Introduction: Hacking Cheap IPhone Speakers for Android Dock
I had been looking at some kickstands and docks for my new Samsung Vibrant, and I happened to have a set of cheap iPod/iPhone folding speakers sitting around. They were just a little small for the Vibrant, and there was no option for docking the phone on its side. Enter Sugru, and I now have a cheap and VERY usable dock for my Vibrant.
Step 1: Stuff You'll Need
Smart Phone, MP3 Player, or something else you'd like to dock.
Folding Speaker Set - I got mine for free from Jizbee, but you can pick up a set for about $5 including shipping. The sound quality on the ones I got is really good, actually - I was impressed for the price. These speakers have a standard 3.5mm audio cable permantly built in.
Sugru - You will need one packet (or maybe less, depending on what you cushion). You can get that here.
Tin snips or some other cutting device - I used tin snips, but you could use anything that will cut soft plastic ... I didn't see a need for breaking out the Dremel.
Cup of water with a little soap in it
Paper towel or other item for texturing the Sugru (I chose a paper towel because I needed to clean up afterward anyway - waste not, want not!)
Step 2: Make Your Cuts and Dry Fit the Phone.
The tray on these speakers is made to hold an iPod. The sides come up high, and hold the iPod snugly. Unfortunately for my Vibrant, it was a little too snug and made me have to take off the case. It also hindered the use of the buttons on the bottom of my phone.
The first thing you need to do is to cut away the extra height of the tray, and the sides. The Vibrant is slightly wider, especially with the case on. I also wanted the ability to lay the phone in landscape mode, so the sides of the tray had to go. I left the front wavy, because I liked it, but you could just as easily leave it straight. Don't worry about rough edges, just make sure the shape is how you want it.
Next, put the tray back in the unfolded speakers and dry-fit the phone. Make sure that the tray is positioned to the depth you want it, and that the phone rests on it correctly. Note everywhere the phone touches the dock both in portrait and landscape mode.
Step 3: Make the Feet
Now, open the packet of Sugru. If I had to do this again, I'd probably use black Sugru on these speakers, or get some black speakers and use orange. But, I had blue, so blue it is.
Once you have the tray positioned where you want it from the previous step, open the Sugru and knead it with your fingers to get it softened. Turn the speakers over, and note the four feet that it sits on.
You want to apply some small amounts of sugru to the feet for traction. Tear off some small pieces of sugru and apply them to the feet. Then, make a couple of pyramid shaped pieces to go under the front of the tray itself. These will need to be about a half inch tall, but you'll be able to eyeball it. Make sure the pyramids are about the same size, and apply them to the bottom of the tray.
Next, wet the table slightly with the soapy water. With the sugru attached to the feet, and the pyramid stabilizers in place, stand the dock up on the wet table. The soapy water will keep the sugru from sticking. Standing it up will form the sugru to the flat table, and make sure that it dries properly. It will also let you adjust he height of the stabilizers on the tray.
After the feet have formed to the table (it just takes a second, so don't leave it sitting there!) take the paper towel and press it against the sugru on the feet. This will give them some texture for grip. The towel won't stick, because they are still slightly wet.
Step 4: Add Cushioning and Embellishments
I don't think the speakers would scratch my phone if I docked it without the case, but I know sugru won't, so I wanted to add some extra padding anywhere the phone touches.
Remember when you noted where the phone touched the speakers? We're going to add some sugru there.
Start by adding some cushioning to the tray itself. Roll a couple of pieces of sugru to the length of the tray sticking out from the speakers. Stick the sugru down to the side edges of the tray. This is going to give a little lip here, and will actually be what the phone sits on when in landscape mode. This sugru will also cover up those rough edges left from cutting earlier. The rough edges will give the sugru more grip on the smooth plastic.
Add a flat piece of sugru to the middle of the tray, where the bottom of the phone will sit when in portrait mode. Make sure this piece is thinner than what you just added to the sides, to keep it from interfering with the phone when it's been laid down.
I also chose to add a couple of small pieces of sugru next to the center speaker screws at the top, because my phone rests there and I just needed this as a desktop dock. This will not allow the speakers to fold back up, though, so if you plan on keeping this dock portable, either make the sugru here really flat, or leave it out altogether.
Now, no sugru project is complete unless you can actually see the sugru, so go back to your wet table, and roll out a sugru snake a couple of inches long. Apply this to the top of your tray lip, smoothing it out with a wet finger to get rid of fingerprints.
Leave the speakers laying on their back over night - don't stand it up on the feet!
Step 5: The Completed Dock
Now that it's set overnight, it's all done!
The dock allows the phone to be displayed in portrait mode or landscape, and the tray no longer gets in the way. The sugru adds nice touches of softness to keep the phone from getting scratched, and adds cushioning.
For $5 or less, the speaker quality cannot be beat. You aren't going to play these speakers at a party, but they work great for normal desktop use, or as an alarm clock dock.
How could the project be better? The speakers can be powered with a proprietary USB power cable (it comes with the ones from Amazon, I didn't get it with my freebie set). There's plenty of room inside, especially if you forget about the batteries and use that for extra project space, to install an actual usb port for power instead of the standard DC jack. You could, with a little work, also add a port to charge the phone.
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