Steampunk Headset




Introduction: Steampunk Headset

About: I also go by the Instructable user name: UnknownUser2007
Here is my version of a Steampunk Headset.

Awhile back I made a Steampunk Headset Hook. You're probably wondering what that is.

Flicker images I decided to make a headset to match the hook.

Here are links to other Makers with similar creations that have served as inspiration:
Thanks for the inspiration but I was looking for something a bit more "brassy."

To construct this headset, I started with items commonly found at home improvement stores. I wanted to use mostly copper or brass parts, at least for the parts that are exposed. Unfortunately, copper and brass are heavy (compared to plastic). I use a headset frequently so I didn't want to end up with something too heavy. The end look has an industrial flavor because of the holes drilled to lighten it. Although, I still think it fits in the Steampunk genre.

This Instructable's difficulty level is middle to high. Many of the parts are small and fabricated from scratch. Makers with modeler's experience could easily tackle this Instructable.

The tools I used for this build are basic hand tools, tin snips, 2-56 tap, 8-32 tap, butane torch, drill press, jeweler's files, sand paper, soldering iron, sheet metal hand punch, modelers saw, Dremel, hobby knife, hack saw, center punch, antigravimetric hydrospanner.

Six - Copper piping 1/8" end cap - Orchard Supply Hardware (OSH)
One - Copper piping end cap (measures 1 1/2" OD) - OSH
One - Copper piping 1/2" end cap (measures 11/16" OD) - OSH
One - Copper piping 1/8" 12" long - OSH
Two - Copper piping T-fitting 1/8" - OSH
One - Elbow 1/8" Copper 1/8" piping - OSH
One - 6-32 Thumbnut - OSH
One - 6-32 3/4" long Machine Screw - OSH
Two - Brass wood thread insert - OSH
Two - 8-32 1 1/2" long Brass Machine Screws - OSH
Two - 8-32 Brass Acorn Nuts - OSH
Two - 2-56 3/8" long Brass Machine Screws Pan Head - OSH
Ten - 2-56 1/4" long Brass Machine Screws - OSH
Ten - 2-56 Brass Nuts for Macine Screws - OSH
One - Brass round tube 1/4" OD, 12" length -
One - Brass round tube 5/32" OD, 12" length -
One - Brass round tube 1/8" OD, 12" length -
One - Brass flat strip 0.032" thick. 2" x 12" -
One - Brass flat strip 0.0256" thick brass flat strip -
One - Cap from a bottle of Exedrin - found item
One - Cap from a bottle of water - found item
Used headsets - Weird Stuff
Leather strips - junk box
One - Faux Sheepskin 9" buffing wheel - Kragen
Silicone Adhesive - junk box
Crazy Glue - junk box
Thin black fabric - junk box
Fabric Glue - junk box
Solder - junk box
Flux - junk box
Dilithium Crystals - Vulcan
Box of Twinkies - 7-11

Step 1: Finding a Donor

The first thing you need to do is find donor headsets. I visited our local used computer parts store, Weird Stuff. The headset I use at work is an old Plantronics unit. I managed to find a similar one at Weird Stuff. The Plantronics model was an around-the-ear style but I needed an over-the-head type. So I also found an over-the-head Radio Shack headset. I picked the Radio Shack headset because I wanted some heavy duty spring steel hoops. As I mentioned above, brass and copper are heavy so I wanted something hefty.

I first cracked open the Plantronics headset. I used a modeler's saw then hobby knife, pliers and screwdriver to break apart the two plastic halves. You have to be careful not to damage the circuitry while doing so. Carefully pull out the mic, speaker and printed circuit board. You'll want to desolder the leads that go to the mic because you'll need to extend those leads. Set everything safely aside for later use.

The Radio Shack donor headset was much easier. Just unscrew everything to free up the two spring steel hoops. That's all you'll need from the Radio Shack headset.

Now you're ready for some fabrication. Familiarize yourself with the parts by reviewing the Assembly Diagram. First on the list is the Ear Cup Assembly.

Step 2: Ear Cup Assembly

The Ear Cup Assembly contains the pirated speaker and printed wiring board. It's made from the 1 1/2" (measured) copper cap and two bottle caps: one from an Excedrin bottle and the other from a common water bottle. You can find alternative cap sources, just make sure the larger one fits snuggly into the copper cap and the smaller one fits snuggly into the larger cap.

Using a hack saw, cut off about 7/16" from end of the 1 1/2" copper end cap. Drill a 1/8" hole dead center in the face of the cap. This hole will be used for the thumbscrew screw.

(Optional Step - to reduce weight) Measure and mark eight holes on the face of the cap, arranged in a circular pattern. Center punch and drill the 3/16" holes.

(Optional Step - to reduce weight) Mark out a pattern on the side of the cap and drill out the area. I mounted the cap on a piece of wood to use as a type of jig. I would drill then rotate the cap. Drill again and rotate and so forth. Do some filing and sanding to finish the holes.

Next drill four holes around the sides of the copper cap. The holes should be evenly spaced at the 12, 3, 6 and 9 o'clock positions. The holes should be 1/32" dia. Tap these holes with a 2-56 tap.

Next you'll need to add two swivel bosses on the ear cup. Cut two pieces of copper 1/8" tubing (1/4" OD) each about 5/32" long. Cut two pieces of 5/32" OD brass round tubing, each about 1/4" long. Deburr the parts. Sweat solder the smaller brass piece inside the larger copper piece. Contour the boss to fit the curvature of the cap. Sweat solder the newly made boss to the cap by using a 2-56 machines screw to hold it in place. Be careful not to solder the screw into the cap!

Next fabricate the ear cup swivel. The swivel is made from a strip of 0.032 brass flat strip. First make a template from paper. Cut out a strip of paper and fit it from boss to boss, with a nice arc. On the template mark center points for the bosses and a point halfway between the two. Transfer the template to the brass flat strip. Using tin snips cut out a 3 7/16" by 3/8" wide strip. Drill the holes for the bosses and center hole 1/8" dia. The end holes of the swivel should fit over the brass bosses, not the copper portion.

(Optional Step - to reduce weight) Using a hand punch, make 3/16" holes evenly spaced.

To form the swivel, wrap it around a pipe. I used a sink drain pipe. Hand form it so it slips over the bosses. Of course, if you have access to a slip roller, that's the way to go.

Finish the swivel by filing and sanding it to a smooth burr free finish.I also had to make two washers for the boss since I couldn't find any number 2 brass washers. I made these from brass sheet and a hand punch. Number 4 brass flat washers will work but look a bit too large.

Finish off the swivel assembly by modifying a brass 8-32 acorn nut. Grind down the tip and drill through the top. Then use an 8-32 tap to create threads all the way through the acorn nut. You can skip this step by using a normal 8-32 nut but the acorn nut looks more finished. Then take a 1 1/2" long brass machine screw, thread it through the center of the swivel and lock it down with the modified acorn nut. Lastly, slip the swivel over the bosses. The swivel should rotate freely around the ear cup.

Speaker Housing
The speaker housing holds the speaker and circuit board. It also provides a surface to glue the ear padding (faux sheepskin).

The base of the speaker housing is a cap off of an Excedrin bottle. Cut a hole in the bottom that is slightly smaller than the diameter of the speaker. Then file down the outside of the cap to fit inside the copper ear cup assembly. Locate where the cable will exit and cut slots in both caps.

Fit the plastic cap from the water bottle inside the Excedrin cap. With a little whittling, mine simply snapped into place.

Before, you tapped 2-56 threads into four holes of the copper Ear Cup Assembly. These holes will be used to secure the speaker housing. Insert the Excedrin cap into the copper cap until the bottom is flush with the edge of the copper cap. Mark and drill the four holes in the Excedrin cap. Two of the holes will be held by the 3/8" long 2-56 machine screws used to retain the swivel.

The other remaining two holes will need to be secured with 1/4" long 2-56 machine screws which need to be shortened. The screws only need to penetrate the Excedrin bottle cap, not the water bottle cap.

Paint both caps with black paint.

Step 3: Mic Assembly

The Mic Assembly consists of a mic housing and an adjustable mic boom.

The boom's length is adjustable and the mouth piece rotates on its axis. The entire mic assembly rotates around the ear cup. This adjustability is needed so that the user can use the headset on the right ear or left ear.

Using a hacksaw, cut off about 3/16" from the 1/2" copper end cap. Drill a 1/8" hole dead center. Drill a 5/16" hole in the side of the cap so that the edge of the hole is toward the edge of the cap.

Take one of the 1/8" copper caps and drill a 5/32" hole dead center of on the face. Cut off about 3" of 5/32" brass round tube. Fit the brass tube inside the 1/8" copper cap and then both into the 1/2" copper cap. Using a soldering torch or large solder iron, sweat solder all three pieces together. You can see in the photo I made a simple jig to make sure everything lined up squarely while soldering. The mic fits inside the 1/8" copper cap. Glue the mic into the place using silicone adhesive.

Mic Boom
The adjustable part of the mic boom consists of the 1/8" copper piping approx. 2 1/4" long. One end is capped by an 1/8" elbow the other with a 1/8" cap. The cap needs to be drilled dead center, 1/8" dia.

The next part is to make the bushings. I made a very small leather washer that fits inside the 1/8" cap. The other bushing is a small strip wrapped around the 5/32" brass tubing. The leather acts as a kind of piston inside the 1/8" copper piping. All these bushings are intended to provide a tight fit so that the boom doesn't flop around. I provided a diagram that shows how this all fits together.

Note, when doing the final assembly of the boom, make sure the cap and the leather washer are slid up on the 5/32" brass tube before you wrap it with the leather to form the "piston."

Step 4: Head Loop Assembly

The Head Loop Assembly connects the two sides together: the Ear Cup and Template Pad assemblies. It is designed so both assemblies rotate around their axis.

First, ream out both copper T-fittings with a rat tail file. The T-fittings neck down in the middle. You want the inside diameter to be one size all the way through.

From 0.032" thick Brass Flat Strip, cut out four L-shaped brackets. The brackets should slide all the way through the T-fitting. From the photos, you can see the spring steel head loops are sandwiched in between these brass brackets. Slide the brackets into the T-fittings, place the head loops for reference and mark and punch the holes in the L-shaped brackets. While the brackets are in the T-fitting, rotate the T-Fitting about 145 deg. This angle sets the tension on the head loop. Mark the position, then sweat solder the L-shaped brackets into the T-fitting.

Cut two lengths of 1/4" OD brass tube, one 1 1/2" long, the other 1" long. The latter is for the Temple Pad. File down the brass thread inserts so that they'll fit inside the brass tubes about half way. Insert the other sides of the brass tubes into the T-fittings. Sweat solder these into place.

Fabricate four caps for the T-fittings. These are made from 1/4" brass end caps. As the photo shows, you'll need to cut a section out of the caps to clear the nuts. These are quite small so I soldered the caps to copper tubing before using a Dremel to cut out the sections. We'll call this completed piece a T-Assembly.

Cut two strips of leather about 9 3/4" x 1 1/8". Sew these lengthwise, leaving enough space to slip in the spring steel head loops. Use 2-56 1/4" long brass machine screws and nuts to assemble everything together. You'll notice you'll need to cut down the top screws so that you can slip the leather casing over them.

Step 5: Temple Pad Assembly

I apologize for the lack of photos for this Step. I went through two designs before finally settling on the third. In a rush to get it right, I neglected to photograph the fabrication.

First cut out the overall Temple Pad from 0.032" thick brass flat strip. Cut a piece about 2 1/2" x 1 1/8" in size. Using tin snips, trim to a kidney shape. Shape the Temple Pad so it matches the curve of your temple. File, sand and finish the part.

(Optional step to reduce weight) Using a sheet metal hand punch, punch 3/16" holes into the Temple Pad.

Next, fabricate some brackets for the Temple Pad. Cut out two 1/2" x 3/4" rectangular pieces from the 0.0256 brass sheet. Drill a 1/16" and 1/8" holes, one to hold an axle the other to hold a small piece of copper wire. The copper wire limits the pivot travel of the Temple Pad. Bend the brackets 90 degrees to an L shape.

Now you're ready to fabricate the axial rod which consists of an 8-32 1 1/2" long brass machine screw with the head hack sawed off. Take an 8-32 acorn nut and flatten then drill out the top like you did in Step 2. Tap the acorn nut so the threads run all the way through. Cut a 1/2" long piece of brass 1/8" tubing. File a notch across the flat side of the acorn nut and solder the short piece of tubing to the acorn nut. The tubing should have a slight overhang to the nut. The overhang acts as a bearing to the brackets made above.

You are now ready to finish off the Temple Pad assembly. Slip the brackets onto the short 1/8" brass tubing then place it on the Temple Pad. Makes sure everything is centered then sweat solder the brackets in place. After the parts have cooled, the axial rod should now pivot on the temple pad. Take a short piece of copper wire and slide them through the holes and solder them into place. Cut off the excess and file down flat. Lastly, bolt a 2-56 3/4" long brass machine screw and nut through the 1/8" brass tube. Cut out a piece of black cloth and faux sheepskin in the shape of the Temple Pad and glue these to the inside surface.

Step 6: Finishing

You're almost done! First to give the headset a "worn" look, I used a technique called ammonia fuming. Here's a link to more details.
It is a simple patina process to create an aged look.

Now that all the assemblies have been fabricated it is time to glue the speaker and mic into place using silicone adhesive. Then solder the speaker and mic leads to the circuit board. The circuit board simply floats inside the water bottle cap on top of the speaker.

Cable Assembly
The cable that runs to the phone system was covered in a cotton drawstring from old sweat pants. After I slipped the drawstring over the cable, I cut small strips of brass and wrapped a band around each end. I slipped the cable through a hole in the water bottle cap and cut a matching slot into the Excedrin cap. Inside the bottle cap I cut a small strip of brass and clamped it on the cable to act as a strain relief.

Final Assembly
Final assembly is simply screwing everything together. Carefully, snap together the Excedrin and bottle cap together. First lengthen the wires to the mic. Use some heat shrink to insulate. The wires in the mic housing should be wrapped around the screw a few times so it won't be strained while adjusting it. Slip the speaker housing into the ear cup and secure with the set screws. Slip the leather casing around the head loops and secure them to the T-Assembly. Secure the end caps with silicone adhesive. Then, finally screw in the Temple Pad and Ear cup assemblies into the T-Assembly.

Cut out a donut shaped faux sheepskin ear padding. Also cut out a circle shape from thin black material. The diameter of both should be the same as the diameter of the Ear Cup Assembly. Glue the black cloth first then the faux sheepskin onto the Excedrin bottle cap. Use fabric glue or equivalent. You are done, have a beer.

I've been using my Steampunk Headset without any problems for weeks now. Hope you will enjoy your Steampunk headset as much as I am enjoying mine. Now go out and Make one!

PS - This is my first Instructable under this user name. I also have been posting under UnknownUser2007.

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    10 years ago on Introduction

    Nice detail work, hats off to you, good job on both form and fuction!


    hey, i cant find any 0.0256 thick brass strips, but i did find 0.0250, will that work the same? and should it be 2" wide like the other strip? sorry about being a noob, i just wanna be sure before giving the place my money haha.


    Reply 10 years ago on Introduction

    Yes, 0.0250 should work. See Step 5. You don't need much of it. Only to fashion the brackets that hold the temple pad. In fact you can probably get away with using the 0.032 thick sheet. I think I used what I had in my scrap bin and it happened to be 0.0256.. Good luck! : )


    11 years ago on Step 3

    I take it that the sound(your voice) travels up the pipe to the actual mic


    11 years ago on Introduction

    This project is completely awesome and you have done a wonderful job with all of the components. I'm hoping to gather the necessary materials to try this with a gaming headset. While going through your parts list I did not see where the "One - Brass flat strip 0.0256" thick brass flat strip - hobby store" was used. the 0.032 is mentioned several times. Its possible that in my sleep deprived state I missed it somewhere but in any case I wondered where it came into play. Thanks and again, great job.


    Reply 11 years ago on Introduction

    Hi SSDPhoto:
    Great catch! I think the thinner sheet is used in Step 5, Paragraph 4. The two L brackets were made of the thinner sheet. However, the thicker sheet should work too. Thanks for the comment! : )


    12 years ago on Introduction

    First time I saw close ups of the Steampunk Headphone I started thinking "Erector Set..."

    Nice job, I might try making this later.


    Reply 12 years ago on Introduction

    Thank you. Yes, all those holes! I was very concerned about weight since it is made of mostly copper and brass. That turned out to be a non-issue.
    Instead of holes might I suggest engraved filigree?


    13 years ago on Step 3

    instead of a hacksaw, why not try a pipe cutter?


    Reply 13 years ago on Step 3

    That is a good idea but as I remember the cap was too small for the pipe cutters I had. Thanks! : )


    13 years ago on Step 6

    I know how to make headphone but a headset? I never would have thought about it. And it turned out amazing. Good job!


    13 years ago on Introduction

    I finished my headphones instructable/slide show. Check it out!