Introduction: Portable Altoids Speaker System

Once I saw the dead computer contest, I finally thought of a use for all these little speakers I had been collecting out of dead computers at work.  This is fully functional, however, I need to tweak the speaker setup as they are all currently in parallel and do not produce enough sound.  I will probably change this so that it is a combination of parallel and series.

Step 1: Tools and Materials


Altoids tins x3
1/4in id copper pipe
3/8 brass T compression fitting x1
3/8 brass Union joint x3
2.5mm mono jack x4
2.5mm mono plug x4
Assorted wire
Assorted speakers that fit in altoids tins
3.5mm stereo panel jack x1
4 slot terminal strip
Heat shrink tubing
Zip ties


Soldering Station/Iron (and solder, obviously)0
JB Weld
Drill/Rotary tool
Hacksaw if you don't have a rotary tool
Needle files (also called precision files)
Phillips screwdriver
Miniature pliers (needle nose, flat nose, angled dykes)
Pipe cutter

Step 2: Preparing the T Junction

Solder 8 inches of your speaker wire to two of the 2.5mm mono jacks.

Feed one through each end of the T junction with both pairs of wire coming out of the center. (Picture 3)

I've hot glued them in place, but I'll be redoing them with jb weld as the hot glue isn't holding well.

Step 3: Creating the Arms

Cut two 2" lengths of the copper pipe

Using two of the 2.5mm mono plugs and a short piece of wire, solder the wire to each of the plugs, ground to ground, signal to signal.

Mix your JB Weld together.  Equal parts of the steel epoxy and the hardener.  Make sure you rough up the surfaces to be epoxied then clean them with acetone.  This makes a better connection.

I epoxied one end at a time and let them cure fully so that I'd be sure they wouldn't shift as I was doing the other end.  Make sure that the plug is parallel to the pipe so it fits in the jack without bending.

Once you've done both ends, and they've cured, it's time to attach the compression nuts.  Insert the plug into the jack in the T fitting.  Then slide the nut on and tighten until it is as tight as you can get it with your fingers.  Mark how far the pipe is in the fitting.  Do this with both ends.

When epoxying the nuts on, spread the JB Weld on the pipe and slide into the nut.  Do it this way so you don't get any excess epoxy in the cavity around the plug.

Step 4: Center Post

Use the same technique for the arms, we'll create the center post, minus the plugs.

Step 5: Preparing the Tins

There are a total of 4 holes you need to cut in the tins.

The base tin gets a hole in the center of the lid 1/2", and the bottom center of the front of the tin about 3/16".

The speaker tins get a hole in one end, 1/2".

The three union joints get cut in half behind the flange on one end.  This way you have the threads and the flange.

I used my dremel and a tapered grinding bit to make all the holes.  I make small adjustments and test for fit constantly.  I could have measured, but that's just not my style.

Once the three large holes are drilled, insert the union fittings and epoxy them in.  Make sure you set them up so they can cure without moving.  This is important so everything mounts straight.

After the speaker tins have cured, epoxy the 2.5mm mono jacks into the union.  I did this

Step 6: Too Many Little Speakers!

I used 8 recycled speakers.  Unfortunately, I have them connected in parallel on each side.  This isn't producing the amount of sound I expected, so I will be hooking them up in a combination of series/parallel.

Find a way to attach your speakers together.  I used tiny zip ties.

Solder your speaker terminals together.  Hopefully you'll be able to find the data sheets on your speakers so you can get an appropriate impedance load.  I'm using trial and error.

Solder your wire leads to the jack and insert the speakers into the tins.

Step 7: Wiring Up the Base Tin

Feed the wires from the T junction through the center post.  Attach the post to the T junction and feed the wires through the top of the tin.  Screw the nut down on the union joint attached to the lid.

Using the small whole you drilled in the bottom front of the base tin and screw down the nut.

Make sure you check the wiring schematic to get this right.

The wires are all connected to the terminal block.  I used this block so I could make changes without having to desolder any connections.

Step 8: DONE!

Attach the speakers to the arms, the arms to the T junction, the stereo input to your music device of choice.  I tried this speaker wiring with a CMoy amp, and the sound is still off.  I might make a dedicated amp in another mint tin.  V2 of this will be set up so that all the arms and posts fit inside the base tin.  I'm just waiting on parts at this point.  You also might want to think about using PVC pipe and fittings because they're cheaper.  They also weigh less and are easier to cut and file.

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