires off of the speaker. Set the speaker aside for other projects. It is not going back in.
I strongly suggest not cutting those terminal lugs off, as the wires themselves have a loose cell foam covering that is difficult to remove if you snip and strip. The bell wire that I was using was a small enough guage to feed through one of the curled sides of the terminal lug and fold over for soldering in the next steps.
Step 4: Drill or Poke a Hole in Cover
A drill comes in handy here. Just drill a hole at the exact location shown for the wires to exit the Dot eventually. This is actually my second hack job, and in my first one I used an awl-like tool strong enough to penetrate this spot with a little effort. Make sure the hole is of a size that the wires can pass through. I made mine small enough that the wires are tight, fitting but with no room to spare..
Step 5: Pass the Wires Through the Upper Case Hole, Re-assemble Case
Solder the wires to the terminal lugs, or attach in any other suitable manner. Make sure the bare wires/lugs will not contact anything I used black tape.
Feed the wires through the cover, leaving just enough slack to be able to put the cover back on. If you wish, you could use a dab of hot glue (or any appropriate glue) inside the case to hold those wires firmly, Reassemble the case, using the four TORX screws removed earlier. Stick the base cover back on. There should still be sufficient gooey glue tackiness for it to hold.
Step 6: Ready to Go
If you're using a brand new raw speaker, for example a car stereo speaker, you can use crimp on terminal lugs like these. If you're using a bookshelf speaker, you can just use the bare ends. You can also solder the wires to a speaker in certain situations, if that works best for you.
Step 7: Final Result, 'works a Treat'
I'm really happy with the way this works. A little more detail about how I took this modified Dot and put it to use.
BECAUSE I'M POWERING THIS ECHO DOT WITH MY 12V SOLAR PANEL
1. I cut off the 'wall wart' of the Dot's power cable.
2. I stripped that power cable and connected it to my 12V solar/battery system, observing polarity
3. I placed the Dot out of the weather, near the Navy surplus speaker device.
4. I ran the speaker wires I had added as described in this Instructable into the Navy device, to an 8-ohm speaker I placed into that device and closed it back up. That's it. As a little extra background, I had tried putting a Dot directly in the Navy box. Let's just say an enclosed steel box out on the patio is not a very good Wifi environment. This final solution works perfectly. Last night, I sat out there in the dark, listening to "Pet Shop Boys Station" on Amazon Prime Music while reading my Amazon kindle. So, so pleasant.
I hope you enjoyed this and that it's clearly detailed. Remember, this works with PERMANENT MAGNET speakers only, not the Electormagnetic speakers found in antique devices.