If you think about it, machines and computers are like us in many ways — they have brains (processors), eyes (cameras), ears (microphones), etc. Machine Senses is a series of artifacts that aim to reverse the perspective on how we perceive technology. How do machines see and sense us? How do we humans feel about being seen and sensed by them? What if machines have personalities and feelings just like we do? The conceptual yet functional objects serve as reminders that as we design and develop new technologies, we must not forget that machines can and should be as human as the ones interacting with them.
As part of the Machine Senses series, the Ear Microphone is a functional microphone that takes the form of a human ear. It was built on top of an off-the-shelf RadioShack microphone. This instructable details how one goes about designing a 3D-printed art object that remind us that machines are, in many ways, just like us humans.
Requirement: access to 3D printer
Step 1: Take Apart a Regular Microphone
Buy a cheap-ish handheld microphone from RadioShack: https://www.radioshack.com/products/unidirectiona...
Unscrew the top spherical mesh. I do this to reduce the overall size of the microphone. If you're using other microphone models, feel free to get creative with how you design the "shell" around yours.
Step 2: Design the Handle Part & 3D Print
With this particular microphone I'm working with, I want to encase it in a cone shell with the bottom rubbery part poking out. So, I measured the widest part of the microphone (the lip) as well as the widest part of the rubbery section.
I then used Autodesk Fusion 360 to model the cone, using the "loft" and "shell" features. I printed the exported STL on a Fortus FDM machine with ASA black material (feel free to use any other 3D printer system, such as a MakerBot Replicator 2). For your reference, I've uploaded the STL file.
Step 3: Design the Ear Part & 3D Print
I found a model of an ear online here. Using Autodesk Fusion 360, I designed the round base that would fit nicely with the microphone cone in the previous step. Then I used Autodesk MeshMixer to combine the ear and the base models together. See the attache STL file for reference.
I then printed the part on an Objet Connex 500 3D printer for a high-resolution and off-white color print, although technically, you can use any 3D printer system you have. With this particular 3D printing technique (PolyJet), I had to clean off the support manually with a scraper, a pick, and a water jet.
Step 4: Assemble the Parts Together and Done!
The last step is to put it all together. First, put the microphone cable through the bottom of the cone, then put the microphone body in, snap-fit the ear piece in, then VOILA! — you have the a fully functional ear microphone.