This is really how to make a cheap bluetooth speaker sound great, any cabinet will do. It just so happened that one day while trolling through a flea market I came across this rusted out 1921 Radiola speaker cabinet, the insides long gone. I thought to myself I don't have a bluetooth speaker and this cabinet is a real beauty! The pictures don't really do it justice. It stands 42 cm high by 35cm round (13 inches round x 16 inches high) and looks grand! The speaker looks the same from both sides and would have had two speakers back to back....the first surround sound? Now comes the task of of bringing it up to the 21st century and giving it a new lease on life. This site is where I put other steampunky things I make, not for sale: steampunkwayoflife.blogspot.com.au
Step 1: De-rustifying.....then painting.
I have included notes on most of the pictures to give you a clearer idea as to how I am making this bluetooth speaker. First off I had to clean off all the rust, which was no easy task, my choice of cleaner....brass brush on a drill stand. After throughly cleaning off all the rust I spray painted with a metal anti rusting primer and then finished off with oil rubbed bronze. The oil rubbed bronze is by rustoleum, the can is pictured in the seventh photograph here. Then I baked the paint on in an oven set at 160 degrees celsius (320 degrees farenheit) for about 45 mins, it makes for a nice hard finish. The speaker grill was finished with chrome spray paint.
Step 2: How to go from an empty cabinet to a bluetooth speaker....
Now comes the fiddly stuff and what you'll need:
If you know how to solder you will be able to make one similar to this. Patience, patience, patience as with anything you make from scratch. A little electronic know how is helpful eg knowing your inputs from your outputs.
1 x cheap bluetooth speaker
1 xUSB charger for the bluetooth
Amplifier - I used a Yamaha PDX-11
Walwart for the amplifier
2 x cheap car speakers - 15 watt each
Wires & solder etc
Red & Green LED's
Nuts, bolts and screws
Paint Plywood and battens
1 x 3 way switch, 1 x on/off switch.
Drill - cordless and power with drill bits
Wire cutters and pliers
Brass polishing brush for drill
The first thing I started with were the speakers for which I cut two pieces of plywood into discs to fit the cabinet and holes to fit the speakers. I fixed the first speaker into the cabinet and then I created spacers with the wooden battens to attach the second plywood disc. The speakers were back to back and filled the space with no gap between the speakers. After everything fit I dismantled the speakers and painted the discs..this is the easy part.
Step 3: ...and now for the power..
There was a small hole where the speaker wire came into the cabinet which I enlarged to allow a power cable through. This hole I inserted a rubber grommet into to protect the wire. Once you feed the cable through tie a single knot so that it cannot be pulled out again. Then I created an earth connection, wired in the Walwart and USB charger. Across the power terminals I wired in a power indication LED. The charger and Walwart is shown in the last picture.
Step 4: Connecting up the bluetooth with the amplifier....
Take apart the bluetooth speaker, remove the speaker. The speaker wires will be your output to the amplifier. We need the on/off switch to be wired up to and operational from outside the cabinet. I am loathe to remove components from a circuit board, all kinds of problems can happen so I prefer to solder wires where possible and connect my own hardware. I broke open the switch, found the tabs and soldered 2 wires which went to my new on/off switch, tested to make sure the new switch worked with the bluetooth. We need to rewire the LED so it can be seen outside the cabinet. For this just snip the legs of the LED about half way, so you have something to solder the wires to. Solder three wires to the LED and back to the PCB. It is a pale blue and red LED. The pale blue LED flashes when it is not connected to a bluetooth device, shines solidly when it is connected and goes red when it is being charged. Connect the USB input to the USB charger. Connect the Walwart to the amplifier. Connect the speaker wires (output from the bluetooth) to a 3.5mm plug and plug into the amp AUX socket. Then plug in both of your car speakers into the amplifier.
Step 5: Now for all the external buttons and switches....
The metal of this speaker cabinet is rather thin, plus you will see holes where the rust has eaten away the metal, so I wasn't looking forward to drilling it! The Yamaha amp has three buttons to; operate power, volume up and volume down. I drilled three holes in the bottom of the cabinet and to improve the look, created copper flanges by using a flanger (as shown in the pictures) on some copper tubing and cutting the tube short. The buttons I used were from a non functioning microwave that I harvested for parts some time ago. I soldered wires to the momentary buttons on the amp and soldered those wires to the microwave momentary buttons then glued them in place...see pictures. You will have seen the switches installed in the earlier pictures with the power.
Step 6: It's all about the lights!
In the base drill three holes. The first hole is for the power LED, the second for the amp and the third for the bluetooth. These holes were also decorated with copper flanges and diamantes were used as the lenses.
Step 7: Finishing touches
Using some fabric bought at an haberdashery cover the speaker grills and pull taut. Tape around the company tag and sand very lightly with a fine sandpaper (I used 1200 grit) until you can read the text.
Step 8: Now enjoy......
I couldn't believe how beautiful this speaker sounds! Now when I am on my iPad I can listen to videos, music, podcasts etc without it sounding like it's on helium! This speaker is so loud that it makes for a great party machine.