Introduction: The Alex-Star: Speaker/Enclosure for the Echo Dot
We love Alexa in our house. The kids have a couple first generation Echos and we purchased a half-dozen Dots back in October. The Dots are great except... they really need some type of external speakers and they look like hockey pucks. I set out to make a suitable housing for a cool piece of tech.
Have you ever noticed that the Death Star's planet-destroying Superlaser (Wookiepedia advises that, yes, it really is called the "superlaser") looks exactly like a speaker cone?
I designed a Death Star Dot/Speaker enclosure and uploaded the files to Thingiverse. The enclosure fits two 2-inch speakers. I used a cheapo Amazon Basics computer speaker kit because it is cheap ($11-14 depending on the day) and it comes with all the cords and circuitry. (And I do apologize for all of the Amazon-shilling.)
It should be obvious that with two 2-inch speakers, the Alex-Star will not generate planet-destroying sound, but it is fine for a small room or office. And, it looks cool.
Step 1: Print the Enclosure
Download the print files at Thingiverse and then print them. While the files are printing, try to live a good life. Call your mom just to tell her you love her. Think of ways that you can make your community nicer, safer, and more interesting. Be kind to animals.
Step 2: Tear Down the Speaker Set
Step-by-step instructions would be overkill but here are a couple pointers. The wire-mesh speaker covers pop off easily with a pair of needle-nose pliers. Under the speaker covers, there are four screws holding each unit together. Remove them. The speakers themselves are glued to the housing. Use a blow-dryer to loosen the glue and twist the outer face of the housing back and forth. Eventually the speakers will peel off.
The circuitry in the left speaker is held on by a nut under the knob. So take the knob off and then loosen the nut to get the board free. To get the entire thing free from the housing you will either need to cut the wires and splice or just cut the plastic housing. Take your pick. I'm not going to micromanage you.
Step 3: Paint the Enclosure
Paint the shell using whatever type of paint is recommended for your material. I used plastic-safe spray paint. I also left the translucent base unpainted so that I can still see Alexa's glowing blue light. That way I know she is listening to me. She is a great listener.
Step 4: Glue the Speaker Parts Into the Top Half
The left speaker goes in the circular cut-out. The right speaker goes in the slotted cut-out. There are notches at the top for the board.
Step 5: Place Alexa in Her Diabolical New Home
The Dot goes in upside down. I have found through trial and error that the microphones are much more responsive if they are not pointed directly at speakers a couple inches above them.
Connect the cables and snap the two halves together.
You might consider listening to that unfortunately named genre of music that is popular at the Mos Eisley Cantina.
Step 6: Rebuild the Alex-Star
If a ragtag group of rebels destroys your first Alex-Star, don't give up! Just build a new one.