Introduction: Glass Speakers

About: My name is Randy and I am a Community Manager in these here parts. In a previous life I had founded and run the Instructables Design Studio (RIP) @ Autodesk's Pier 9 Technology Center. I'm also the author of t…

This set of speakers resonates glass to produce sound. While this may seem complicated, the technical explanation is actually rather simple.  Each speaker has a tactile transducer attached to the center, which is a device that vibrates the glass to produce sound waves. This simple mechanism allowed for the design of stereo speakers which are a departure from the standard bulky floor speaker. These glass speakers - by comparison - are obviously sleek, lightweight, and almost invisible. They can also be collapsed and easily moved, making them good for a nomadic lifestyle.

Of course, the big questions is, "how do they sound?" Well...These speakers sound a lot better than you would imagine, but still not as  great as your average stereo speaker. They tend to cut a little from both the high end and low end of the audio spectrum. Nonetheless, they have a very unique and somewhat warm sound to them. There is also the added bonus of truly feeling the music resonate through your feet when you crank up your stereo really high and stand near them.

Step 1: Ode to Noah

Noah is a man
Who helped me build these speakers
He did all he can
To make sure this project was a keeper

We went to his shop in the East Bay
Metalwork he did teach
We worked for many a day
To make a set of speakers for both of us each

I told him I would honor him with this verse
For his ego I set out to tame
Because I knew he would get terse
That I wanted to publish this project solely under my name

So I must thank Noah for showing me how to do this
On this project he truly saved the day
I would give him a great big kiss
But I really don't swing that way

Step 2: Go Get Stuff

You will need:
(x2) tactile transducers
(x2) 29-1/2" x 14" x 1/4" glass panel
(x1) 1-1/4" x 3/16" x 10' steel flat bar
(x1) 1/2" x 12" steel L-extrusion
(x1) 12" x 12" sheet of adhesive backed silicon rubber (or similar)

Step 3: Mark and Cut

Measure and mark every 48" along the steel bar.

Cut four 48" sections along the the steel bar.

Step 4: Bend

Measure about 16" from the edge of the flat bar and make a bend of about 100 to 110 degrees.

The metal bender we used is basically a rotary lever with a central pin and an adjustable outer pin (for different stock sizes). To make it work, you just set the outer pin as tight as possible and push on the lever until you have the bend you want.

Repeat this process making certain all of the bars have identical angle bends. It is better to undershoot to begin with than overshoot. You can always easily bend it slightly further, but it is difficult to undo a bend.

Step 5: Trim

After making the bends, make certain all of the rods have the same end measurements. Mark and cut as necessary until they are all identically sized.

Step 6: Weld

Cut four 1" long L-brackets. Sand a slight angle off one of the outer edges to allow for a better weld.

Weld one bracket at the top of your flat bar on the inside of the bend, such that it forms a U-shape to hold the top of the glass.

Measure 29.75" from the inside of this top bracket and weld the other bracket to form a U-shape to hold the bottom of the glass.

Step 7: Grind

Grind away the welding bead, and use a file in some of the harder to reach places.

Step 8: Sandblast

Before finishing the metal, you are going to need to sandblast it. We didn't have a sandblaster, so we outsourced it to some guy. I forget how much he charged us, but it was relatively cheap.

Step 9: Bluing Metal Finish

Be sure to wear gloves and appropriate eye protection.

Metal bluing is a process that produces a controlled rust on a piece of metal and turns it a natural black.

The mixture I used was made by a friend and I really don't know enough about preparing it to advise on mixing up your own batch. Nonetheless, you can find all kinds of recipes for this online. Here is a page that seems to have some promising recipes. Definately do your own research before taking any steps to copy any recipe for this found online. This processes typically uses dangerous acids.

That said...

Rub this mixture onto your sandblasted parts. Make sure to cover all surfaces well and not get the mixture all over the place (its relatively expensive and a bit caustic). You may want to put on more than one coat to ensure a nice black finish. This mixture will probably eat away at your rag as you apply it. Don't worry too much about it. That is normal.

Leave the metal bars to dry for 30 minutes when you are done.

Step 10: Wash Off

Spray off your metal parts with a hose to wash off the gunmetal mixture. Leave the parts to dry fully before proceeding. Don't worry if they start to fade and turn funky colors. That is a normal part of the process.

Step 11: Seal

Make a 50/50 mixture of linseed and mineral oil.

Mix in a dash japan dryer.

Step 12: Wipe

Once coated, wipe off the metal with a clean rag.

Leave it to dry for a few hours before handling.

Step 13: Center

Find the center of the glass sheet.

The easiest way to do this is to draw an "X" from corner to corner with an impermanent marker. Where the two lines meet will be the center of the panel.

Repeat for the second sheet of glass.

Step 14: Transducer

Flip the glass sheet over so that the marker is on the underside of the glass sheet.

Peel the adhesive covering off of the tactile transducer and center it upon the side of the glass without the center markings.

Make certain it is attached nice and firmly.

Repeat for the second sheet.

Step 15: Clean

Wipe the marker marks off of the two glass panels.

Step 16: Padding

Cut small adhesive silicon squares and affix it to the front and back of the U-brackets on the metal bar. These will hold the glass snugly in place and keep it from rattling.

Repeat for the other three U-brackets.

Step 17: Assemble

Slide the glass between the silicon padding in the U-brackets.

Step 18: Solder

Solder speaker wires to the tactile transducers. Be mindful of the positive and negative terminals.

Step 19: Setup

Attach these speakers to your stereo amplifier like you would any other speaker.

Did you find this useful, fun, or entertaining?
Follow @madeineuphoria to see my latest projects.

Epilog Challenge V

Participated in the
Epilog Challenge V